Meetings - The power naps of the 21st century

Meetings are the new-age power naps of the 21st century. Everyone is in it, but no one seems to get any value out of it.

Have you ever been a silent spectator in too many meetings? Did you understand neither the problem nor the agreed upon solution? Was there even a problem? Did everyone even come to an agreement?

The first problem: no agenda

“Hey, I’m calling this meeting to discuss feature XYZ.” Unless you’re on a panel on TV, that statement makes very little sense. Discuss what? Why? What’s the core problem that needs solving?

A lot of meetings have no agenda. Unless you’ve clearly marked the summit of the mountain that you intend to climb, no one has any idea which direction they should all be going.

Have a clear agenda. “We want to start development on XYZ, but we need to finalize the API contract.” This is much better, although doesn’t probably require a synchronous meeting. However, at least the meeting has an outcome of unblocking the development of a feature.

The second problem: too many synchronous meetings and no context

“We’re here to finalize the database schema for our Dropbox clone.” Okay, but is that going to happen in a 30m meeting? Did you even send out a documentation before so that people could have some context before coming into the meeting?

Also, if you have people who are tasked with database design in the company, just assign a new story to them to verify and adjust the schema. And also give them all the context. They’ll be able to use their own time & process to come up with the design, without the distraction of a meeting.

In short, managers should delegate tasks to people who are good at it, and just get out of their way.