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.