Monday, April 27, 2015

Meetings

Brenda Starr regaled me with her tale of woe over locally grown tomatoes and kale this morning. She'd done her part of the project.  She traveled and observed and inquired and then she stopped and thought and created analyses and opinions which she then turned into prose.

Publishing that prose as a series or a section or a quick-let's-tell-that-story-before-someone-else-scoops-us happens after meetings.  And it's in the meetings that egos and power often trump reason and sense.  It's in those meetings that individual differences become magnified.  Decisions, direction, and actions fall by the wayside.

I went to the inaugural meeting of an Advisory Board last week, and was able to share my own sad story.  We were to be an adjunct to the Board of Directors, but the distinctions were no where to be found.  The initial prospectus had requirements which those of us around the table would be unable to meet, but that (to me, seemingly insurmountable problem) was left un-addressed.

Both Brenda Starr and I had fallen victim to the same sad tale.  The meeting had become its own reason for being.  There were available ears, so words were spoken.  The words were interesting and often quite profound, but they bore no relationship to the issues at hand.

Content was sacrificed.  Attention was prized.

"Perhaps we should meet monthly," someone suggested at the table around which I sat.  As my stomach clenched and my fists pounded my thighs, I tried mightily to control myself.  Twelve of these events a year would surely push me over the edge of sanity.  I love the organization and support its goals, but I have friends I don't see 12 times a year.  And when I see them, we actually do something.

Surely there could be a better use of our time. Was it really necessary to gather together and share in person?  I could envision such a scenario, but we aren't there, yet.  We have no focus, no plan.  We have desire and commitment.  Somehow, the two must meld.  I'm just not sure that meetings are the answer.

Purple Passion had invited me to serve; and she was sharing my pain as we sat and accomplished nothing.  Brilliant ideas were tossed out; no plans were made to follow through.  We have no structure.  We have no designated leader.  We have no agenda.  Our presence would satisfy the accreditors for whom, I think, our group was created.  But I have no interest in having my name attached to a masthead; if I'm involved, I want to be involved.

If ever there were a need for a Mission Statement and a copy of Robert's Rules of Order, this was the place.  Oh yes, denizens, this was the place.

Purple Passion, reading my mind, suggested the creation of a Goal Statement, a Proclamation of Our Purpose, and I, not missing a beat, agreed and volunteered to write it with her.  We've written together before, we told the others, and her departure for Maine next week was not a problem since we'd be doing the work on-line.

There was no vote, no formal discussion, but we took the nodding of heads to be agreement.

Over dinner, we agreed that neither of us would sit through that again.  Our sessions would begin and end at specific times.  We would have an agenda and come to a formal consensus before moving on to the next item.  Once decided, items would not be subject to further discussion... as they had been, repeatedly, at the meeting we just left.

You know what I mean, don't you?  As you're packing up your briefcase after concluding (you thought),  someone reopens a discussion, and then everyone is sitting down again, rehashing and wondering, and then all that was done is undone.  I felt like a fool, standing in the corner with my stuff hanging from my fingers and my shoulders but I was not taking my seat again.   We were done. We had assignments.  What more was there to say?

I was reminded, at that moment, of an email exchange with Little Cuter.
Have you EVER been to a meeting which was worthwhile? she wondered, plaintively.
My answer was snarky, but true.
Yes, sweetie, I have.  I ran them.  

8 comments:

  1. Reminds me of the department chairs meetings at school. Like you, the best two years of meetings were the ones I chaired. I finally said, enough, and turned the gavel over to someone else, who I think, 10 years later, is still the chair person. Without a firm hand at the helm, nothing gets accomplished.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I moved to Tucson, I promised myself that I would NOT ATTEND MEETINGS and I've been pretty good at following through on that resolution. This was a favor to a friend, who suffered along with me!
      a/b

      Delete
  2. These days, I don't have this problem with what I do, but my husband does. For him when it'd necessary to touch bases, the least waste of time is when it's done with the conference calls. They avoid the need to drive anywhere.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never feel satisfied with a conference call, Rain. I always feel like I'm talking over someone, or that I'm missing the nuance of a raised eyebrow. But I do like sitting at home at my desk, listening in my own space. .... no one can see me yawn!
      a/b

      Delete
    2. they use webcams for it. It saves him a LOT of miles of driving. And they are more dealing with facts than politics which might help

      Delete
    3. I can only imagine how satisfying a conversation about facts would be. Every meeting I attend has *issues*
      a/b

      Delete
  3. Gosh, I hate meetings at least where I work. A lot of times, there are way too many people in the meeting and it makes it very hard to come to a consensus. There are people invited to meetings that shouldn't even be there and sometimes these are the decision makers and they don't let the people (like me) who will be doing the work have any say. But I still have to sit in on the meetings. If someone isn't going to at least let me voice my opinion, why even invite me? It's a total waste of my time.

    Every Monday morning we have a group meeting and a lot of the times, I'm sitting there daydreaming because what's being talked about is so way over my head. I just wish I didn't have to attend.

    I guess it's like this everywhere--unless there is someone who is running the meeting that has a clue and is respectful of people's time.

    I feel for you.


    Megan xxx

    ReplyDelete
  4. Megan, here's what you wrote on October 20, 2011 at 6:39 AM:

    I'm with you on meetings. Every Monday we have a staff meeting and I often just daydream in them. It's 'cause they are a complete waste of my time and I don't understand what's being said. I'm in a group with a bunch of Software Engineers and I'm not a coder. I'm a designer. So I sit and dream while others drone on and on. And so how I wish I could get back that 30 minutes of my life each Monday. :)

    Just sayin' :-)
    Hugs,
    a/b

    ReplyDelete

Talk back to me! Word Verification is gone!

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails