Sunday, March 18, 2007

It's Official...Meetings Make us dumber!

I came across this article recently on that confirms what I have known for years. I've been through more than enough meetings in my life to know that bad meetings actually do in fact make us dumber (article link posted below)!

A poorly run and executed meeting is perfect for any Turtle. My company, for example, recently decided to conduct a meeting amongst all departments to help "improve the company" and "provide better service to our customers". This sounds like a very promising concept as most companies don't focus enough on improving. The problem though is that very few people in my company actually understand how to run a meeting effectively. More importantly most of the people invited to the meeting, who have more tenure than I, know that our superiors don't know how to run a meeting effectively. The result: Turtle meeting!

So what is a Turtle meeting you ask? A Turtle meeting occurs when the following conditions exist:

  1. A meeting agenda, complete with meeting purpose, items for discussion and follow-up is not created and sent out to the meeting invitees in advance. This really encourages Turtle behavior and wasted time as none of the meeting attendees actually understand why they are at the meeting. The non-Turtles at the meeting try to figure our what the meeting is about by asking questions for the first 20 minutes.
  2. The meeting facilitator decides to invite more people than needed. For example, the meeting on "improving our company" has over 20 people in it, which helps in creating confusion and indecision.
  3. The meeting room is too small and does not contain the equipment needed for the meeting. There is nothing like a group of people jammed into a room. This really helps to promote thinking!
  4. Meeting duties are not assigned. This means no timekeeper to keep the meeting on schedule and no documenter to notate the meeting and distribute the notes. There is nothing better than a meeting that just keeps going and going and going. Even better when you meet again you have no idea of what transpired the previous meetings due to the lack of meeting notes.
  5. There are no meeting ground rules agreed to during the first meeting. This allows people to have side discussions, dose off, or show up late as people have no expectation of how to act in the meeting. As a Turtle this means you can "blend in" as you can easily not participate.
  6. Assignments are handed out and no follow-up is ever done to ensure the assignments are completed or completely correctly. Again, since there are no notes from the meeting you can easily Turtle if assigned something. Simply claim that you weren't given an assignment and have a fellow Turtle confirm this with a statement like "yes, I don't believe Joe was given that assignment."

We have been meeting bi-weekly for almost 3 months and haven't accomplished a thing. Better yet, each meeting was talk about an issue and assign a "committee" to research the problem and come up with a solution. There are so many committees and not one has come up with a solved problem yet. In addition, the same non-Turtles (poor bastards) keep getting volunteered to be on these committees. One of my co-workers for example is now in his 7th committee. Remember, as a Turtle, "lay low", the Wolves will get picked for these kinds of assignments as long as you don't volunteer or make eye contact when assignments are being handed out.

Meetings make us dumber, study shows
Brainstorming sessions backfire when group thinking clouds decisions
By Abigail W. Leonard


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