Sunday, April 29, 2012
For me, meetings are one of the burdens of the academic life. At the Chronicle of Higher Education online, Ms. Mentor responds to this inquiry:
Question: My department chair, "Zippy," is addicted to meetings. We need a new computer gizmo? Let's have a meeting. We've got a sadistic heating system in our building? Let's have a meeting. We have to do something about bathroom graffiti, accreditation, plagiarism, sexual harassment, sick leave, cyberbullying, layoffs, chalk, or new shelves and curtains for the lounge? Let's have a separate meeting for each one!
Let's meet, meet, meet!
Zippy lives alone and doesn't have a life, but we do. How can we get him to leave us alone?
In her response, Mrs. Mentor offers gripping, but amusing descriptions of interminable meetings that eat up time and patience. She concludes:
A good meeting is for decision-making. It's not for announcements or incessant frothing and ventilating. Ideally everyone leaves feeling that something's been accomplished. People know what they need to do to make this a better department and a better world. The best meetings are short and pointed, like a good stick.
Worth reading, but I wonder if there is cause for optimism. When I chair committees, I try to conduct as much business as possible by email.