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Meetings Make You Dumber 207

Posted by Zonk
from the not-cumulatively-thank-everything dept.
Maximum Prophet writes "Robert Heinlein once said that the committee was the only life form in the universe with three or more bellies and no brain. MSNBC reports that his statement may have some statistical truth to it. Researchers are finding that meetings are actually bad places to be creative. You're not actually 'dumber' when you're in the meeting, just more likely to lose your creative edge. Studies have now shown that, as collaborative primates, the more often a possibility is mentioned the more likely the group is to go along with it. Individuals placed by themselves were more likely to come up with imaginative alternatives to products, for example."
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Meetings Make You Dumber

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  • Nice Timing (Score:3, Funny)

    by esobofh (138133) <khg&telus,net> on Friday February 23, 2007 @01:41PM (#18125624)
    ...I just happen to be sitting midway through an all day brain storming session on service mangement.

    I can feel my brain atrophy.
  • hmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by User 956 (568564) on Friday February 23, 2007 @01:41PM (#18125630) Homepage
    Meetings Make You Dumber... Researchers are finding that meetings are actually bad places to be creative. You're not actually 'dumber' when you're in the meeting, just more likely to lose your creative edge.

    Sounds like someone wrote this writeup while in a meeting...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 23, 2007 @01:41PM (#18125632)

    The point of the article wasn't that meetings are bad. The point was that group think at meetings is bad. The example they gave was that if people go off and develop a list of ideas on their own, the combined list of ideas is longer than if people develop a list of ideas together in the group.

    There are two points that are important here. First, a group of people is likely to develop more ideas than a single person regardless of whether the group develops the ideas together or separately. Second, when it comes to choosing one idea from the list of many possible ideas, a well organized group is going to make a better choice than a single individual. In fact, the biggest problem in a poorly run group is that one person makes all the decisions so it is equivalent to a single individual make the choice.

    That was basically the point of the article: for a group to be effective it needs to be organized to allow everyone in the group to have input.

    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday February 23, 2007 @02:11PM (#18126144)
      But the Reality is that most meetings suck, are mis-managed and a waste of time. Why these things are true does not matter. They are and they aren't going to change.

      So, avoid meetings as much as possible. Use email and the telephone and finally, talk to people in their cubicles/offices. Use the one-to-one means of communicating as much as possible. People will give you more information and more SENSITIVE information in person than they will in a group.

      Once you have all of that and you've run through the email/telephone/cubicle cycle a few times, then call a short meeting to make sure that everyone sees everyone else agreeing in public to what they've agreed to.

      Meetings suck. Avoid them.
      • by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Friday February 23, 2007 @02:54PM (#18126738) Homepage
        Which meetings? For which purpose? Are you developing a new product? Are you in an IT team producing a support document for users? Are you a research scientist trying to track the work of your assistants, or talking with investors? Are you part of a legal team?

        I know there's an IT and/or software development/engineering lens through which a lot of Slashdotters view the world. But many of the assumptions don't migrate to other contexts well. A receptionist, an IT tech, an industrial designer, and a financial analyst all have very different relationships to meetings, information, and creativity.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Bilbo (7015)
          Or, my favorite variable is, how big is the meeting? Put two or three people in a room, and you will create significantly more "creative" work than those two or three on their own. Put ten or twenty people in a room, and at any particular point in time, over 75% of them will be half asleep, or thinking about other things.

          The other thing I always say is, "There should be a law against meetings longer than an hour."

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cayenne8 (626475)
        "But the Reality is that most meetings suck, are mis-managed and a waste of time. Why these things are true does not matter. They are and they aren't going to change."

        I agree. There have been 'crunch' times...where I desperately needed to be let alone, to get code/procedures written...get data out..etc.

        Yet I was constantly being dragged out for meetings...design?, progress reports...amazing I was still able to get it done, but, man, it did nothing but increase the stress level of the few people actually

      • "But the Reality is that most meetings suck, are mis-managed and a waste of time. Why these things are true does not matter. They are and they aren't going to change."

        I couldn't have said it better. The truth is that most meetings I've attended, most mandatory, are a waste of time. They are simple management tactics that make their managers think everyone is working as a team, when they usually have no topics for discussion.

        However, I disagree that a meeting of multiple people will invariably lead to a wa
        • by db32 (862117)
          Heinlein was a Navy man IIRC and I'm sure has FAR greater insight to the nature of committees and meetings. As far as being a waste of time, that is absolute crap. Now, while the majority of meetings I have been through were crap, they weren't crap because they were mandatory meetings, they were crap because they were held by people being managers and not leaders. There is a distinct difference, and to think that you can just hold a meeting and get stuff done is stupid. It takes training just like every
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by gregoryb (306233)

      The point of the article wasn't that meetings are bad.

      You must be a PHB, right?

    • by drooling-dog (189103) on Friday February 23, 2007 @02:28PM (#18126358)
      The problem is that in a meeting you are on a social and political stage, however small. It's often not just about what idea is best, but rather whom you're going to support (for reasons that may have nothing to do with the idea being discussed) and how you want the group to perceive you. I know that on more than one occasion I've kept my doubts about a proposal to myself because I didn't want to be perceived as, well, a doubter (which really I am)...
    • Good point, but I find brainstorming at a meeting to be far more effective when all peers are at the same level of understanding. In other words, having a meeting with just engineers or just directors is better than a mix of those groups, simply because the two groups don't collide on objectives (i.e. problems/solutions vs time-to-ship). I mean if you're at a meeting where the boss says, I want this done by next month or you're fired really restricts your options of creativity. Then it's simply 'fuck it,
  • by Timesprout (579035) on Friday February 23, 2007 @01:42PM (#18125656)
    Their function is to seek consenus, bring us all up to speed, get everyone reading from the same page, allocate division of labour etc.
    • by rbanzai (596355) on Friday February 23, 2007 @01:49PM (#18125790)
      Perhaps SOME meetings are not meant to be creative, and are just for information sharing but many meetings ARE meant to be creative. Many meetings are intended for problem-solving, for example, and creativity can be quite useful so you don't want to stifle it.

      I work at an ad agency where by definition we have Creative Meetings where creative concepts are going to be brainstormed.

      Meetings are not all simply to seek consensus, etc...
    • Synergize your intellectual capital in a heads-up actionable game plan by leveraging mission critical low-hanging fruit that's just outside the box. It's a win-win-win for everybody!
    • by bgfay (5362) on Friday February 23, 2007 @02:17PM (#18126200) Homepage

      Their function is to seek consenus, bring us all up to speed, get everyone reading from the same page, allocate division of labour etc.
      But of course, the first reason for having any meeting is to make the person calling the meeting feel or seem important.

      At least, that's how it works in my school system.
    • by CrazyTalk (662055)
      Some are. I was in a meeting recently that was basically a brainstorming session on how to improve the performance of an application. We had developers, DBAs, project managers, etc. present. If someone had an idea ("lets add an index to the database") the DBA was there to provide input. If a developer had an idea ("Lets eliminate that piece of the code, it doesnt do anything anyway") we had business people present to give their yay or nay. This way, we were able to come up with a list of viable possib
      • "lets add an index to the database"
        "Lets eliminate that piece of the code, it doesnt do anything anyway"

        It sounds like you got a bunch of people in the room to discuss the stuff they should have done anyway.
        • by CrazyTalk (662055)
          Well, I "annonymized" it so as to not reveal the real issues - those weren't the real suggestions.
    • I think meetings can be creative from a brainstorming perspective. For any problem, I like to initially have a meeting with the group in front of the whiteboard in order to just throw ideas out. That way everyone's initial views and ideas on how to solve the problem are shared with everyone, and then people can go off on their own to come up with their own ideas, perhaps augmenting them with ideas other people came up with that they wouldn't have done without the meting.
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday February 23, 2007 @01:42PM (#18125660) Homepage Journal
    is that in private corporations there is no way to give a eral opionon and not be fired if it isn't what the boss had envisioned.
    The boss want's hoola-hoops with razors on the inside? then you better be a team player and commit 125% to that goal.

    You think it's dangerous? not a team player, get out
    You think there isn't a market? not a team player, get out
    you mention that 100% is pretty much all someone can give without physically harming them selves? not a team player, get out
    Forgot to clean the fridge?not a team player, get out

    • by hotdiggitydawg (881316) on Friday February 23, 2007 @01:56PM (#18125904)
      If you're working in an environment like that, why wouldn't you want to get out anyway?

      Every place I've worked (so far), I have in fact been rewarded for coming up with better alternatives to the boss's suggestions, and I've never once been punished for disagreement. Thing is, you have to earn their respect before you can do that...
      • Every place I've worked (so far), I have in fact been rewarded for coming up with better alternatives to the boss's suggestions, and I've never once been punished for disagreement. Thing is, you have to earn their respect before you can do that...

        Yup. I won't work for a boss who wants to hear "Yes-man" echoing of his own opinions, mainly because I won't do it and we'll end up driving each other crazy. That said, once a decision has been made it's my job to help make it work even if I didn't think it was

    • by ivan256 (17499) on Friday February 23, 2007 @02:02PM (#18125994)
      So you get out and get another job.

      Believe it or not, there are workplaces where it is safe to voice opposition as long as you do what you're told once the decision is made. Your boss shouldn't mind that you tell him it's a bad idea to port your product to the latest trendy language for no good reason, but once he decides that's what the company is doing, you better deliver, 'cause that's what you're being paid for. It's when you refuse to drop it once a decision has been made that you should have to worry about losing your job.

      In my experience, most workplaces are like this, and there is always some whiner that doesn't know when to drop it and get to work who thinks that their opinion (rather than their behavior or performance) is what got them in trouble.
      • So you get out and get another job.

        Oh! I never realized it was that easy! Amazing! And I bet if your current boss learns you're looking for another job, like when a recruiter calls you in the middle of the day, he'll be completely understanding about your views.

        • by ivan256 (17499)
          Let me guess. You read that line and responded, instead of reading the whole comment.

          Good job!
        • by khallow (566160)

          Oh! I never realized it was that easy! Amazing! And I bet if your current boss learns you're looking for another job, like when a recruiter calls you in the middle of the day, he'll be completely understanding about your views.

          Well, hopping to a new job isn't without some risk. But if you're to the point of burning bridges like this, then it doesn't matter what your boss thinks.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by abb3w (696381)

        Believe it or not, there are workplaces where it is safe to voice opposition as long as you do what you're told once the decision is made.

        The difficulty lies in distinguishing such places from those where, if you say "this won't work because of reasons A, B, and C" before the decision is officially final and your prediction proves right, you're accused of causing the failure because you weren't "a team player behind the project 125 percent" yada yada yada....

        Such places are worth leaving as soon as y

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      You just have to respond appropriately to those concerns in a constructive manner.

      Think its dangerous? Suggest marketing it to the 18-24 demographic and an "extreme" advertising comparing while continuing to evaluate the potential liability throughout focus group tests.

      Think there isn't a market? Suggest a test marketing campaign " to see which market it would best be leveraged in" Then with firm data about its failure, suggest gradual improvements until the device is no longer a hoola hoop and is now a c
    • by operagost (62405)
      I think your terrible spelling, grammar, and attitude is probably why you're not succeeding. By the way, publically held corporations sometimes "work" the same way.
  • let me just say, "Well, duh!"
    • by CDarklock (869868)
      I'm always fascinated by the ability of studies to say things that anyone who has been paying attention already knows.

      Whenever I try to get more than three people to work on a development team for over a week, they split into two teams. One team tries to do everything. The other team tries to do "this half" while they expect the first team to do "that half". In the end, the first team doesn't produce quality work because the workload was too high, and the second doesn't produce quality work because "this ha
  • by ShrapnelFace (1001368) <shrever@neuraldisruption.com> on Friday February 23, 2007 @01:44PM (#18125692)
    It's called "Group Think" and it was a major factor of evidence in the destruction of the Space Shuttle Columbia. We've already read this, been over this, and done this. Is this a presentation of a new idea, or an idea restated in a new light?

    Either way, it's always a good idea to realize that in most cases, people are in a situation to satisfy themselves first, then those who are most related to that self next.

    I find that in meetings I lead, I spend more time chairing the discussion than growing the actual discussion from the seeds of creation. Group think tends to be the by-product of that one person in your meeting who wont let go of their own idea and continues to bludgeon the group into submission.

    • by Hijacked Public (999535) * on Friday February 23, 2007 @02:25PM (#18126314)
      I don't know what 'major factor of evidence' means in your context but I think Microsoft Powerpoint should shoulder more blame for the Columbia disaster than groupthink. Maybe I have been reading too much Edward Tufte though.

      You may want to consider that your definition of groupthink is overbroad. Part of how a business motivates its employees is to convince them to align their personal goals with those of the company. Done properly, satisfying oneself in a business setting means furthering the goals of the company.

      Rather than say that gets lost due to groupthink I would say that it gets lost amid all the ass covering and finger pointing that often goes on. In Columbia's case, Lockheed Martin's main goal during the investigation was not to uncover the actual cause but defend against any possibility that they might have been at fault. They offer up test results of their insulation hitting a part of the shuttle that the actual insulation didn't hit, then claim that their insulation could not possibly have caused enough damage to be a problem on reentry. Maybe groupthink led people to believe them, I don't know.

      So many companies are managed for the short term that this kind of thing is nearly impossible to prevent. The shuttle blows up, someone looks at a spreadsheet that shows the shuttle business is only 3% of revenue, so whatever future business LHM might have with NASA is sacrificed for the goal of protecting the company.
  • by Shadow Wrought (586631) * <shadow,wrought&gmail,com> on Friday February 23, 2007 @01:46PM (#18125726) Homepage Journal
    Just one loong meeting...
  • by rbanzai (596355) on Friday February 23, 2007 @01:46PM (#18125736)
    Meetings by themselves don't have problems. It's meetings that are flawed.

    1. Meetings that should never have been held. They serve no real purpose.
    2. Meetings with no structure, and no one to lead them
    3. Meetings where there is an agenda but no one follows it and no one guides it
    4. Meetings that run overtime due to mismanagement and no one is willing to conclude it.
    5. Meetings that start late because there is no respect for the time of the attendees.

    These are just some of the things that make me dread meetings. Over the last 6 years out of the many meetings I've been obliged to attend maybe five were really useful.
    • "We need a meeting to decide when the next meeting is going to take place"

      Actual quote from a useless manager I once had.
    • by radtea (464814)
      Meetings by themselves don't have problems. It's meetings that are flawed.

      This is like telling a drowning person that water is essential to life.

      It's true, but it's neither relevant nor interesting to the situation they are in. Any white-collar worker in a modern corporate environment is drowning in bad meetings.

      One useful thing to do is to simply not attend any meeting that does not have an agenda. Simply tell the organizer that you aren't sure if you should be on the attendees list, and you'd like to se
  • There are few things more frustrating to me than so-called "brainstorming sessions". "Let's get a bunch of smart, creative people together and bounce ideas off each other." It never works. Never.

    Anytime you have more than two people at a time trying to go through this process, you invariably get tied up in social motivations that are detrimental to the outcome. People are afraid to offend. People try to impress. People are afraid of sounding stupid.

    The best and most useful creative ideas always come from in
    • by spun (1352)
      It is possible to have good brainstorming sessions. You need to have two distinct phases, the brainstorming part, and the editing part. No editorializing during the brainstorming part. No saying that an idea is good or bad, just write those suckers down. Saying it's good or bad tends to engage people's internal censors as they try to come up with things that fit what they perceive the group as wanting/not wanting. That kills creativity, so don't do it. When people see that any idea, no matter how good or ho
      • by L. VeGas (580015)
        I hear what you're saying, and it sounds great in theory. I've attended a lot of meetings that were organized around exactly what you just stated. Without exception, they have all been a colossal waste of time. Eventually, some have eventually arrived at something useful, but invariably, they could have been handled more efficiently by other means. Why not have people submit their ideas ahead of time to someone that could organize and collate them?

        Your mileage may vary.
      • by Brickwall (985910)
        Only after a good long session of censor-free brainstorming should you switch modes and start judging what you came up with.

        Edward de Bono, Six Thinking Hats

    • by geekoid (135745)
      "There are few things more frustrating to me than so-called "brainstorming sessions". "Let's get a bunch of smart, creative people together and bounce ideas off each other." It never works. Never."

      I disagree, I ahve ran many brainstorming sessions that went very well.
      OTOH, I am good at making people know what they are, and not allowing any fallout.

      Brainstorming is not a committee, and if the session you have been in are like a committee, then it wasn't brainstorming...it was a committee. People writing thin
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Per Abrahamsen (1397)
      Works for me.

      > People are afraid to offend. People try to impress. People are afraid of sounding stupid.

      The participants needs to trust and respect each other first.
  • Say.... (Score:3, Funny)

    by ReidMaynard (161608) on Friday February 23, 2007 @01:50PM (#18125796) Homepage
    Guys --

    I just scanned this great article on MSNBC..Let's have the whole team meet at 4:30, I've got some ideas...

    --The Boss
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "the more often a possibility is mentioned the more likely the group is to go along with it."

    Iraq...9-11...Iraq...9-11...9-11...Iraq...Iraq...9 -11...
  • While I certainly agree with the general conclusions drawn in the article about large groups or meetings in the traditional sense, I find that a single person working alone can sometimes also be fairly unable to come up with new ideas due to working from only a single perspective. Unless of course they meant have these people working alone for the brainstorming, and then have them come together and pick the best ideas and implementations from the bunch.

    I think there may be a certain critical mass where e
    • Of course I think the likelihood of getting the right sorts of people together with the right amount of self-awareness and ego to be able to admit when they don't have the best idea, is probably nothing short of a minor miracle for a company.

      It helps to be flat out busy because then you get less duplication and people tend to stick to what they have to work on. We are pretty lucky in that respect where I work. I find that if you have four people in a meeting, each with a different job to do, then you can c

  • Meetings are almost never for the purpose of new ideas.

    When employees know which way the boss is leaning, how many feel safe calling him a dope?

    I remember when it actually WAS that way at Microsoft, because everyone was respected, and you could tell your manager that his idea sucked, so long as you had a better one and could PROVE it verbally and demonstrate it in code.

    These days, opposition to the bosses' idea is a fast track to unemployment.

    Companies that are succeeding today hire well, then turn t

  • by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Friday February 23, 2007 @01:59PM (#18125932)
    Let me recommed the book, "How to Run a Successful Meeting in Half the Time" http://www.amazon.com/How-Successful-Meeting-Half- Time/dp/0671726013/sr=8-7/qid=1172256632/ref=sr_1_ 7/102-8911026-2154546?ie=UTF8&s=books [amazon.com], It's a quick read, and does have good advice.

    The author gives the an example of a good meeting, the opening of the old TV show, "LA Law", where the lead attorney came in, laid his pocket watch on the table, then asked everyone to bring him up to speed with what they were doing. The pocketwatch was a device to let the audience know that he valued his time. Always, the meeting was over by the first commercial break. If real life corporate meetings could be more like this, I think we'd get a lot more done.
    • A former boss had a similar method. He took all the chairs and tables out of the room.

      Staff meetings went from 2+ hours to about 20 minutes.
  • I have a fakey "inspirational" poster in my cubicle with this expression quoted at the bottom. A wise investment of $13 that is now empirically proven to be true.
    • by abb3w (696381)

      ObPlug: Despair, Inc [despair.com]. I don't work for 'em, I just buy their toys.

      The one for Burnout [despair.com] is popular with the local BOFH crowd; the one for Arrogance [despair.com] seems to amuse most of the local managers.

  • by ms1234 (211056)
    Thats why I bring my laptop with me and do work, mostly ignoring the discussion, nod a few times, say "Mmm-huh" and then 10 minutes before the end actually listen to the conclusion and ask who the hell came up with a plan like this.
  • by eno2001 (527078) on Friday February 23, 2007 @02:02PM (#18125980) Homepage Journal
    And for our next trick, we'll prove that water is wet.

    From what I've seen, the best projects/products in terms of actual value and progress (not popularity) tend to be the ones entirely controlled by one person. The Linux kernel is an excellent example. It outshines the capabilities of the Windows kernel in so many ways it's not even funny. And it's all under the watchful eye of the benevolent dictator Linus Torvalds. It could even be said that early Apple computers under Steve Jobs' guidance was progressive for similar reasons. All of the "asshole" myths from the 70s and 80s about him indicate that he was still highly involved in controlling the direction of Apple products and pretty much defined what Apple was before he was ousted. Now, if you want the APPEARANCE of progress and value, then you can use committees, consultants and most specifically nice shiny PR to make people THINK you're "the shit". But in reality, you aren't. Sadly the reality based world is not a place people want to live these days.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by guruevi (827432)
      I tend to disagree. The Linux kernel and in a lesser degree Apple, but a great (commercial) example is Google all share the following:

      They are not run by a dictator. A dictator tends to stifle progress because his idea is law and that's what's going to happen. I had a manager like that once, he was the CEO and everything he said was a good idea. He also had no clue about anything going on outside his office (kinda like the pointy-haired boss in Dilbert), actually that whole company runs like the Dilbert car
  • by Mullen (14656)
    I held a meeting on this and we did not understand.
  • by popo (107611) on Friday February 23, 2007 @02:05PM (#18126050) Homepage
    After much discussion we have decided to comment on this absurd proposition that a group cannot write anything creative. Towards responding to this accusation, we propose a set of action items which will form a roadmap for our final response which will be distributed and posted to Slashdot by next Thursday afternoon.

    The first action item will be to define what "creativity" actually is. This issue will be discussed at a CD meeting (Creativity Definition Meeting) tentatively scheduled for Monday at 9:45 am. Donuts and coffee will be served.

    The results of the CD meeting will be compiled into a compelling Powerpoint presentation and displayed at our weekly Status Meeting on Wednesday at 4:30pm. Please note, we'll all be going out for drinks promptly following the meeting.

    Thursday will consist of a full day of intensive focus groups, follow up discussions, and satellite meetings which will put a fine point on the issue of our supposed inability to generate new and compelling ideas. That full day of meetings will be compiled in a pink sheet for distribution to top management prior to our official Slashdot response.

    Thank you.


  • Effective leaders have known this at least since the Bronze Age.

    You do all the creative work, all the organizing,
    all the planning and "getting one's ducks in a line"
    _before_ the meeting. You talk to all the important
    participants, sound them out, and introduce your ideas,
    _before_ the meeting.

    Then you hold the meeting to review and ratify.

    For a picture of an effective leader playing this game
    at the grandmaster level, see the second volume of
    Robert Caro's biography of Lyndon B. Johnson,
    _Master_of_the_Senate_.
  • by drDugan (219551) * on Friday February 23, 2007 @02:23PM (#18126270) Homepage
    To those people with a basic understanding of human personality, this conclusion is obvious. The basic point here is that introverts are not able to function at their highest ability in real-time, face-to-face groups. Duh. . .

    It is interesting to note that in some other cultures, (like France, for example) introversion is respected and placed on an equal footing with extroversion. In the US, and in prevalent US-dominated world culture, extroversion is pushed almost exclusively as the norm. Most introverts are forced into physical spaces (cubicles) and interactions (meeting rooms) with lots of other people around. This leaves an introvert drained and unable to function at their highest ability. Also, the general expectation for most interactions is for real-time discussion (face to face or by phone) where extroverts have a distinct advantage solely because if their ability to respond faster verbally. Email is a notable exception to this in generally accepted practice, where the introverts have a distinct upper hand.

    Note: when I use the words introvert and extrovert here, I am not talking about the colloquial social definitions, nor the psychological disorder (maladaptive, overt) introversion, but rather the psychological typing used by MBTI, Keirsey, and other systems.
  • "Meetings: No one person is as stupid as all of us."

    Well, it's a close approximation to the poster. Alternatively:

    Neither I nor U are in Teamwork.
  • by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Friday February 23, 2007 @02:26PM (#18126328) Homepage
    I write some of my best code during long, dull meetings.

    I even seem very active to the other participants, constantly taking notes on my laptop (as far as they know).
    • by geekoid (135745)
      You are usless. Anyone can write code(no really!) only very skilled people can get a meeting done well.

      The fact that some meeting are ran poorley by inept people and attended by people who have no interest in anything outside their cube(like you) doesn't mean meetings are bad, it just means you work with people who have no idea how to manage, and/or don't care what happens within the company.

      • You are a moron. I never said meetings were useless, quite the opposite, I applauded them for increasing my productivity. Your total lack of reading capability combined with your failure to grasp even the simplest logic train of logic makes you a liability to any organization where you participate. In fact, time wasters like you are the main the reason meetings have a bad reputation.

  • so let me get this straight... you take a bunch of people and put them in a box (a meeting room) and have some expectation they will think "outside the box"? Um?

    being around other people introduces an enormous set of implicit norms and expectations. most people follow all these norms completely unconsciously.
  • The same idea repeated thousands of times by thousands of search results. Billions of people grouped together. A handful of sources providing all the original information. Sounds like a description of the internet. Did humans get less creative when they created the internet?
    • by hesiod (111176)
      > Did humans get less creative when they created the internet?

      Interesting point of view, but I would posit it is the opposite. You see, even though a billion people may participate in a thing, the individual, sitting behind a computer, is working alone (usually). This can be evidenced by the very common, and incorrect, view that the Internet is "anonymous." If everyone on the Internet thought about others on the Internet as if they were in the same room staring at them, flame wars would be much less p
  • I don't have access to the study, but at least FTA is seems like what they did is ask people to come up with a list of soft drink brands after exposing them to one brand. They came up with more alternatives individually than when paired with two others (though it's not clear whether each individual came up with fewer alternatives when in a group, which would be a trivial result, or whether the group came up with fewer alternatives than each of the separate individuals, which would be more interesting). It s
  • by Sj0 (472011) on Friday February 23, 2007 @02:35PM (#18126472) Homepage Journal
    The primary purpose of meetings is to achieve consensus or to efficiently communicate information to the people who need it, not to be creative. The rest of your time on the job is the time to think of ways to effectively solve a problem. A meeting is for taking those ideas and throwing them out there, and seeing whose idea sticks.

    Honestly, if a group of supposedly well-educated people couldn't think of a solution to a problem on their own, multiplying their inability won't magically make 0+0+0=1
    • A meeting is for taking those ideas and throwing them out there, and seeing whose idea sticks.

      This reminds me of throwing a certain substance against the wall and seeing what sticks. It's as good a description of the meetings I've attended as anything.
  • An old joke, but appropriate here:

    How do you determine the IQ of a committee?

    Take the average IQ in the room and divide it by the number of people in the committee.
  • People learn to act creative. Some of us do manage to learn how to do it, usually alone. It's hard to learn to be creative in a competitive environment. When I was in public school in the 1970s-80s, the curriculum included special training for the "smart kids" in brainstorming. Practicing builds those skills. Not just being creative oneself, but much more of the activity in the group is helping others create ideas without stepping on them. Offering an idea is risky, because it's often wrong, which can discr
  • What works for me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cyberfunkr (591238) on Friday February 23, 2007 @05:16PM (#18128732)
    Meetings are going to happen. It's really tough to avoid them so you might as well have a plan for when they occur.

    When I am in charge of making a meeting happen I try to use this little trick: Everyone has X amount of time before the meeting, usually in days. At that meeting be ready with 3 solutions to the problem, and rebuttal arguments for why #1 and (hopefully) #2 were mentally scrapped by the time you figured out option #3.

    Now the meeting rolls around and I have say 5 people all ready to go with up to 15 different answers, but before we've even started most of those have been rejected.

    We'll still cover all the solutions so we can weed out duplicates, shoot down people's third choice that someone else already thought of and realized a shop stopper ("...And that's why this idea will work." "Well, it would work, but where are we going to get tights in our size at this time of night?"), and correct any assumptions for people's self-realized blockers. ("At first I thought we could do this, but we need Marketing's help and they're buried." "Actually, Marketing just finished our last major project so we have a few days breathing room to help out.")

    This keeps the "group think" out of the process until later in the process when the playing field has already narrowed down to 2-3 solid ideas.
  • I've found that I'm more creative in meetings for two reasons:

    1) I bring my notebook and completely phase out the meeting. The best new ideas come to me that way

    2) If you're with a small group of creative people (2-3 max) who are on the same wavelength with you, you might get some synergy. We called this "Crack Smoking" at my old job. (As in: hey, take a whiff of the pipe and consider THIS idea...).

    The answer may be meeting lunches (where you go out and casually discuss stuff).

    [as opposed to lunch meetin

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