This past weekend I read an interesting interview with Lew Cirne, the Chief Data Nerd (Lew’s Twitter title) at New Relic, a software analytics company based in San Francisco. The comment that piqued my interest was when Lew indicated that big meetings make you lose focus.
Candidly, I believe that meetings are the Big Black Hole in Corporate America, a concept I introduced in my first blog post back in 2008 titled Outsourcing Makes $en$e. In my post, I shared the survey findings of the top time wasters among executives. The amount of time they wasted in meetings was one of their leading responses.
Lew in his comments did not address the time factor of meetings. Instead he talked about the size factor where he observes people feel less willing to share/volunteer contributions in big meetings, especially in the presence of senior management. Lew believes big meetings become more about receiving information than people actually being part of the dialogue. Consequently, he has a table in his office with six seats in order to avoid big meetings. He also reviews his quarterly calendar to question the validity/focus of each meeting scheduled.
Don’t get me wrong. I think meetings are still relevant to keep the flow of communication and tasks moving in an organization. However, as more companies embrace Social Enterprise and empower/train their people to become “knowledge workers” in the collaborative world of Web 2.0, something has to give in the time management equation. I recommend the Big Black Hole is the first place to conduct a time management analysis.
Stay focused! Avoid the Big Black Hole.