Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"How about 10? Does 10 work for you?"

A few more folks from my beloved 911 family have retired in the past couple of weeks, and like everyone else who has made the journey to The Other Side, they are learning the new pace of life AW.  That's "After Work," you see.

You'll see retirees everywhere you look, enjoying life in a new way.  We don't have to go to meetings, and if nothing else makes retirement worthwhile, there you have the best reason.  Meetings at work were always the same...8 or 10 people who would have given anything to be anywhere else on this earth, sitting around a boat-shaped conference table, wishing they were on a conference table-shaped boat, floating down with the barges and scows.

The meeting would always begin with the reading of the minutes, which seemed to take hours. Then there would be an agenda, a word we get from the Latin, the neuter plural of "agendum," meaning "list of items to be discussed until the cows come home." And the head cheese would roll out the list of items for discussion, which all fit into the category of things that could have been solved by two people sitting at one desk for 10 minutes, but no, let's drag this out until lunch.

And because the process of meetings does not involve conclusions, but, rather, continuances, committees will be formed. Let's say that one item on the agenda is that people keep leaving the break area and kitchen messy after lunch.  The quick solution would be to appoint a different workgroup to police the area every day around 2, making sure that it was cleaned up.  One week it would be the the people in Sales, the next, Accounts Receivable, and then Engineering, and so on down the line. Problem solved!

But no.  In the Meeting Method, a committee is appointed to look into the matter, and the person at the head "of the committee appoints several of his or her least favorite people to run subcommittees.  One subcommittee will meet with everyone at lunch for three weeks, "seeking input" which will be immediately discarded.  Another will take field trips to dine with other businesses that have similar lunchrooms, so as to see how they work the cleanup.  Yet another will contact nationwide firms such as "WeKleenIt.Com" to get estimates on sending three or four part time people around every afternoon with Swiffers and Mr Clean in spray bottles. 

Later on, it will become apparent that if people had just been told they were expected to be neat about their workplace, there never would have been a problem to begin with. 

In the meanwhile, all the big head cheeses in all the big businesses and government agencies should take a minute to see if they can't get more done with fewer meetings.  They'll probably need to have a meeting to decide.

And retirees know, no schedule is the best schedule!

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