Konubinix' opinionated web of thoughts

Are Meetings Really Unproductive?


It seems like a lot of people say that they where attending meeting and therefore they were not productive.

Is it because they don’t feel confident not doing what they are not doing?

What does productive mean anyway?

At first glance, I think that there are two issues here.

  1. people attend regular followup meeting and feel forced to justify the time they spent. This might trigger a kind of impostor syndrom when they just cannot say “I did this and that”.
  2. people don’t see the link between the meeting goal and their horizons of commitment.

I think that 1. is likely to be quite spread, because people tend to forget that dailies are not about telling our live. Also, we tend to focus such meeting on people, asking each one what they did do, instead of focusing on the goal, asking what is the plan to make it move forward today.

will imposing a time keeper on meetings help?

Another complaint that I here often is that meeting are too long. The solution that people appear to unanimously take is enforce time constraints.

To me, this is another case of the feeling good bias. To me, what happens is:

  • people realize that the meeting wastes a lot of time,
  • an idea that immediately comes to mind is to force the meeting to take less time,
  • this idea comes to mind so easily that the system 2 let it go though,
  • people share it immediately, leading to groupthink,

To me, those people did not take the take to try to understand what caused the meeting to take too much time. They try to mitigate the consequence instead of the cause. In my experience, it does not help solve anything in the medium and long run.

Meetings are a part of our collective organisation. If there is something going wrong with them, it most likely mean that there is something going wrong with the way we decided to work together.

Something striking then is how much people don’t want to apply methods and therefore how predictable the long meeting effect is. And yet they won’t realize that this is the expected consequence and simply work on the “long meeting” effect. see misconception about the daily meeting.

The daily meeting is well suited to suffer from the “long meeting” effect, because people tend to apply the three questions fallacy, making it very vague in its objective and therefore very prone to people using it to share any thought that comes to mind.

I am inclined to judge the decision of adding a time constraint as counter productive. remove constraints, don’t add some.

In any case, I feel like this fall into the CKMS tragedy.