are meetings banal?

Methinks not.  But, so says the Financial Times’ managementblog. Meetings have long been a source of interest, since people spend so much time in them. People are, after all, social creatures. It is through conversation that we make sense of our world and those conversations either happen inside our heads or on the outside. And doing things together – ie, work – depends on the ones on the outside.

Seth Godin has boiled down meetings to three types and cautions you not to mix them up, saying “Confused meeting types are the number one source of meeting ennui.”  While his simple framework is gratifying – it gives one the sense that, perhaps, if only I follow this easy-to-understand guide, my meetings will once again become useful, under control, relevant, well-organized.

But, people don’t work that way. We are inherently messy.  Anyone who has ever been tasked with leading a change initiative knows that conversations are difficult to map, people respond to new ideas and questions in ways that are not rational, more guided by emotions and unvoiced concerns. Yet, it is through interaction, conversation mostly, that we share our ideas, decide what they mean, and build the understanding that ultimately guides our behavior.  So, meetings are not banal. They are extremely important. And learning the art of running a meeting (whether or not you are in charge) is a well-rewarded venture.


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