Meet is Murder

They’re boring. They’re useless. Everyone hates them. So why can’t we stop having meetings? A recent article by Virginia Heffernan for the New York Times discusses the benefits (or lack of) of meeting colleagues in person, and talks about the new tech which just might bring about the end of the boardroom.

Early this year in the sun-streaked offices of Spring, a handsomely capitalised shopping start-up in Manhattan’s Flatiron district, Octavian Costache, the company’s chief technology officer and one of its founders, claimed a spot near the bright new kitchen to make a speech at a weekly all-hands meeting. For several months, I’d been working as a consultant to the company, and, though this was my last day, it was the first time I’d heard Costache address the team. I was excited. Costache, a 34-year-old Romanian with a dimpled, affable face, previously worked at Google, where he helped build Gmail’s multiple-inbox capability and various features of Google Maps. He commands rapt attention at Spring. But on this morning, Costache didn’t want to talk about software. He wanted to talk about meetings.

Specifically, he wanted to talk about meetings as thieves: of joy, of productivity, of mental freedom. Citing a distinction first made by Paul Graham, the prominent venture capitalist, Costache told the room that some people thrive on meetings. These he called Managers, people who require a weekly calendar splotched to saturation with hourly changes of venue and cohort. But there are Makers, too — poetic souls whose well-being can be shattered by an ill-timed ‘‘sync,’’ ‘‘brand lab’’ or ‘‘share-out’’ in a conference room. Makers can’t live like Managers. They require ‘‘Maker hours’’ — long, unspoiled afternoons to muse, contemplate the verities, build digital things and play stress-relieving games of Carcassonne. They need rich, solitary, germinative time. In Graham’s formula, Makers flourish in four-hour stretches, which absolutely must — on pain of inhibiting a company’s growth — be kept unblemished by meetings.

Read the full article here.

Illustrations by James Graham.