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Enough, I’m going to recommend a book. It’s called Rework and you’ll never have heard of the authors. Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. Who? They run a company called 37Signals (www.37signals.com) which offers web based applications to help you run your business. Two or three people I know use their CRM application, Highrise. Anyway, this isn’t an ad for their products. But it might be an ad for their book. (Amazon – £5.99).
Rework is short. And it’s readable. Like you, I’ve got a welter of business books in my office. By my bed. A couple in the car. What proportion have I abandoned at page 40 because they’re simply unreadable? At least a third, probably more.
Enough waffle. On to the book. I don’t agree with it all – but it’s different. And with business changing at an ever increasing pace, different is good. Anyone ever been in a meeting? Thought so. Here’s what Jason and David have to say about them:
• Meetings are Toxic
• They’re usually about words and abstract concepts, not real things
• They require thorough preparation that most people don’t have time for
• They often include one moron who inevitably gets his turn to waste everyone’s time
• And they procreate. One meeting leads to another…
You have ten people in a one hour meeting. So in productivity terms, a ten hour meeting. Add in preparation time and it’s probably more like fifteen.
A 15 hour meeting… I have to hold my hand up and say that I’ve never seen it like that. But hang on. The Alternative Board is about meetings. And a successful and positive meeting can take three hours – with eight people. A 24 hour meeting! Blimey, almost enough time to pull the country out of recession.
But there’s a difference. TAB meetings are not toxic: they’re about members finding real solutions to real problems. They do not contain morons – at least mine didn’t last time I checked…
And you know what? Sometimes the meetings are beautiful. Sometimes they’re going along – positive, finding solutions – and then someone says something and whoosh…the meeting takes off. The whole becomes more than the sum of the parts. The board members leave enthused, energised – and reassured that in the lonely world of running a business, they’re not alone. Feeling – to borrow what’s fast become a cliché – that, ‘Yes, they can.’