Break the Bad Habit of Ineffective Meetings

Why do we continue to have bad meetings? Seriously, 99% of the human population seem to hate them, and there are surveys showing again and again that there are x many meetings everyday that cost gabillions of dollars worth of wasted time and productivity.

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Is it some horrible concoction of misplaced optimism that this time it’ll be better, resigned acceptance that this is a required dog and pony show — the business world’s tradition of dance, monkey, dance — and a massive buildup of bad meeting history that’s created such intense inertia that only superheroes can help us pull away into the light?

Imagine that a group of you had to build a doghouse like Snoopy’s, and you got a toolbox, some wood, and pencils and paper. Your team is revved up about this cool doghouse, you can envision it, you have all these super useful tools, but all your team does with the pencils and paper is doodle pictures of cute dogs instead of making a blueprint or marking down measurements. Then when you run out of paper, you ask for more paper — only to doodle more pictures of dogs.

That’s how we’re treating meetings. Meetings are a helpful tool to decide and plan things. But misused, they’re just a bunch of meaningless doodles that don’t lead to anything being built and Snoopy with no place to live.

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How Mozilla Foundation Navigates Across Teams

The Mozilla Foundation has a super software team working on projects that range from Popcorn (a video remixing application) to Thimble (an easy-to-use web page maker) to Open Badges (a digital badges system that support learning and achievement).

Developer Jon Buckley talked with us about the struggle to align three teams when Mozilla wanted to integrate Badges into both Popcorn and Thimble. Combining multiple product worlds could very well collide into chaos and confusing communication, but Mozilla is seeing smooth sailing.

Status update discussion used to fall to a weekly call, which was time-consuming, while a shared mailing list was only used periodically for such purposes. The Mozilla teams soon turned to iDoneThis to coordinate communication for people spread across time zones and for cutting across teams.  “You don’t have to worry about being in the same room at the same time. That asynchronous nature of updating people is very helpful.

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