Meetings – What’s The Point?

Meeting – What's The Point?

I've been trying to be more focused on just a few projects that have income and/or enjoyment potential for my particular life's desires. Part of that behavior modification is that I'm going through another round of getting DIS-connected from all the junk that gets into my Inbox (although I'll admit that much of that is my own fault for clicking on certain 'once in a lifetime offers' in the first place).

This Inbox pruning process is something I find myself having to do at least every 6 months or so.

But there's another time waster of a different type and, although I don't have a major problem with it right now, the potential is always there and I read an interesting article tonight that relates to it. 

What is that evil, time-wasting problem?


Meeting conduct and management have long been a staple item of management literature and training. One reason the problem persists is because technology is constantly changing the way that people can have meetings  whether they be productive or not. Note: One example of that is Dropbox's new product—

Note: One example of that 'progress' is Dropbox's new product— Paper which I just read about tonight (I don't see any use for it for myself).

But it seems to me that meeting in general tend to gravitate toward becoming time-wasters rather than becoming more efficient. 

I just read this article, a very short article (coincidentally), about the way that Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and several other hi-tech projects, holds his (infrequent) meetings. It made so much sense and was articulated so well that I felt compelled to share it with some spin of my own.

The basic message of the article (and presumably part of the reason Mr. Musk is so successful) is: 

Don't have meetings without a purpose and don't go to meetings unless you have a purpose and/or can make a contribution to the group.

I think that's a good rule to follow. But I also think it's worthwhile to recognize why it's easier said than done in this digital and entrepreneurial age where 'meeting technology' is everywhere and many so-called gurus preach the necessity to 'build a tribe').

First of all, we need to remember that there are employees and entrepreneurs. Usually (but not always) most employees in companies are less of an entrepreneurial mindset than the stereotypical entrepreneur working from his/her home office.

Group Member Type 1 – These group members are usually employees. They're paid to come to work and/or be part of whatever meetings the 'boss' wants them to attend. If he/she wants them to waste time listening to him tell fishing stories, rant, or preach, that's his prerogative but those cases he/she is just keeping those employees from actual productive activity and abusing his authority and his employee's time.  

Group Member Type 2 – These members are voluntary members of the larger group, i.e. a decentralized organization or interest group of some sort. They are entrepreneurs who presumably believe in the mission of the company or organization. But, even those these people are independent contractors and leaders also need to be careful when holding meetings with this group.


Because it's easy for leaders to get addicted to the ritual of having their fan club gathered around their dais hanging on his/every word like N.Korean generals when Kim Jong-un is 'in the house'.

It's also often tempting for members of Group 2 Tribes to attend these meetings because (1) they like being entertained, (2) they think somehow it's going to increase their positive Karma, (3) they're hoping the boss will throw them a trinket, or (4) they really don't have anything better to do.

In my humble opinion, meeting policies needs to be re-examined periodically… especially as an organization grows. Meetings can become productive events or counterproductive time wasters that ultimately do more harm than good.

I even think a case could be made for not inviting people to meetings without the understanding that they will try (or, in some cases 'be allowed' to make) a contribution.

Meeting formats where participants are ridiculed or belittled for asking questions or voicing unsubstantiated opinions do not set a good example although the damage is not always immediately apparent…. unless the specific agenda for the meeting is only information dissemination. 

Note: The problem with 'information dissemination only' meetings is that it's very difficult to have a meeting with absolutely no two-way conversation. Long-term… most people are not interested in being a part of any group where their input is not at least allowed (or better yet…respected).

Next time you think about putting on or attending a meeting, remember the advice Tom Hopkins gives in his sales training seminars: "Is this the most productive thing I could be doing with my time (right now)?"

Art Williams
Freelance Copywriter
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