Richard Hart

Head of Something @ Somewhere
Kent, UK

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Meetings, meetings, meetings… How I hate you so…

I hate 99% of the meetings I’m invited too simply because nearly all of them are a waste of my time or someone else’s. The number of times I’ve sat in meetings and ended up not saying anything for the whole thing or watched on as 90% of the poor attendants end up not saying anything either, no doubt we would all have been more productive gouging our eyes out with hot pokers.

A lot of my hatred for meetings comes from the fact I think nearly all of them could be eliminated just by sending an email outlining the problem and asking for a solution. But my biggest gripe is what I call the “Pull one out the hat” meetings where a problem is presented to you and you’re expected to provide a course-of-action/solution on the spot. Then the moment you say “I don’t know” or “I’ll have to think about it” you’re still pushed for at least an idea. And God forbid you reply that you don’t know how long a problem will take to solve when you don’t even have a solution yet. “But can’t you give us a rough estimate?” they’ll ask, “Yeah, sometime this year.” is the safest reply. If you give something that they can use as an estimate just wait until you’re held to it even if you include the heavenly “maybe” somewhere in there! “Maybe I can do it in two weeks but I will have to go away and think about it and provide you with a more solid timeframe.”, two weeks later, “But you said it would take you two weeks!”, like fuck I did!

Until people realise development is not an exact science and that we as developers don’t hold every single bit of knowledge on every piece of code and every column of data in our numerous databases in our head then we’ll be forever plagued by meaningless, time wasting, excruciatingly painful meetings.

Don’t get me wrong, there are such a thing as good meetings. For instance, Ian does a really good job when it comes to the Faculty of Trading meetings. I get a well prepared agenda a day or two before the meeting with an open question as to whether everything will be covered or if I need anything added or removed and afterwards a well written summary and action points for each attendant. But heck, not everyone can be a winner like him!

I’ll leave you with an interesting article: Study shows meetings make us dumber