Lately I've been reading a nice little book, The Effective Executive in Action: A Journal for Getting the Right Things Done (Journal) (Peter F. Drucker and Joseph A. Maciariello, Collins, 2006, 200 pages). I'm having fun with it and will write more about it here in a few days/weeks.
In the meantime, I've found something to disagree with in Drucker's book. That's unusual. Generally, Drucker's writings hit the mark for me. I don't know that I've ever before disagreed this strongly with something he wrote.
Here's the quote that got me:
"Meetings are by definition a concession to deficient organizations."
I just don't think that's right.
True, customers don't pay for us to have meetings. Meetings are not the end product of most organizations. But well run meetings can enhance our ability to provide unique value to our customers.
Drucker argues that you either meet or work - and that the two are mutually exclusive - and that the ideal organization would need no meetings.
I just can't imagine any real organization that would not need meetings. Okay, an artist working by himself might be able to produce paintings alone, but he won't sell them without meeting folks. (Okay, perhaps he will on eBay, come to think of it.) Or perhaps the Borg - the Star Trek alien race that shared one mind among millions of beings - needed no meetings to effectively attack humans.
Fortunately, we aren't the Borg. We don't all share one mind. Each of us is a unique mind. An organization is a collection and collaboration of many unique minds, each one necessary (theoretically at least) to produce value for the customer. Meetings - formal and informal - are one of the most effective ways for those minds to come together and produce a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
Meetings, for many organizations, really are the way work gets done - the way customer value is created.
I agree with Drucker that every meeting needs a purpose that is clearly tied to providing customer value. I agree with Drucker that meetings should only include those who can contribute to the desired outcome. I agree that meetings must be well planned and prepared and well executed.
I just don't agree that meetings are inherently bad, or a symptom of "malorganization."
What do you think?