Management Why are we here?

The Laptop Herring

I recently spoke at Yahoo! about the book, and, for this presentation, I adapted the Agenda Detection and Meeting Creatures chapters into a piece about how I assess agendas and people in the first 10 minutes of any meeting.

Early on in the presentation, I asked the audience, “What are the things you are supposed to do to make a successful meeting?” First hand: “Make sure everyone closes their laptop.” Yes. Full agreement from me. If you’re sitting in my meeting and your laptop is open, I promise, I swear — you are giving me half of your attention. Maybe less.

The Yahoos couldn’t drop the topic. In Q&A, the laptop question came up. In the post-presentation mingle it came up again. Everyone wanted to know if there was a situation where it was OK to whip out the laptop.

My answer, over and over again, is “No.”

Now, this is religion and not reality because it’s likely I’ll bring my laptop to a couple of meetings this week, but I am ultimately fucking up by doing this. Here’s why.

Laptop Tolerance

There were three different angles the Yahoos tried on me, and I have an answer for each:

“What if I’m taking notes on my laptop?”

This is how laptops got invited to the party. Pre-wireless-everywhere folks were using their laptops as note-paper. This is fine, but nowadays, are you really just taking notes? Really? It takes one lull in the conversation to get bored and starting glancing over at CNN, and in that moment I might say something you need to know and you missed it because you stopped listening. So, what are you doing in this meeting? If you’re going to ignore me, you can just as easily do it sitting in your office.

One solution to this problem is to leave the laptop in your office and bring a nice, bright sheet of white paper to the meeting. Try it. When forced, you might even find something interesting in the dull parts of the meeting.

“I’m required to go to this meeting and I have no role, so I bring my laptop to get work done.”

I have two answers to this. First, why the hell are going to this meeting if you have no role? Second, even if you don’t have a role, how do you know you don’t have a role? If you’re sitting there ignoring whatever is being said while you’re scrubbing the bug database, you have nary a clue what is being talked about.

When I’m forced to go to a meeting where I have no obvious role or responsibility, I give the meeting the benefit of the doubt and listen hard. What is going on here? Do I care? How can I help? With all the wonders of the Internet sitting on my MacBook Pro, this can be tricky, but what I’m trying to figure out is if I can add any value in the time that I’m required to sit there. If, after a few meetings, I’m certain I’m a) not going to learn anything, and b) can’t add any value, I stop going to the meeting. Consequences are forthcoming, but more on that in a moment.

“I run the meeting and they’re not respecting my laptop policy.”

Some meetings involve piles of people, and this creates a comfortable anonymity where attendees ignore the no-laptop policy and type away. My advice here is to politely remind everyone of your policy. Still a problem? Remind them again. More typing? It’s time to remove these people from the meeting.

Being a meeting jerk has consequences, but it’s those consequences you want to face because you’ve got a bigger problem than people ignoring your meeting.

The Herring

All this focus on laptops as the problem is a red herring. Whether you’re running a meeting with a rampant laptop problem or sitting in a meeting where you have no role, the actual problem is that someone doesn’t understand the value of the meeting.

No, it’s actually worse.

The problem is that everyone attending this laptop-laden clusterfuck is subconsciously hearing “Hey, in this meeting, it’s A-OK to waste people’s time.”

My question is: “When is it ever ok to waste people’s time?”

You’re on the defensive now and you’re thinking “But Rands, while I’m not actively contributing to this meeting, I am getting work done on my laptop.” No, you’re not. You’re giving the same partial attention to your laptop task that you’re giving to the meeting. You are doing two things poorly rather than one thing well.

The solution here is simple. If you’re in a meeting where you have no role such that you’re tempted to stare at your laptop: stop going. If you’re running a meeting infested with laptops and, after repeated gentle reminders about your no-laptop policy, there are still laptops: remove the laptop offenders from the meeting.

This brute force approach strikes me as being a violation of the Rands “Don’t be a prick” policy, but frequent readers know that not being a prick is always trumped by the even more important policy of “Don’t waste my time”. Besides, being a prick is going to have some interesting side effects.

Standing Meeting Momentum

Meetings become part of organizational culture. Just like any organization has a healthy layer of baffling acronyms, they also have a set of core standing meetings. Some of these meetings have been around forever and have a life of their own.

Thing is, in the five years that you’ve been working at that company, the company has (hopefully) changed. More importantly, so have the employees. So why in the world do we still have that useless product status review for everyone on Tuesdays at 4pm? I can get all the information from the wiki Frank set up.

If you have no role in a meeting and stop going, or if you remove someone from a meeting, you’re going to create a conflict with whoever believes that you (or the other someone) should be in that meeting. This is great. This is the discussion you want to have: “Frank, I’ve been to this meeting 12 times and I’ve no clue what I’m doing here. Please advise.”

Maybe Frank has some insight for you. Maybe he can explain some strategic shenanigans that will adjust your perspective so that your first reaction in this meeting isn’t to surf the popular videos on YouTube. If Frank can’t clearly explain why you need to be there — guess what — I’ve just saved you 30 minutes to an hour each week. Please consider this an early Christmas present.

A bunch of people sitting in a meeting, staring at their laptops, is a fat meeting. The people sitting at their laptops have no incentive to change a thing because they’re lost in whatever has captured their interest on their laptops. This is a lazy meeting full of people who are ignoring the most important question: “How do we figure out how to never have this meeting again?” Even worse, an organization that lets this meeting exist is a rotting organization. It’s a company where it’s slowly becoming acceptable to sit there and do nothing.

A meeting must fight to exist. It must defend its existence to its attendees who should constantly be asking “Why are we here?”

Now you understand the other thing I do in the first 10 minutes of any standing meeting: I think about how I can kill it.

40 Responses

  1. As a manager, I try to follow the rules mentioned above in meetings I host… but for most of the meetings I attend, hosted by executives above me, I so disagree with you. If you own the company or you’re the “boss”, you can have this attitude – but to think that most of us have that sort of power or influence to just “stop going” is a tad arrogant and shows a lack of “touch” with most environments. Most meetings ARE a total waste of time which I’m forced to endure and have no ability in my position to change or extricate myself from – I would love to stop going but I can’t – nor can I reasonably direct the meeting in a better direction or change this unfortunate corporate culture without committing career suicide (and no, I actually work at a very cool place other than this unfortunate quirk). The laptop allows me to be productive during that time and keep from having to work late into the evening, impacting my time with my son and wife – even if it only attains part of my attention. I hope none of the execs at my company reads your blog – if they do and start wielding this in meetings, I’m holding you personally responsible for destroying my family time!

  2. I fully support the lone exception to the no-laptop rule.

  3. @Rich You have options. Talk to people. Talk to your boss. You don’t have to just up and walk out and send back meeting invites with an empty Decline. The bluntness here is to get you to think. The note about consequences is one to pay close attention to. If you think that following this advice would cost your job and you like your job, then don’t do it (especially if the rest of the job is pretty cool).

    But again, solving the larger problem is something that would be good for any organization and any movement in that direction would be a positive move for everybody.


  4. I sometimes have a laptop open at meetings that last more than ten minutes. Me and the other manager. That’s because we’re actively closing or creating work items for stuff that’s brought up at the meeting. The work items are used by the whole team.

    Most meetings, I don’t bring a laptop, I bring my lab book. That’s because most of my meetings are daily 5-10 minute SCRUM meetings. My team adopted SCRUM under protest but it’s proven itself. 10 minutes and we’re all gone, unless the SCRUM meeting has generated a couple of informal whiteboard meetings to address issues raised.

  5. rev_matt_y 17 years ago

    I would propose a lone exception to the no-laptop rule: note taker. Certainly taking notes on paper would likely be more efficient, but in this day and age the low ranking suckers who end up being assigned note-taker duty barely know what a pen and paper are, let alone how to use them.

    I work in a building where there are very large meetings (30+ people) pretty regularly, and in general 2/3 of the people have no reason to be there, if laptops were allowed in meetings it would be ugly. This may be why they won’t allow wi-fi in the building.

    Note that I work for a federal agency, where managers force people to go to meetings because the more people whose time you can waste by making them attend pointless meetings the more important you are. Your tax dollars at work.

  6. For the notetaker, project his/her laptop on the wall so everyone can follow along (and then – no solitaire or email).

    Better yet, practice technography ( where a dynamic collapsible outlined version of the meeting agenda is updated in realtime as action items are created, issues are resolved, and topics are tables for later followup.

  7. Brent Rockwood 17 years ago

    I agree that laptops are harmful in meetings for most values of meeting – but not all.

    We use a scrum-like process which involves two week sprints, punctuated by demo and planning sessions every second Wednesday. Every member of the team brings their laptop. Someone fires up a clean build of the product on the big screen and demos the work accomplished in the past sprint. Someone takes notes of any bugs or changes that need to be made. Those bugs and changes get added to the backlog right then and there.

    It’s the second half of the meeting – the planning section – where laptops really come in handy. Our product manager prioritizes the backlog and we need to come up with estimates for each item so we can decide how much work to commit to for the next two weeks.

    The thing is, there’s no substitute for hard data when estimating. We routinely consult the code, pull up documentation, and code ad-hoc proofs of concept on the spot. Not only does this help us estimate more accurately, it provides a fantastic way for us to share technical knowledge throughout the team and for individual members to get validation of problem solving approaches.

    These are definitely working meetings, and our laptops are essential tools to allow this type of collaboration to happen.

  8. Not wanting to move the topic away from the workplace, but I feel that most, if not all, college professors should adopt the same no lap-top rule. I can’t think of how many classes I spent doing two things poorly and wasted my time being there.

    Excellent post Rands.

  9. Heretic 17 years ago

    I think pens & notebooks should be banned from college classes and business meetings. It’s very obvious that a human being cannot write and listen to the speaker at the same time. Moreover, those with pens and notebooks are likely to be lost in doodling and other frivolous activities.

    Seriously, this is the biggest load of trash I’ve ever heard. The problem has nothing to do with laptops. It has to do with point, purpose and focus. It’s like making wide-impacting stupid rules and policies that impact everyone because a manager is too crappy to handle an individual performance problem.

    Lost a lot of respect in my book on this one Rands…

  10. When I first saw the link from Gruber, I thought “meetings” = “conferences,” in which case something like this would be a horror show:

    and I disagreed because of the various backchannel-uploading-useful things that occur in that context. But I agree about meeting-meetings in a workplace setting. Blackberries and other such devices are, of course, also on the ban list.

  11. I agree that in conferences where the meeting is one-way that a laptop can serve as a useful tool… but if there is wireless, I still find myself surfing the net when, since I chose to go to said conference, I should be listening.

    My current approach is using bringing the iPhone as my “Shit, better write that done” note taking device.

  12. Dave-O 17 years ago

    I went to a conference session presented by Tom DeMarco where he talked about this issue (meetings as a waste of time). One company he consulted for had a policy of no meetings with fewer than x (12, IIRC) people! He much prefered someone at Apple (hey, this was several years ago, I don’t remember here name). If she deteremined a meeting was too large, she would pick the people she knew had work to get back to, have them provide their contribution to the meeting, and send them off.

  13. yoshi 17 years ago

    I would like to back up Rich’s comments. Been there.

    The issue I have with your note is that you are using laptops as a scapegoat of a poorly managed meeting culture. My last full time position was at a company which run great, focused meetings and essentially required laptops. I would never consider going to a meeting without it because it was part of the toolset that was expected to have available to you as you work through issues. And it worked.

    Now I am a consultant again – and run into pointless meetings all the time. I just choose not to go. Its getting people to stand up and do that is the challenge.

  14. In general I agree with your “no laptop” idea. However, I do think the idea about having a laptop projected onto the screen for real time task list updating, etc is a great idea.

    My pet peeve is the use of blackberries in meetings. My associates have them set up to receive emails and they are constantly checking their emails during meetings.

    I would like to suggest they to be banned during meetings.

  15. sandrift 17 years ago

    I have to agree with the no-laptop rule for most cases. I’m a scientist, and every six months to a year, a group of us on a related project get together in a big room to share/discuss our science with what is supposed to be a group of people who are all interested in the topic at hand (much better than a conference). Yet there are some people who persist in sitting behind their laptops tapping away (and they’re usually LOUD TYPERS) the entire time. A while back, I tried it once, thinking that I could be doubly productive, but the truth is that I quickly learned exactly what Rands is saying – you can’t pay attention to what’s happening in the meeting AND whatever’s going on on your laptop screen. It’s like trying to listen to two conversations at a party – the brain literally cannot do it.

    Blackberries/iPhones/etc. should be subject to the same rule – I sit in meetings where representatives of our sponsoring federal agency (which shall remain nameless, but whose initials are N.A.S.A.) are glued to their Blackberry. Including the Administrator of said agency. Even at dinner. (That’s just rude.)

    To digress further, I suspect a lot of these meetings don’t actually need to occur. I gave in to pressure to sit in an institute meeting the other day. Relatively useless information was distributed, which was already around the hallways, and could have been distributed by the director, if he wanted to be sure everyone heard about it. After one hour, a colleague leaned over and said, “40 people, one hour…that’s a work week”. Smart guy. I wonder how many work weeks, at what cost, are lost to meetings that don’t really need to happen in the first place.

  16. If you don’t let people bring laptops to your meeting, then you have an obligation to provide them with notes. It’s unreasonable in the modern era to expect them to take notes on paper and then waste the time necessary to transcribe those notes, later. Saving this pointless time is why we have laptops in the first place. Furthermore, providing people with digital copies (in text or Word files please, no difficult to manipulate formats, no PDFs, no prepackaged crap) leaves them no excuse for bringing their laptops in the first place.

    If you aren’t prepared to do this, then you should expect either the presence of laptops or for none of your points to ever be followed up on. NOT the taking of paper notes. This is 21st century for freak’s sake!

  17. I think taking notes on paper is the way to go. The process of writing down the notes and then reviewing them and marking them up and annotating them quickly one time within the next 24 hours fixes in your head the important take-aways from the meeting. After that you rarely need to look at them.

    The argument that you’ll need to do full text searches on your notes is silly. In real life you won’t need to consult the notes in the future, and if you do, taking them in a sequential notebook will make it easy enough to find them.

    If you can’t write, there’s an easy way to fix that: write. It’s a skill you develop by doing it. If you’re a geek who needs “gadgets,” then geek out with overpriced Moleskins and and the latest cult pen (Pilot G2 seems to be it now).

  18. Grover 17 years ago

    I’m going to have to agree with Rich’s comment. Your organization may be different, but most of us do not have the authority to simply choose not to attend a meeting that we know, without question, will be a complete waste of our time. It’s part of the managerial culture to have meetings, even when the problem is already solved. Meetings are sometimes scheduled solely so the scheduler can rant and rave about something they’ve already privately ranted and raved about to each and every person at the meeting (This new policy is unfair to me). Sometimes it’s just an ego/power thing (Let’s meet every two weeks even though we talk about this every day). If your organization doesn’t have pointless meetings, you are a very lucky man.

    And again, those of us that have to choose between going home at 8PM instead of at 5 like the people who schedule the meetings or working through yet another pointless meeting are always going want to bring a laptop.

    If people are getting bored and dropping off to check out CNN, doesn’t that say something about the quality of the meeting/class.

    Shot version: Make your meeting worth coming to and I won’t bring a laptop.

  19. For the folks saying that in some environments you can’t talk to your manager or execs about not attending meetings that you don’t see of value I have one question. Have you tried yet?

    I would argue that some people don’t realize that they’re doing things reducing the value, especially when they calculate how much money they’re spending to keep a bunch of people in a one hour meeting. Chances are they don’t like to waste money and they don’t like people who waste their time.

  20. UncleArgyle 17 years ago

    I’m not sure that laptops are the real problem at meetings.

  21. Henry Maddocks 17 years ago

    @ Heretic, I think you might have missed the point

  22. Heretic 17 years ago

    Henry… no, I got it perfectly. Poor management is about creating crappy rules to solve problems rather than addressing the heart of the issue and dealing with individuals.

    Rigid, severe (tyrannical) rules are for the weak manager. The biggest problem with management today is that rather than deal with individuals and people, we deal with the lowest common denominator and create rules, because we’re too lazy and scared to deal with people and address real problems. Banning laptops removes thought and innovation from your employees. Stupid rules demoralize your good employees – punish the high-performers.

    Rands is obviously so much smarter than the rest of us or any of our employees and has made the determination that laptops should never be allowed in meetings. He’s targeting the wrong problem. Instead, another rule is created; to heavy-handedly resolve the problem that he’s not capturing the attention of his audience, or he isn’t capable of addressing employees who aren’t doing their job properly, or for having frivolous meetings (or presentations) that should have never taken place to begin with.

  23. david 17 years ago

    @Heretic, no, you really missed the point.

    The article is called “The Laptop Herring” and I’ll quote “All this focus on laptops as the problem is a red herring.” I think Rands is pretty clear that laptops aren’t the issue. Poorly managed meetings and meetings that are allowed to exist unchecked are the issue.

    Also, I don’t think the article is necessarily for managers. I think it’s for anyone who is sitting in a crappy meeting wondering what they can do. Again, “If you’re in a meeting where you have no role such that you’re tempted to stare at your laptop: stop going.”

    He’s not arguing for banning laptops. He’s arguing for quality meetings. Like Grover said, “Make your meeting worth coming to and I won’t bring a laptop.”

  24. Heretic 17 years ago

    Ok… @David. I really didn’t. Obviously you didn’t read the title of this blog:

    Management Why are we here?

    It’s right above the title… And while the article talks about poorly managed meetings, the whole article talks about banning laptops from the meetings… and his responses to Yahoo folk on why they shouldn’t be allowed in meetings.

    Seriously, you’re making my point for me. If the article was about better meetings through better management, I would be happy. The fact of the matter is that the whole article was about banning laptops – heavy handed rules… a poor style of management.

  25. Paul Roberts 17 years ago

    I’m a big advocate of the “leave every laptop and phone behind” in meetings rule, and I used to have some control over this. I work at a company similar to Yahoo in culture and size, and this is a rampant problem. Especially the problem noted earlier where the mgt ranks are mixed and you sometimes can’t make wide-sweeping general rules and expect them to be followed.

    But these days (and for the last 4-5 years probably) we’ve faced a new challenge with such policies. We’ve moved to a very very liberal telecommuting policy (to the point of encouraging it), and almost all meetings are phone and web conference–in fact, show up in person and it will only be you, the speaker phone and an empty conference room (why I wonder do we need 50+ buildings in expensive Silicon Valley at this rate).

    So how do you control the wild attention deficit at such meetings? People openly do other things in meetings (it’s almost expected that everyone be multi-tasking, every moment).

  26. off-topic

    rand, would you please allow readers to navigate backwards and forwards through your posts?

    i don’t get to read you that often, but when i do, i tend to catch up on all of my unread posts (and no i don’t use my rss reader), but trying to read your archives is needlessly difficult because there’s no easy way to move backwards/forwards post-by-post.

  27. I’m going to run an experiment for the next 2 weeks’ worth of meetings. I’m going to try to strike a balance between not going to meetings where I really don’t have a role and being there fully for meetings where I do (either without laptop or with it closed).

    This will be a big change for me and at the company I am part of. It will be particularly challenging in round robin status meetings where I have a role for part of the meeting but not the rest. The experiment largely consists of learning whether I can extract value from listening to the parts of these meetings I haven’t listened to in the past.

    I’ll let you know what I learn.

  28. “I’ve just saved you 30 minutes to an hour each week. Please consider this an early Christmas present.”

    At my work, this should read, “I’ve just saved you an extra one to two hours each week.”

  29. You write:

    “But Rands, while I’m not actively contributing to this meeting, I am getting work done on my laptop.” No, you’re not. You’re giving the same partial attention to your laptop task that you’re giving to the meeting. You are doing two things poorly rather than one thing well.

    …But Rands, what about N.A.D.D.?

  30. Hm. I’m totally against rules that are 100% and no exceptions (except the note-taker exception).

    I don’t agree with you on this, Rands. I see your point, but I think you fail at the first argument:

    “One solution to this problem is to leave the laptop in your office and bring a nice, bright sheet of white paper to the meeting. Try it. When forced, you might even find something interesting in the dull parts of the meeting.”

    No no no. When I’m at a meeting, I can structure the todos I get in software. I can immediately check things my boss or others ask me online. Instead of wasting my time entering things twice, and mailing (aaaaaargh) people stuff later, things that I just as well could have said in 10 seconds in the meeting.

    Maybe it’s because I work with media and web publishing, but a meeting without laptops here would be like a garage with no tools. It’s a lame idea. Use the tools suited for the task at hand. If the meeting is about cranking out new ideas, bring a pile of paper, crayons whatever. If it’s about the new website, bring laptops. If it’s about money, bring Excel (or Numbers!). There’s no such thing as “Make sure everyone closes their laptop.”

    “So why in the world do we still have that useless product status review for everyone on Tuesdays at 4pm? I can get all the information from the wiki Frank set up.”

    Absolutely true. Too many meetings are frankly people reading up statuses on stuff. Even in high technology companies.

  31. First, please expand this rule to cellphones and smart phone devices like Blackberries. People checking their email constantly means they aren’t paying attention and is distracting. They then have to have things repeated which lengthens the already long meeting.

    Second, what about wi-fi free meeting rooms. Or just turn off the wi-fi during important meetings. They can still take notes, but can’t surf the web, check email, or do anything except maybe play games.

  32. Jim McNeely 17 years ago

    I think the laptop misuse in a meeting is a symptom of an unfocused meeting with too many of the wrong people invited. Meetings should accomplish work, and the right people should be at them to accomplish that work. We have a database interface set up specifically to facilitate meetings, with lists of ongoing projects, and the ability to actually put notes against tasks, add budget items, assign people to tasks right there, send correspondence to concerned parties, etc. It is all designed to work on a projection monitor. It works for us. I think it helps to reexamine what meetings are even for, and design systems toward that end.

  33. I agree with parts of this article.. but I think the Laptop aspect is not the issue here. For example, I work at a large well-known company and attend many long meetings. During these meetings, EVERYONE has their laptop open. It simply isn’t an issue. Meeting agendas are well constructed and sent in advance, thus I might attend knowing that the portion concerning me is within the last half. Obviously I’m only paying half-attention to both the meeting and my work, but in the end, I have a rough idea of what’s going on in the project, I haven’t completely wasted the rest of the meeting time, and I’ve paid full attention during the parts that concern me.

    In short, laptops aren’t the issue… it’s the quality of meeting, and your self control during that time. Believe me, I could just as easily choose to zone out of a boring meeting by daydreaming if I didn’t bring my laptop.

  34. Ok, most meetings are a total waste of time. However, the majority of meetings that I run I require people to bring their laptop because they are WORKING meetings where we are actively creating something that needs contribution from each person where it will take much less time for the person in charge of that to look up the information than for me to switch back and forth.

    Of course, my meetings all run between 15 and 30 minutes. No one complains about having to be at my meeetings – which is not true of any other meetings that I know of, because they get their work done.

    My rule is simple. I don’t care what you are doing on your laptop as long as you are able to answer the questions I need you to answer during the meeting – and if you can’t, you are obligated to have the answers to everyone ASAP.

    I have both a very low absenteeism rate and high success rate.

    Honestly, management likes useless meetings and process. This is a universal constant. And it is the main reason that productivity tends to be downward in some industries.



  35. Bryce 17 years ago

    Looks like you hit a nerve here, Rands. I think this is easily the most volatile and irrational selection of comments I’ve seen on a ‘serious’ blog in a long time.

    In fact, the level of vitriol being perpetuated by your opponents here speaks volumes against their very own point. It reaches levels of fallacy that’s usually reserved for fanboyism.

    I don’t understand here – nor have ever understood – what point there is in making an utterly definitive statement (whether hollow or not) against someone or something based on one experience. This behavior is doubly inexplicable when the person making the statement was previously a devotee. Why would anyone stop reading Rands simply because they disagree with him this one time? Isn’t that childish? I dislike Eyes Wide Shut intensely but I’m not about to discount Kubrick’s entire career; that’d make a fool out of me.

    The more notoriety you gain the larger the following – for better and for worse. So why is it that this conga line was just hit by a train?

  36. Mark weinmann 17 years ago

    As a recent grad o f the University of Phoenix I had to attend many meeting like classes for four hours. I had to be there just like at work. When there was no wifi I was using my laptop to pass time, or work on papers that were due in that class. I’m an auditory learner, so it was not a problem; one thing that you have to take into account is the learning style of the individual meeting participants. I admit I played hours of Tetris under the table on my palm pilot. After wifi I admit that I read a lot of news on my laptop, but it was awesome to fact check information using search engines. As for large meetings with 30 people 1. It is a waste of time only the strong voices will be heard and 2. It is a power trip, look how many people I can force to attend this meeting.

  37. Brian 17 years ago

    Rands – I’m in a meeting now with my laptop! You are my CNN

  38. Kimberly 17 years ago

    If you ever want to separate out the “doers” from the “talkers”, try cancelling a huge weekly meeting that’s been in place forever and that everyone “knows” is crucial. I did that two years ago. The “doers” were relieved because it left them with more time to do thing. The “talkers” were in a tizzy and immediately started figuring out what kind of new meetings to schedule. What they came up with were meetings that were much more useful, and I believe that cancelling the old meetings were an essential step for that.

  39. CyPhi 17 years ago

    Sounds like there are two issues a foot – 1: bringing your laptop to a meeting and 2: whether or not you should be in the meeting in the first place.

  40. John Hoffoss 17 years ago

    I don’t like the note-taker option. I’d rather have my own written notes, as I retain information better, plus I have a convenient location to place action items. These (action items) might be the single most effective way for me to judge my usefulness in a meeting, is if I walked away with work or tasks to contribute to the group.

    This was a great post to read during this meeting! 😉