Unproductive Meetings: Homer Simpson’s 10 Step Guide
Ever feel like your life at work closely resembles a comedy?
One daydream led me to create Wrappup, a meeting productivity app. So here’s another day-dream re-imagining unproductive meetings with the help of my favorite TV character: The Legendary Homer Simpson
Step 1: Have lots of meetings
“There are meetings, and meetings about meetings, and meetings to plan reports, and meetings to review the status of reports. And what these meetings are about is people just trying to figure out what they are doing.” Paul Strassmann
Some of these stats are killers:
“According to the National Statistics Council, 37 percent of employee time is spent in meetings”
“This Weekly Meeting Took Up 300,000 Hours a Year”
Homer’s take: You mean I can sit in a chair all day and I only have to change meeting rooms!?
Step 2: Arrive late
“A recent survey found 15 to 20 percent of the U.S. population is “consistently late,” especially when it comes to work. […] American CEOs are late to eight out of every 10 meetings, according to a 2006 survey by Proudfoot Consulting. And when CEOs are late by 10 minutes every day, it costs the U.S. economy $90 billion in lost productivity.”
Marge: Homer! You’re still here? You should have left for work an hour ago.
Homer: They said if I come in late again I’m fired. I can’t take that chance.
Step 3: Side-track the conversation
There is always somebody who’s going to ramble about something that has nothing do with anything. Its actually really annoying…
In a survey of 1,305 employees, the number one reported meeting problem was “Getting off subject”
Homer’s take: First priority on the sales agenda, we need to talk about who’s eating all the doughnuts in the coffee room
Step 4: Don’t have a reason to meet
“Why are we here?”
I’m not a philosopher, but I often become Plato in my meetings. The response is usually something close to the classic “deer in headlights”. Our minds have become numb to meeting, but we should all be asking ourselves “is there a real reason to have this meeting?”
In a survey of 1,305 employees, the number two reported meeting problem was “No Agenda or Goals”
Homer’s take: Why? Because they're stupid, that's why. That's why everybody does everything.
Step 5: Take bad notes
We’ve all had that moment where you look at your notebook and squint, hoping you can trigger some flicker of a memory.
Even if I did manage to write it, I often wonder how I ever got past 1st grade handwriting.
Step 6: Use unfounded statistics
Let everyone know how smart you are by using numbers. Its the easiest way to prove a good point and make an impression.
Most people don’t care enough to check you’re numbers, especially if they understand them. Well nowadays google can help you turn your B.S. meter on.
Homer’s take: Aw, people can come up with statistics to prove anything. Forfty percent of all people know that
Step 7: Repeat after the engineer
You will always sound smart if you repeat what other smart people say. Try to introduce it:
“Just so we’re all on the same page her, you believe…”
“So if I understood you correctly, you’re saying that…”
“I agree with Stan when he said [place repeat sentence here]…”
Homer’s take: That’s true, I agree with you, but I also wanted to explain that I agree with what you said
Step 8: Don’t pay attention
92% of meeting attendees admit to multi-tasking during meetings
69% admitted to checking email
49% admitted to doing other unrelated work
41% admitted to multitasking “often” or “all the time”
Homer’s take: You have my undivided attention [daydream]
Step 9: Use smart-ass meeting cliches
Key words: “Synergy” “80/20” “Triangulate” “Granular” “2.0” “Strategic” “Delta” “Workstream” “Leverage” “Innovation” “Optimize” “Deliverable” “Impact” “Cross-functional”
Phrases: “Quick Wins” “Big Picture” “Taking a step back” “Adding Value” “Deep dive” “Low hanging fruit” “Boiling the ocean” “Bottom up analysis”
Homer’s take: Take a step back and look at the big picture. We haven’t added any strategic value or synergy to the workstream. We need to deep dive and triangulate more quick wins to optimize the deliverable’s impact”
Step 10: Don’t do actual work
If you never do anything after the meeting, then you’re doing you’re job like a true Homer Simpson
“Marge, don’t discourage the boy! Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It’s what separates us from the animals! Except the weasel.”
Homer’s take: If something is hard to do, then its not worth doing