I can’t meet now. I am late for another meeting. Can we meet later?
I work in Corporate America. I have for my entire career. As much as I would like to break free from it and become a writer, I stay safely tucked into the corporate world. I have a cool job.
I hate meetings. The world has become obsessed with meetings. A meeting culture we now live in. Everyday I spend most of it in meetings. We meet in the morning to go over what we’re going to do throughout the day. We have staff meetings in the middle of the morning to make sure we are on track with what we said we would do earlier that morning. We have lunch meetings where platters of cold cuts are laid out on a side table complete with salad and a chocolate chip cookie. We have 1:1 meetings with our boss. We have them with the people who work for us. Sometimes we have meetings with other departments in order to make sure we’re all aligned. Occasionally we will meet with people outside the company. We do this to make sure we’re staying in touch with what’s going on with the outside world while we’re in meetings.
We rarely touch the real world, see the sun shining or the snow falling. We sometimes miss school plays, little league games, and teacher conferences. We miss this stuff because we’re in meetings.
We have planning meetings. In fact, we have meetings to plan for upcoming planning meetings. I am not joking. After we’ve gone through the 5th pre-planning meeting we’re ready for the actual planning meeting. In that meeting we present the plans we’ve been building during our recent meetings. Afterwards we have a post-meeting. We do this to make sure that we’re all on the same page as it relates to the follow up items. We then establish a follow up meeting to make sure the follow up items from the planning meeting have been completed. This helps us as we begin to prepare for our upcoming planning meeting next quarter. We realize that we better go ahead and schedule a series of planning meetings so that we’re ready for the big planning meeting with the parent company next quarter. We do this because if we don’t, no one will be able to find the time to attend due to other meetings. For crying out loud, we’re busy people. If we don’t get it set up now it may never happen. It’s established as a priority for the group and getting together is the only logical way to get everyone on the same page.
Someday, I am going to become a super hero and I am going to attempt to rid Corporate America of un-necessary meetings. I will end buzz words like facilitate, cross-functional, ideate, synergy, collective thinking, visibility, integrated. And, with a little proper planning, maybe even the idea of the meeting itself. Yeah, its an aggressive agenda, I know. I still have hope that I can make a difference……although a few more years in Corporate America and I will ultimately realize that my dream is unlikely.
Obviously – even if I do reach super hero status – I won’t be able to do this alone. I will need help from my counterparts in Finance, Logistics, Marketing, Sales, and Operations. We’ll need to be well coordinated, leveraging the skills across the organization, to create the right level of synergy, helping us to take our game to the next level. If we do this, we will succeed. If we don’t we will fail. Many, many others have tried in the past. They haven’t been able to crack the code because they haven’t leveraged the collective thinking of others.
Yes, I am going to need help. In fact, I am going to need your help.
I am going to ask my assistant to coordinate a meeting so that we can start planning our plan of attack. It is likely that we’ll need to find the time to meet several times to develop the strategic positioning and to develop the right plan. We’ll do this as we work through lunch. We’ll meet in the big conference room next to the vending machine and the copier. We should probably meet ever Wednesday for the next several months. The quarter is wrapping up and we need to make sure we’re on track against our original plan. If for some reason we’re off the plan then we can work on getting back on track at the staff meeting tomorrow morning.
Yes, I will ask Nancy to get it set up. I’d do it myself but I am late for another meeting.
Let’s make a promise to one another here and now. Let’s cut one meeting a day from our schedules and get this thing started.