Wednesday, May 25, 2005


In recent years I've found it difficult to understand Mondayitis. You know the kind of thing. It's Monday morning and everyone dutifully troops into the office. At a smoke break you find yourself with someone who laments the fact that it's Monday and is eagerly looking forward to Friday.

It's probably related to reflections on mortality but I really find that hard to understand. A trivial point but that eagerly awaited Friday is 5 days closer to the coffin than the much lamented Monday is. Some folk find that much optimism hard to stomach but hey, it's my opinion on the subject. I suppose it really comes down to the question of what you do with your time, outside work as much as inside.

Tuesday is another matter entirely :-) Tuesdays at the office are so bad I'm looking forward to more travel in order to not be in the office on Tuesdays. It's no coincidence that I'm looking forward to going back to Dallas next Monday (yep, travel on yet another public holiday), if that means I get to avoid the interminable round of meetings.

It's not that I'm opposed to meetings. I accept their necessity. But an entire day of them, each week? Pure torture. It's not made any easier when none of the management team seem to have any idea of how to hold a meeting.

We've all, I'm sure, experienced this. Meetings have outcomes and action items and so on; so they get documented. These days they seem to be documented on someones laptop connected to the projector. That someone usually uses an Excel Spreadsheet divided up into the usual columns for owner, date, item, action etc. So far so good. But I really find myself wanting to bite my arm off at the shoulder in preference to watching, yet again, the meeting grind to a halt while the notetaker searches through the menus for the command to format a particular cell. Pretty it up by all means, but not in the meeting itself. Getting the sense down somewhere is all that matters at that moment.

10 years ago, when I worked for Unisys Melbourne, we'd hold a weekly meeting with Australia Post. I was the notetaker. I'd scribble notes on a large pad of paper and, after the meeting, transcribe them into a Word document. When that was done I'd print out x number of paper copies and make sure they went through the internal mail system to the appropriate people.

After a while we became aware that, even though the transcript went out within a couple of hours of the meeting coming to an end, the sales guy didn't read em until the start of the next weeks meeting. So I had a bit of fun with him. First thing I did was to staple pages 2 to the end at all four corners, leaving only the cover page unstapled. This led to considerable hilarity (maybe you had to be there) when, at the start of the next meeting he tried to catch up.

He cottoned on and started reading them maybe a day ahead of time. So one week I prepared two sets of minutes. The standard set sent to all participants, and one set for his eyes only. Sometimes the language used at these meetings was of a robust nature. The special set used that language. So, the day before, he raced up, white faced, wanting to know if I'd lost my senses. Had I really sent those minutes out to all? I let him stew a few minutes.

It took months before he stopped worrying about the minutes. Which was, of course, the desired outcome.

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