Steven Johnson On Effective Meetings

Interesting analysis from Steven Johnson about the type of meetings that are effective vs. in-effective:

Well, that brings me to something in the book that bummed me out. You cite a study that observed science labs and found the breakthroughs happened more often during staff meetings than at the microscope. I hate meetings.

It’s funny that you say that, because I hate meetings too. I love those stretches where I’ve just been a writer — when I haven’t been doing Internet start-ups — where I pretty much eliminate meetings from my life. But there are different kinds of meetings. What the research found was that it was the weekly status update meeting that was so generative. It was when everybody would get together and tell stories about what they were working on and the problems they were having in their particular work. That’s very different from the meeting where you’re getting together to discuss the annual budget. When it’s a sharing and improvisational meeting, where you’re riffing off other people’s ideas, that actually can be productive.

But a number of studies have found that meetings are a staggering waste of people’s time when they’re not done well. So you can keep your dislike of meetings.

Link: Interview with Steven Johnson

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