Self Management = efficiency and Success? LO28538

From: Benjamin Compton (
Date: 05/17/02

Replying to LO28528 --

At wrote:

"The organisation which I wrote about has a hirarchial management
structure. One night during one meeting of one committee, I could not keep
my mouth shut. I said that its meeting was merely a cloak repetition for
the meeting of its supervising commitee. During that meeting all the
subordinate committees will each go through the motions once again. What a
waste of free energy!"

Dear At --

You seem to be missing the point: A meeting is often held because it has
the appearance of work without any of the burdens of work. It's what I've
come to call "false work." In the 20 years I've been in the work place,
I've attended countless meetings that were either unnecessary or necessary
but totally ineffective.

Good leaders know when to meet, and in my experience, they meet sparingly.

I find formal meetings to be effective when:

   There is a very clear purpose for the meeting, with an intended result (some form of human action will result from the meeting, and that action will be identified in the meeting). Regular staff meetings do not qualify in my mind as being purposeful.
   Someone will be held accountable for achieving the intended result.
   There will be a maximum of five people in the meeting (any more than that, and the meeting has a good chance of going off topic, or someone in the group will emerge as the complainer finding fault with every idea that is discussed).
   The meeting will last no more than one hour (in my experience this is about the maximum attention span of most adults).
   Everyone agrees that the meeting is over as soon as it goes off topic.

In my experience, these conditions are rarely met. Hence my conclusion
that most meetings are a complete waste.

On the other hand, I find informal meetings to be enormously effective.
I'd really rather have my manager come into my office, sit in a chair, and
talk to me instead of going to a damn staff meeting. This is how I work
with my peers -- everything is on an informal basis. We get together when
we need to and only those that need to be involved are included in our
ad-hoc meetings.

Several years ago I was a quality manager for Novell. We were seeking ISO
9000 certification. And we succeeded. I did a pretty good job. But the
most important thing I took away from that experience was that I was not
cut out to be a manager. I could never learn to play the management games
effectively (I'm a very direct person -- some might say assertive, others
might say aggressive), and I could never tolerate spending so much time in
pointless meetings. The second most important thing I learned was that the
informal organization has a whole lot more power than most people in the
formal organization ever imagined.

I could say quite a bit about informal organizations, but that'll have to
wait. I've got to get back to work ;-)


Benjamin Compton Frisbeetarianism, n.: The belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck.

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