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« Measuring nothing (with great accuracy) | Main | ...different people differently »

Conference call hygiene

On behalf of the many who have suffered through pointless and painful conference calls, some general principles:

  1. When in doubt, don't have one.
  2. Everyone now knows precisely what time it is. Show up ten seconds early; one minute late is too late.
  3. If you can't live with rule 1, can we live with this one? 10 minutes is the maximum length of a conference call. In, out, over.
  4. If the meeting is only ten minutes long, good news, you have time to pull over, time to let the dog out, and time to give us your undivided attention.
  5. If you're not planning on speaking, no need to attend. You can listen to the recording later if you need to, or we can send you 8 bullet points and save us all time.
  6. While we're on the topic, audio is a truly powerful means of communication, and if you want to record your message and send it to all of us, I'm totally in favor of this. But don't confuse the one-way broadcast power of audio with a pretend meeting where you're talking and we're supposed to quietly listen in real time. That's not a meeting and all the trappings of a conference call detract from the thing you were trying to do.
  7. Before you waste a thousand dollars of company time on another conference call, listen to Al's book for $4. Almost all conference calls that involve more than five people are either a lazy choice or a show of power, and should be eliminated. If you want to talk, for sure, please pick up the phone and call me. 

If we work in the plant, we make widgets. And we expect that the making of widgets will be consistent, rational and done with forethought and a lack of waste. Many of us now work in a system that makes decisions, has meetings and markets ideas. The same kind of clarity and craftsmanship ought to exist here too.

This video is funny, because it's true.

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