The Wary Engineer’s Notebook – Part 2

This is second installment of “The Wary Engineer’s Notebook”. This one deals with one of my favorite things: Meetings.

Just remember that this is all intended to be humorous in a satirical, tongue-in-cheek way, so please don’t get spun up thinking I’m trying to insult you or your dress code. I wouldn’t dream of it. Honest.

If you’re not sure what this is all about then please go back and read Part 1 first.

Meetings

It has been theorized that meetings arose way back in time before the advent of the written word, and in a time when one would occasionally need to club one of the other tribe members to get their attention. Nowadays we have word processors, PDF documents and instant access to information, but we still haven’t evolved the ability to pay attention.

Here is the “Secret Code” often used to describe meetings and their outcome. Once you know this code you’ll be able to better interpret what your co-workers are talking about when they come out of a meeting. You may also be in a better position to decide if the time is right for you to make a career change.

Meeting Description What It Really Means
Unproductive Meeting I got verbally beaten up and completely humiliated over things that weren’t my fault. I might not have a job for too much longer.
Useful Meeting I got verbally abused and humiliated, but at least I still have a job. I probably also got some action items to deal with.
Good Meeting I managed to escape without any serious injuries. My wounds will heal after a nice long coffee break. I may have gotten a few trivial action items.
Productive Meeting I didn’t get abused, and everyone got action items except me. I might even have learned something.
Great Meeting My name never came up once, I wasn’t assigned any action items, and I even got caught up on my email during the meeting and no one noticed.
Excellent Meeting The project is circling the drain but I was able to deflect any blame away from myself and avoid getting into a shouting match with the project lead, and all without getting any action items to deal with. The project lead probably feels that it was an unproductive meeting.

Meetings are a great way to socialize, kill some time, and humiliate your co-workers (if you’re into that sort of thing), but otherwise they generally tend to be useless, particularly when there are chairs to sit in. Yet people still insist on holding them and attending them.

If you have to have a meeting do it standing up in front of a whiteboard. At least that way you’ll know that people are paying attention and not nodding off (the sound of their body hitting the floor is a good clue that they did in fact drop out in the middle of the meeting).

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