I am not a meeting person. I fall asleep in meetings as the committee queens pontificate. Worse: I grow irritated as the bobbing heads proffer opinions about things they know nothing about. Even worse: I get into inane arguments with egos that see this as a contest of gladiators.
Yet today I completed a two-day meeting that I enjoyed and report was a great success. Here are my observations about this successful, stay-awake meeting.
First, there was a person of intelligence and skill in charge. He set the tone and the agenda. In quiet but firm tones, he said what our meeting objective was, and he interceded when we strayed from objective & direction. He knew the facts; did not use this as an opportunity to learn; and balanced the egos seeking more consulting work.
Second, all meeting attendees had been hand-picked. They knew their skills and understood their project roles. More: they were all intelligent and devoid of ambition other than the doing of a good job to advance the project. They spoke up when asked and interceded when the drift drifted from the real & practical.
Third, we all knew each other and joked frequently. What a power joking is to keep errant egos in line!
Forth, we went out to eat, drink, and whore after the first day. Talk of tribal bonding! The second day, the atmosphere was relaxed and mutually supportive. We intuitively knew and understood each other’s social skills, ambitions, desires, and deepest desires.
Fifth, we were lead by a firm leader to a common goal. It will require hard work, mutual cooperation, and out-of-the-box thinking to achieve these goals. Yet we committed to this goal as a community (tribal) objective & benefit.
The fact is that a well-managed meeting is reflective of the age-old practice of tribal hunting-together, devouring the meat brought home by the men, enjoying the vegetables gathered by the women, and then sitting around the fire that keeps the tiger at bay, while the families share songs, stories, and poems. As this by Walt Whitman:
Once I pass’d through a populous city, imprinting my brain, for future use, with its shows, architecture, customs, and traditions; Yet now, of all that city, I remember only a woman I casually met there, who detain’d me for love of me; Day by day and night by night we were together,—All else has long been forgotten by me; I remember, I say, only that woman who passionately clung to me; Again we wander—we love—we separate again; 5 Again she holds me by the hand—I must not go! I see her close beside me, with silent lips, sad and tremulous.
Yet this is how the poet originally wrote the poem–he was gay and before publication had written:
Once I pass’d through a populous city imprinting my brain for future
use with its shows, architecture, customs, traditions,
Yet now of all that city I remember only a man I casually met
there who detain’d me for love of me,
Day by day and night by night we were together–all else has long
been forgotten by me,
I remember I say only that man who passionately clung to me,
Again we wander, we love, we separate again,
Again he holds me by the hand, I must not go,
I see him close beside me with silent lips sad and tremulous.
Does it matter? In Canada, NO. In the USA, yes as bigots rant & rave–poor fools. In today’s meeting, intelligence, skill, understanding, and contribution counted. Who cares how the conversations and actions went the night before in the club where the music was loud, the people beautiful, the drink strong, and the bull & bill high!
The point is this: well-planned, strongly-lead, and focussed meetings of intelligent people are fun & productive. The minutes are produced by the project manager. The minutes & hours go by fast. I do not fall asleep.