I’m currently reading REWORK by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson and have come to the section ‘Meetings Are Toxic’. This is an area that troubled me as a school principal so their observations about meetings really resonated with me.
“The worst interruptions of all are meetings. Here’s why:
They’re usually about words and abstract concepts, not real things.
They usually convey an abysmally small amount of information per minute.
They drift off-subject easier than a Chicago cab in a snowstorm.
They require thorough preparation that most people don’t have time for.
They frequently have agendas so vague that nobody is really sure of the goal.
They often include at least one moron who inevitably gets his turn to waste everyone’s time with nonsense.
Meetings procreate. One meeting leads to another meeting leads to another…”
The authors go on to observe how inefficient meetings are. A one hour meeting with 10 attendees is actually 10 ‘man hours’. Do the outcomes of the meeting justify 10 hours of work? How many man hours are each of your staff meetings?
The message for people in schools is to reflect on whether our meetings are as efficient as they could be. What is the purpose and intended outcome of this meeting? Is there a better, more efficient way to achieve that outcome?
PS I had similar concerns about school assemblies. In Hong Kong the British influence led to an expectation that the Principal would engage the students with a weekly story on assembly. One day I did the sums…900 students and 50 staff listening to me for 30 minutes is a staggering 475 man hours!!! The story would want to be good!