Thoughts on meetings

The COVID experience has really caused me to appreciate the value of the face to face experience. However, I feel at many meetings (could be formal or just having a meal with someone) we still don’t really maximize the value of being in-person with someone. In a meeting, everyone should be engaged during the entire meeting. This means things need to keep moving. The focus needs to be on interpersonal interaction, solving hard problems, brainstorming, making decisions, etc – things that engage people. If one person does most of the taking, it is not a meeting, it is a presentation. If most people are looking at their computers or phones most of the time, this could mean several things:

  1. we are doing work during the meeting
  2. attendees are bored and are not engaged
  3. we have not prepared for the meeting

Other thoughts on meetings:

Gitlab’s approach is rather profound:

And then after the meeting you have to look at the takeaways in the Google Doc, which is just a temporal home, and you have to say “Alright, if anything in this meeting matters to more than just me, I have to go find the right place(s) in the handbook and make a merge request to actually add this to the handbook”, because the handbook is the ultimate single source of truth, where all of the company would go to to find the latest and greatest information on whatever the topic is. So what I’m saying is that’s a lot of work in a meeting…

Documentation should be the center of real work. If decisions and thinking are not captured for easy access by others, it is of limited use and will likely soon be lost. It is also important that thoughts be captured in a format that can be easily modified and expanded on in the future. This is the power of content stored in Git with pull requests – the thinking does not stop at the end of the meeting, but rather the meeting can be the start of something that continues on in one continuous flow of creative thought as people collaborate, open pull requests, discuss them with comments, meet again to brainstorm and solve hard problems, etc. A meeting is then not a disruptive speed bump in your schedule, but rather a well synchronized input into the flow of creative work, which all revolves around fluid documentation and never stops. Meetings are not for status reports, boring monologues, power posturing, etc, but rather to maximize the creative output of a group of people working together in real time.