I hate company meetings. I understand that sometimes they are necessary evils and on occasion they are useful, but generally I've found them to be a waste of time. That was my feeling when I worked at one of the largest companies in the world and today, working for a small company, I am just a contemptuous towards meetings.
It's not that I have disrespect for my colleagues or my superiors. One problem is that I have a short attention span and if I don’t feel a vibe within five minutes into the meeting, my mind starts to wonder. One time I was berated by my boss at that large company for doodling during a meeting. I told him that it actually helped me concentrate. When he pushed, I stopped the Picasso artwork and transferred the work to my mind. My thoughts drifted to a programming project I was working on with occasional excursions to food, women, work out, and even old Star Trek episodes.
I've had some good meetings too where I was laser focused. Those were generally held with my counterparts like programmers, system admins, and network engineers. You know, the types of people that I can actually learn something from and there's an educational and productive discourse.
This is not to say that I don’t feel guilty about my attitude. I have often viewed other people in meetings with envy and wonder. How could they possibly hold their focus during these boring meetings? But then along the way something wonderful happened that finally helped to relieve my guilt, at least partially. It was a validation of sorts to observe that most people in meetings weren't as focused as they appeared to be.
The next time you're in your company's meeting take a look around at the participants. You will hear mouse clicks and keyboard taps on open laptops and slumped heads focused on Blackberries and Treos conveniently hidden under the mahogany table being frantically scrolled and thumbed, a phenomenon known as "chipmunking". Yeah sure, these guys are really paying attention. Even the argument that they're working during the meeting (multi-tasking) is a weak one at best. Why bother to come to a meeting, when there's urgent work to be done? Wouldn’t they be more productive at their desks where they don't have to fake interest in the topic being discussed?
Certainly I am not the only one complaining about this. Here's an article in a recent issue of CIO magazine I stumbled upon bemoaning the same issue. Then again, I'm not really complaining. In fact, I am hoping that recognizing the dubious value of frequent meetings, companies cut back on the frivolous gatherings, leaving only the necessary and productive ones. It would also help if aviation rules of take-off were fully enforced, requiring all participants to leave their devices in the off position during the meeting.