Meetings get a bad rap. When I ask participants in my management and supervisor seminars if they like meetings – no one raises a hand. There are pages in many of the workbooks I teach from that urge managers and leaders to have fewer meetings. There are all sorts of books on how to do business with fewer – or even NO – meetings.
So I was surprised to read that the poster child for anti-social corporate behavior actually favored meetings. From Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs:
Despite being a denizen of the digital world, or maybe because he knew all too well its isolating potential, Jobs was a strong believer in face-to-ace meetings. “There’s a temptation in out networked age to think that ideas can be developed by email and iChat,” he said. “That’s crazy. Creativity come from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say ‘Wow’ and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.”
Jobs had a new building at Pixar Studios designed to facilitate MORE meetings between people.
It seems to me that human beings need other human beings. We want to hear other people’s opinions and want them to hear ours. The problem with meetings is that we forget to set up effective agendas. The agendas are either set up by big picture visionaries, with no regard for the communication styles of more detail-relational focused team members – OR – the detail people put together agendas that spell death to the “get it done now” crowd.
The best meetings I’ve attended are those that consider the styles of everyone involved. Detail and strategy people have a chance to share data and ask questions, vision people get a chance to paint big pictures and action people get to leave with bullet points of accomplishments.
There’s a lot about the way Steve Job conducted himself that most of us should try to avoid, but with regard to his penchant for getting face-to-face he was right on the money.