Minimal Meetings

This editorial was originally published on April 24, 2010. It is being re-run as Steve is out of town at the PASS Summit.

I read something the other day that struck me. It’s obvious, but I hadn’t really thought about it in that way before. If you invite nine people to a one hour meeting, then is isn’t a one hour meeting. It’s a ten hour  meeting to the company with all the lost productivity.

That’s a lot of time lost.

Especially if you are meeting with developers or DBAs. They often have code to write, or problems to think about, and embedding them in a meeting for an hour, especially multiple people, can do more damage to your project than a lot of bad code. No wonder there isn’t enough time to do testing?

There’s no good solution, especially since meetings can be productive ways to ensure information is shared in a group. They can help reset everyone to the same view of a project or situation. But you should also look to minimize their impact.

Don’t invite people to meetings if they can read about a decision later, or if they are just getting a status update. A meeting ought to be for people whose job is affected. They need to give input on a decision, or make the decision. Everyone else is just task switching away from their job and losing time that could be put to better use.

It’s tempting to invite all stakeholders, and anyone who might be needed “just in case.” Resist that temptation and let people spend more time actually building software.

Steve Jones

About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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