Almost 20 years after I have banned conferencing from my business, I still run into people who ask: “Is it really true that you don’t hold meetings? How is that possible?” Their incredulity never ceases to amaze me. When I dig deeper into their skepticism I find that it almost always comes down to the following question: how can you solve problems in your business without holding meetings? Well, it is perfectly possible to do so. Plus, meetings actually obstruct (!) problem solving.
For starters, why would you make a problem the main topic of a conference, if you are looking for a quick solution? What is the use of having individual team members give their subjective outlook on said problem, besides that is very time consuming? It might foster disagreement and distance between them, while it is in the interest of the business that they work well together. Plus, why magnify this problem, as for the most part your organization is functioning just fine. Before you know it the issue starts defining how people see your business.
Conferencing does not help to quickly solve the problem, on the contrary it is conducive to doubt, emotions and delay.
There is another reason why I think that having meetings is a terrible idea. In a self reflective organization like mine, team members are asking themselves continuously: why am I doing this in this way? Is there a better way? In my experience meetings do not stimulate this valuable self evaluation, they tend to stop it. How many times I’ve seen conferences used to absolve oneself of blame and point at someone else? Or to just vent? Or to start an argument based on envy? Everything not to look at oneself.
I really do not see one single benefit of conferencing.
Instead of a long sit down meeting, every morning I talk to my team for about ten minutes in a ‘daily huddle’. We are literally thinking on our feet and focus on solutions. The efficiency and flexibility of the team members keeps amazing me. For example during the wildfires in Yosemite, we had to change our customers bookings quick. In part thanks to the huddle, this was an incredibly smooth process. Everyone was engaged and helping each other out.
It is no less than bizarre that I still get that question: “Why don’t you hold meetings?” Based on my experience I should be the one asking: “Why do you still hold meetings?”