A lot of you will know that my vocation is as a computer consultant. Most of you will have no idea exactly what I do. Even my kids and wife don’t really know what I do day in and day out and part of that is because as I go from client to client, job to job, I do different things. Sometimes it heads down stare at a computer screen all day and never talk to anyone and just “doing stuff”, and others it’s seemingly endless face to face discussions with other consultants and the client. Most times it’s somewhere in the middle.
One thing that irks me about all the different clients I’ve been at is the propensity to have meeting after meeting for no apparent reason. Meetings get called for status updates, delegation of work, discussion of strategy, discussion of options, post-audits of what went wrong, and discussions of what went right. I’m a doer and have very little patience for people who needs to hand-held through decisions and through the process of making them think *they* made the decision that I’m already running with :) God’s teaching me that patience, slowly, I think, but there are days when I wonder if God’s “teaching” is falling behind my co-workers’ ability to think straight and make quick decisions.
Now meetings can come in two forms — face to face, and conference calls. Face to face meetings are great if you have all the people in the same location and you have something that needs to be decided quickly, but conference calls are good if you’ve got a team of people spread out over a distance that makes it impractical to get together for a face to face. For instance, it makes no sense for me to travel an hour one way to have a 15 minute meeting and then travel back again. This is much better served by a quick call with all the parties who have input and then you can move on. But conference calls in some places seem like a complete waste of time, and they usually are. I ran across TWO interesting pieces this past week of Conference Calls which both make similar points, which “Use conference calls when it’s appropriate and avoid them when it’s not!”
So here’s your action plan….
1) For a good laugh watch this video that lets you see what a conference call would be like if we behaved that way in a real meeting.
2) Now read Seth Godin’s blog post on “Conference Call Hygiene“. I love his final point… “Almost all conference calls that involve more than five people are either a lazy choice or a show of power, and should be eliminated. If you want to talk, for sure, please pick up the phone and call me.”
3) Now, cancel all the conference calls you’ve scheduled and get some real work done