Ah, meetings. The necessary evil of the business world. We need them to inform, collaborate, brainstorm, inspire, get approval, give approval, persuade, showboat, compromise, argue, negotiate, brown nose, and sometimes, entertain. The unfortunate fact is that we fall in love with them. We think we are accomplishing something by sitting around a table talking. For a few professions, this is true.
For the rest of us, we need meetings to help guide us, or perhaps, guide others. That’s it. Get what you need, give your input, and get out. If you’re not a CEO, you likely have more important things to be doing than sitting in a meeting – your time is better spent elsewhere.
FastCompany had a great article on meetings, and what Steve Jobs had to say on them. Essentially, you want to keep meetings short (under 30 minutes), to the point, and only include people who are absolutely necessary to the meeting (no “bystanders”).
While Steve Jobs was a bit ruthless in his application, the idea still remains: keep it simple.
I came across this great article on millennials and how to best lead them in the workplace:
To Bring Out The Best In Millennials, Put On Your Coaching Hat
I had an interesting debate with an older colleague the other day, who felt that all work should be performed on a schedule (e.g. 9 to 5). While I wholeheartedly agreed that many positions require a strict schedule, many others do not. If I provide a particular service that others depend on, then a strict schedule is a communication tool to my customers, colleagues, boss, etc. as to when I will be providing that service. This holds true if I am assembling car parts in a plant, on the phone for an IT help desk, providing exercise training for people in a gym, or even managing people.
On the other hand, jobs that require creativity, such as art, engineering, and writing, emphasis should be placed on the final product, not strict adherence to a work schedule. Don’t get me wrong, people still need to be held accountable for meeting deadlines or else nothing will get accomplished. The point is that emphasis should be placed on creativity and flexibility for a number of job positions rather than work hours.
Does this philosophy make me a millennial?
Steve Lacy recently posted critique on “The Google Way.” Even in my engineering positions, managers have tried to implement work ideas from Google, only to have them fail or make the work ethic, moral, or productivity worse. Additionally, many engineering shops maintain a mentality that kill innovation (the very thing that engineering is supposed to accomplish!). For example, Steve writes:
Google has a very, very strong NIH (Not Invented Here) syndrome. Alternate solutions (Hadoop, MongoDB, Redis, Cassandra, MySQL, RabbitMQ, etc.) are all seen as technically inferior and poorly engineered systems. Google needs to get off it’s high horse, and look at what’s happening outside of it’s organization. Hugely scalable services like Twitter are built on almost entirely open source stack, and they’re doing it really efficiently. Open source solutions have a product-focus that’s missing from much of Google’s infrastructure for infrastructure’s sake engineering endeavors. Focusing on the product first, and using any available solution is the agile way to experiment in new spaces.
While his post is mainly focused on the software-side of development, it is still a fantastic read. For all you hardware junkies out there, focus on the theme of how large-scale development efforts and organizations hinder innovation and productivity. Many large organizations WANT to adopt the “startup mentality” but fail to see how. Steve has some great ideas here: http://slacy.com/blog/2011/03/what-larry-page-really-needs-to-do-to-return-google-to-its-startup-roots/