Some Meetings are Anti-Productive

During the last week I’ve had to sit in on some significantly disturbing meetings.  Let me set the record straight, I usually attend a number of disturbing meetings each week, but these did stand out because of the complete lack of planning that went into them.  Both of these meetings were to discuss the file structure and file locations on one specific network drive.  Prior to the meeting I had no idea what the purpose of it was, but alas, I decided I should probably go because it’s in these types of innocuous meetings that you usually end up getting a mess to clean up.

I attended the first meeting to find eight people in the room with one laptop, one projector and one mouse.  Very quickly it was apparent to me that the meeting was one where we would all sit around and yell out folder names and where we thought they should be located.  Meanwhile one nervous person would run the mouse and attempt to keep up with the volley of commands from the cheap seats.  My immediate thought was “Ooooo….1 1/2 hours of endless fun!”

Here’s what I learned in that meeting.

  • More people doesn’t increase productivity (Mythical Man Month).  8 people can not run 1 mouse any better than 1 person can.
  • Timing is everything.  Reorganizing files and folders while other people are using them usually doesn’t create the results you are looking for.  MS Word’s file locking feature can lead to some unkind popup error messages claiming that files can’t be moved.  Don’t believe the messages and try again with the same results.  I once heard that this is the definition of insanity.  I think that’s appropriate for this meeting.
  • Understanding your subject is useful.  Nothing brings more confidence to a person than hearing “I don’t know what that file is.  Just delete it.”  Hang on….I don’t know what that silly DatabaseConnection.cs file is doing in our code repository.  One second while I delete it.
  • Knowing your tools is helpful.  If you are doing an exercise where you must copy files and folders, you will most likely have occasion to rename a folder.  I assume that it’s also a skill that must be in the toolkit of the person who is running the one mouse.  If it isn’t you can, very easily, spend 10 minutes having people yell out directions to the mouse operator.

You may think I write this tongue-in-cheek.  I don’t.  All of this did happen.  None of it is made up.  How am I sure.  Well, not only was I there, but the only thing that helped me to keep my sanity was taking notes on the idiocy that swirling around me.