Jake’s Micro-Blog

see also https://jakecoffman.com

Meetings

At work I am known for not liking meetings. At least I’m known for something!

But this isn’t true, I like meetings (video or in-person) because they’re a great tool in the right circumstance.

I don’t like:

  1. Going to a 30 minute or hour meeting to answer a question that could have been answered in an email.
  2. Filling out a meeting’s time by talking, even though the objective of the meeting was met.
  3. Sitting quietly an entire meeting because it doesn’t involve me, I was invited in case someone had a technical question.
  4. Getting invited to a brainstorming meeting, but getting no information ahead of time so no thinking before-hand can take place.
  5. Inviting more people to a meeting to spread knowledge around.
  6. Sitting in a collaboration meeting but people with strong personalities will not leave a lull so others can speak.
  7. Having my days packed with the above situations with no time to do work.

So how can we avoid these situations?

Going to a 30 minute or hour meeting to answer a question that could have been answered in an email.

Try your best to succinctly write the situation, the problem, and some possible solutions in an email. Maybe your hunch was right and a meeting is required, but also maybe not.

Filling out a meeting’s time by talking, even though the objective of the meeting was met.

Meetings should have a purpose. Are you trying to make a decision? As soon as you make the decision, the meeting is over. End the meeting so people can leave, but feel free to keep talking if you want to socialize. Don’t trap everyone else for the rest of the meeting time.

Sitting quietly an entire meeting because it doesn’t involve me, I was invited in case someone had a technical question.

Do due diligence beforehand by gathering technical information required. In most cases it is not, you’re probably making a decision about what the business needs. Take the info decided on after the meeting and send it to a developer to make sure there are no technical hurdles.

Getting invited to a brainstorming meeting, but getting no information ahead of time so no thinking before-hand can take place.

There’s a study that says brainstorming together is more effective if people brainstorm beforehand. This is also incredibly obvious! I imagine all meetings would be shorter (or even avoidable) if we thought about things along beforehand.

Inviting more people to a meeting to spread knowledge around.

Knowledge doesn’t spread well in meetings or over video. This blog post puts it well:

Share Find Contextualise
Chat 💯 😐 👎
Email 😐 😐 😐
Wiki 💯 💯 💯
Issue tracker 💯 💯 💯
Video call 😐 👎 👎

(I translated the emojis into others that are more easily to read.)

Meetings and video calls are one of the worst ways to spread knowledge.

Sitting in a collaboration meeting but people with strong personalities will not leave a lull so others can speak.

I work with a lot of people who are soft-spoken, thoughtful, and/or introverted. So to be in a meeting wit someone who is dominating the conversation is just a huge waste of time. We’re just hearing the thoughts of the loudest person, not necessarily the smartest.

Having my days packed with the above situations with no time to do work.

I spend most of my day coding, diagramming architecture, thinking through and running down bugs, reviewing code, chatting and emailing about all of this, teaching via examples on https://codesandbox.io, writing information down on issues or wikis, moving and organizing cards on a Kanban board, and helping other people.

When I’m wasting time in a bad meeting I’m not working, and I hate it!