There are so many things about Corporate America that I don’t miss, but pretty high on the list are meetings and conference calls. Right now I’m on the phone listening to a conference between Google and Salesforce, and it’s amazing to note…
1) How many people are involved in this call. There must be a dozen people dialed in, and only about three of them are actually participating in any way. Several of them are “account managers” and “project managers” and whatnot, which means basically they just oversee things but don’t actually do any work. Maybe they need conference calls to justify their existence somehow.
2) How long it takes to do anything. We’re talking about how to do, for example, some data migration work. They’re bouncing around things like “Well… we might be able to develop a preliminary spec next week and put together some initial documentation the week after that and scope the programming work the following week and get it going after that.” What’s amazing about this is the actual work will probably take a week at most, but there are three or four weeks of paperwork and discussions and conference calls just like this leading up to it. Sometimes I just want to jump into the fray and yell, “Come on guys, I’ll just slam out the code this afternoon and we can move on with our lives!”
3) How no one is willing to commit to anything. Everyone is using vague terms and hazy deadlines as a way to shirk responsibility and make sure no one can hold them to anything later. Of course it makes it impossible to know when anything will happen, which in turn means no one can plan. Again, I just want to say, “I’ll do this part and I’ll have it done next Tuesday” or something, just so we have an actual deadline.
Perhaps best of all, they want to have weekly calls (just like this one) so we can do the same thing all over again.
I guess there are different kinds of people in business: the men of action and the men of meetings.