Humorist Dave Barry says this about meetings: "If you had to identify, in one word, the reason the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be meetings."
My idea of hell is to be forced to spend eternity in a meeting. I'll do anything to avoid meetings. In fact, I doubt there are too many of us who love meetings. A former client says I should have myself checked out for ADD/ADHD since my daughter struggles with the condition and people who have ADD/ADHD have particular problems sitting in meetings. However, I think the greatest issue for me and a lot of fellow entrepreneurs is that we are hard driving, impatient, autonomous people.
Entrepreneurs are courageous. They are calculated risk-takers with the potential to have their heads handed to them every day. To even attempt the audacious act of entrepreneurship presupposes a strong will, a healthy ego, and the instincts of a jungle carnivore. These characteristics are, perhaps, not the ideal for mediating useful meetings.
I was reminded of this when I recently attended a seminar on Open Book Management (OBM). OBM is a term invented by John Case in the early '90s. But the concept's chief evangelist is Jack Stack, who has written and spoken extensively on the concept. To oversimplify, OBM's core assumption is that most firms perform best when it's employees see themselves as partners rather than hired hands. All company financials are shared by employees. Employers are challenged to improve profitability, and all share in new company efficiency and prosperity. Ideally. The concept is not very different from Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), except there remains a single boss and owner.
I was fascinated by the concept of Open Book Management in theory since I always tried to run my former outsourced executive sales firm, Corporate Rain International, collegially---as a community of high-level peers. (I certainly tried to never hire anyone who wasn't better than me.) That said, OMB is a bridge too far for me at present for several compelling reasons. But the one reason that strikes utter terror into my small businessman's soul is the potentially endless meetings educating and sharing and discussing management decisions and finances. This potentiality alone is enough to send me fleeing the seductions of OMB.
Well, I have never resolved the meeting conundrum for myself, but American economist and social philosopher Thomas Sowell says the following: "People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything....The least productive people are usually the one's who are most in favor of holding meetings." I agree.