Picture of Darren P Meyer

Darren P Meyer

an information security researcher, technology hobbyist, maker, parent, and rabid moderate. I work at Veracode, but I don't speak for them here.

Effective meetings: focus on purpose

I’m all for eliminating meetings… but focusing overmuch on eliminating meetings is just as harmful as the mindless meeting culture. Meetings have their uses. I contend that if we focus on having purposeful, effective meetings, the number and frequency of meetings will automatically be reduced. There are really only three kinds of meetings, because there are only three reasons to have a meeting:

  • Conveying information
  • Making decisions
  • Solving problems through collaboration

If you’re clear on what the purpose of your meeting is, and there isn’t a better way to accomplish that goal, then have that meeting. The very exercise will result in fewer, better meetings.

Meetings that convey information

Status meetings are by far the most common meeting in this class. Stop that. The only useful status meeting is a Standup, and then only if it’s run properly. The vast majority of status is much more effectively communicated through text or images that can be explored and referenced at people’s own pace. Status meetings typically occur when people are bad at contributing to a status document or database of some kind—but using a meeting for accountability is harmful in the extreme. There are other management tools available to hold people accountable for communicating status.

Announcements are valid things to hold meetings for, but only if it’s important that the vast majority of affected parties receive the information at the same time, or if a Q&A session will be profitable. For example, announcing ...

I don’t care what you believe

I want to make one thing perfectly, crystalline clear: I don’t care what you believe.

If you want to believe that the entire universe was created 500 years ago when a magical purple manatee shat it out while swimming through the Æther, fantastic. You go ahead. I hope it brings you much happiness.

Here’s what I actually care about:

  • You accept that your individual successes and failures are strongly related to the communities in which you live, work, and play
  • You take tangible action to help those in need
  • You use whatever privilege you have (earned or unearned) to help those less fortunate than yourself
  • You make an effort to adopt and follow a rational code of ethics
  • You respect and value a diversity of being, ideas, backgrounds, and cultures

If your love for the magical purple manatee motivates you to do the above, yay for you. I’m glad you found a way of processing the world that helps make you a good person. But the moment your love for the magical purple manatee becomes more important than being a good person who does good things, you fail humanity.

So, again: I don’t care what you believe, but dammit, I care what you do with it.

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