Meetings: A waste of time or a creativity workshop?
News from Signet 2 years ago No Comments


Are they needed in our digital workplace?  Do we need to spend hours behind closed doors with an A board and various multi coloured pens?

Do we merely have meetings for meetings sake?

I work in an industry that is overwhelmed by meetings.  As a recruiter, I meet all my clients, I interview all my candidates, and I have sales meetings, catch up meetings, 1-2-1’s with my directors and team.  I also train all new staff, which takes place in a meeting room.  Then we meet to review the training.

I spend a vast amount of the week in meetings, not to the extent that my desk is pining for me, but I will confess to have a very close relationship with our boardroom….

Are my meetings stopping my effectiveness? 

Could I be more productive if I spent more time wooing my desk?

It’s a dilemma, because to be honest, I like a good meeting.  I find some of the businesses best ideas originate when we bring the consultants away from their desks.  When we take a step back from the day-to-day role and look at being innovative in our business.

The internet is filled with articles calling for an end to the meeting, a ban on 1-2-1’s and asking for a time limit to be imposed on ‘catch up chats.’  This article from The Guardian looks at how many meetings are pointless and identifies the cost of meaningless meetings to a business.

It doesn’t completely damn the idea of a group of people sitting in a room together, but it provides an interesting debate.

Then today I read this article from Fistful of Talent, that made me realise that perhaps my love of a good old fashioned face to face conversation is not as archaic as I thought.

The author, Paul Hebert, the Vice President of Solution Design at Symbolist, writes;

Meetings help us have conversations. Meetings help us share and reinforce ideas. Conversations are where we find meaning and where we find reason. Data driven by our use of technology can help point us in general directions for further study – but it cannot interpret the data like a good human conversation. One that gets to the root of something just below the surface behind the impulsive click and send.”

I may have fist pumped in agreement.

I concur completely that if a meeting is without purpose, then like anything in life without purpose, it is a waste of time.  However if a meeting is defined before starting, given an objective, even a time limit is necessary, then human interaction can create some explosive results that is not always achieved by hitting send on an email.

My rules for my own meetings are:

Give the interaction a meaning, a business objective.

Work towards that objective.

Allow everyone an opportunity to speak but have someone to steer the ship if it glides off course.

Conclude with tasks, delegated to ensure the results are followed through.

Then of course reconvene to measure the results and analyse success.

I am intrigued by the idea of stand up meetings, as mentioned in the Guardian article, and would like to know more about any success that have been had in business this way?

Plus your thoughts? Are meetings a waste of time? Do we abuse them in the modern world?  Or are they still the best way to inspire conversation and innovation within your team?