Saturday, March 25, 2006

Meetings: The Practical Alternative To Work

We all attend meetings, everyday, and if it is a Friday then I have as many as 4 of them. How, at the end of the day, I still have my sanity partially preserved, is still a mystery to me. Why the techies are subjected so many meetings is a point, I believe, one of my fellow tribes(wo)men will certainly write a technical paper upon. More or less all meetings fall into the following categories:-

1 Status Meetings
They are the regular weekly status meetings kinda thing which are scheduled mostly on Fridays with a sinister intent of dragging people out of their work so that things get delayed n no one can leave early n enjoy. The agenda of the meeting remains unchanged over the period of time. If Dates, Names of people involved and Numeric figures are removed then the MoM of all such meetings would look damn similar, even across organizations. The conductor or such meetings is usually a person from the higher branches of the hierarchy tree. So well versed in his/her job that (s)he could conduct a meeting in coma. Highly qualified, with a degree from The Indian Board Of Alternative Medicines for a proven track record of curing insomnia. Attendance is usually compulsory for all stakeholders (it basically means anybody who is somebody has to attend). Yawns galore on the floor!!!!

2 Reactive Meetings
These are usually conductive in response to certain distress situations. Something has gone terribly wrong and a meeting is called to discuss the contingency plan. Participants are highly charged up and will all move into the meeting room with a mug of coffee in their hand. The most notable thing is the number of people who don't have a clue bout what's going on and are still very enthusiastically involved. Hats and Wigs off to them!! (I believe that technically a Wig is also a Hat). The saddest thing about these kinda meetings is that the official time for jokes and gossip is sacrificed. Shucks!!!

3 Technical meetings
We don't need no gyan on that. These are the kind of meetings we call, and thrive upon.

Techie's guide to surviving meetings

1. Make the best possible use of the designated time in meetings for cracking jokes n gossip (i.e. before the supremo walks in) to your full advantage. Make sure you go through sites like this & this (Warning: NSFW) and update yourself with the latest jokes of a certain flavour. This will ensure your colleagues look forward to having you and you secure invites to even those meetings in which you have as much role to play, as much as Mallika Sherawat had in 'The Myth'. Please keep in mind that the jokes should be replaced by 'intelligent discussions' on the latest Ekta Kapoor soaps on the telly, in case the sex ratio at your workplace is in favour of women.

2. You may choose not to answer the question put up by the other people in the meeting, for the fear of the abundance of stupidity attached to it, which might rub off on you in case you decided to handle them, but you should never neglect the questions put forward by the boss at the meeting. Also it is a good idea to maintain a straight, thinking look on your face and nod your head in agreement whenever he/she speaks something.

It is a best practice to utter something every 9 mins. Why 9?? Lemme explain.. See, out of the sixty minutes of a 1 hour meeting, 10 mins will be wasted coz boss will turn in late and no one will start until then (Utilize this time for exercising the mantra in point 1), then halfway down the meeting there will be a brief period of 'Collective Attention Loss' in the meeting. So count those 5 mins off too. Remaining - 45 mins. Divide it by 5 (5 = the no of participants/the no of chairs/the no of plants/the no of people awake/ the no of times boss caught you yawning/the no of whiteboard markers in the room - whatever fits the bill, suit urself. Don't ask me "Why 5?") which results in 9. Also, I personally think, 10 minutes is too big a period to keep ur mouth shut and not yawn. Add to it, the fact that it won't allow anyone to say "It's been 10 minutes since u spoke a word". That person will definitely feel awkward in saying "It's been 9 minutes since u spoke a word"

3. Speak Intelligently. No no, I am not asking you to tax your brains on preparing notes for meetings. HELL NO!! Leave them for doing some actual work. All I am saying is that what u speak should carry the message to the listener that the views are a result of intelligent inquisition and meticulous analysis. Just make it 'seem' that way. Go thru the list of words below:-

Root Cause Analysis (RCA)
Fish Bone Analysis (FBA)
Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI)
Competency Level Assessment (CLA)
Key Process Indicator (KPI)
Critical To Quality (CTQ)
Return On Investment (RoI)
Snags n Spikes
Best practices
Reverse engineering
Repeatable process
Lessons learnt
Highlights n lowlights
Performance tuned
Peer review
360 degree feedback
Wholistic view/thinking
Futuristic thinking
Avoidable bottlenecks
Congestion points
Sigma level
Quality consciousness
Version control

Make sure you include one such word in EACH of your sentences. The more the merrier.
The thumb rule, dear readers, is :-
Each verb should preferably be preceded by a powerful adjective. (Don't expect me to go into the details of verbs and adjectives. I remember as much about high school grammar as u do and Wren & Martin were never my favourite authors)

Sample this:-
"After pertinent FBA and RCA we have disembarked on the justified conclusion that the drop in CSI can be advertently attributed to PSC and low CLA."
In simple terms - "Client is pissed off coz we screwed up"

TIP - Using abbreviations serves the purpose of making the sentence complicated and making it difficult to decipher.

4. Carry some printouts to the meetings. Printouts, mind you, not newspaper. That would make it look too obvious. You could print out the cricket match scores (they fit perfectly in Excel sheets) and ponder over the match in the meeting, you could print the lyrics to your fav song and read them , you could print the jokes as mentioned in point 1 and go thru them n prepare yourself for the next meeting... What the hell!! you could print this blog and read it just in case you forget these pearls of wisdom.

5. Last and certainly not the least - GEEKSPEAK
If confronted by an imposing question to which you have no clue, if cornered by a comment which you just dont know how to handle - "Have no fear, geekspeak is here". Start talking in technical terms, left right and center. Use the nerd lingo with a genrous amount of abbreviations thrown in. Remember, Geekspeak is your Excalibur, your ultimate shield, your impregnable armour.

With all that gyan my dear geeks, go, the world is yours to conquer.

Amen !!


If I tell ya, I'll have to kill ya said...

Am the first one to post a comment...HAHAHA...Good one...Lalit dude, I think we may just be working in the same company. Seriously, not kidding.

Only one bone of contention.

"Please keep in mind that the jokes should be replaced by 'intelligent discussions' on the latest Ekta Kapoor soaps on the telly, in case the sex ratio at your workplace is in favour of women."

WTF is that eh??? Chee Chee

Sayesha said...

Baap re... yahan toh sitar baj raha hai! :O

Lalit, this may sound really silly, but I really like your watch in your profile pic :)

Br!j said...

Guru bade se bada dekha aap se bada guru nahi dekha ;-)

Archana said...

Oh, what abt the "all hands meetings"? Other than the person who is speaking, I doubt if anyone else is even awake. I arm myself with strong coffee, a notebook and a pen on such occassions. If I could sell all the wonderful artwork I make during such meetings, I would be a millionaire by now!

Nice post btw :-)!

Curious said...

This is the first time i actually read through a verry verrry lengthy post... it was fun to read with all the music in the background...its amazing...maybe thats why you put it here in the first place!
nice post!

Convivial said...

oh finally i read it!!!
after reading ths long n exhaustive post.. only one thng comes into my mind "thank god, i dont attend meetings!!"

~Anushka~ said...


Lalit Singh said...

@If.... a.k.a Deepa(until further notice)
Yeah me be working in the same company.. my comp has a 2-3 offices in GG.

About the 'bone of contention', I am telling you (and wont be killing you for telling :-P ), I have seen women who ACTUALLY do that while waiting for the meetings to start.

Thx!! :-))

Thx aapko bhi :-))
yeh mere experince ka nichod hain

All hands meeting... now that's a new one
strong coffee, a notebook and a pen.. that's my ammo too gal!!! although I am not as talented when it comes to art.. so I indulge myself in some doodles

Thx for your patience... the purpose of the music is to elevate the visitors reading experience and making it a joy not only for your eyes n mind but your ears as well.. OK OK, here's the truth - I like it I play it.

Now u cant say u weren't warned

*Sprinkling water on the face*
Wake up wake up before I start singing "Jago jago jago subah ho gayi.." in the voice of Aditya Narayan

Apy said...

Awesome post Dude !!
There was a lot of gyan in it.. n gyan is always good...will definitely try to use it :)
anyways .. got a meeting.. seeya later...:D

~ Deeps ~ said...

this was indeed funny...frm techie's perspective ofcourse :D

If I tell ya, I'll have to kill ya said...

left u a note at my blog's comment section. its too long to be copied you can read it there... yea, basically i'm just trying to increase my hit counter :-))))

my co. has 2-3 off in ggn too. hmmm...the plot thickens.

Lalit Singh said...

Thx.U know wat Apy.. ur name reminds me of an old frnd, except that she was a girl.
Dude... I hope u put all that gyan into practice, lemme just add, at your own risk.

Thank u hain sir.

Read it. Waiting for your post(s) on the trip.. m sure they will be fun to read

Chitrangada said...

:D :D

I m glad that i have better things to do :P

U enjoy ur meetings sply tech meetings :P


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