Toxic meetings and scratching your itches

25 Feb

by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

I just finished reading the book Rework. It was written by the guys at the company 37Signals. In case you hadn’t heard of them (which I hadn’t) 37signals created the project management software: basecamp.

The authors list a slew of traditional business practices like developing a marketing plan and using the term ASAP and then point out why they are idiotic.

I didn’t find a ton of new thinking but some good reminders for a manager like me who sometimes slips into Dilbert-esque business and leadership habits. Hopefully nobody on my team reads this and says: “sometimes?…try all the time O’Reilly.”

Anyway, here are 5 concepts that inspired me:

* People are waiting to do great work, they just need to be given the chance.

* When people have something to do at home, they get down to business at work. Another way of saying: Want to get something done? Find someone busy to do it.

* Meetings are toxic. They usually are about words and abstract concepts, not real things. If you must have a meeting, begin with a problem, end with a solution.

* The easiest way to create a great product is to make something YOU want to use. If you’re solving someone else’s problems, you’re stabbing in the dark for what they want.

* No time is no excuse. Instead of going to bed at 10, stay up till 11 and spend the time working on your dream.

My big action-item (oops, Dilbert-ian slip) was that first thing Monday morning, we’re going to change our on-hold voice from beating people over the head with commercials interspersed with our jingle to something that sounds more like the way a real person would talk to you.

How does this sound: “Hi, I’m sorry you’re on hold. Thanks for your patience.”


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