I got a request from my manager last Wednesday. “Can you attend a meeting with me on Friday?” they said, “I know it’s short notice but it should be interesting.” “Sure,” says I, “I’ll accept the invite now and look at my workload a bit as it’s full on right now.”
They didn’t tell me the meeting would last seven hours.
Yes it was interesting, and yes it was relevant, but seven hours?! That’s as long as it took to command the sea to “teem with living creatures”, and birds to fly across the heavens (assuming that you believe the Old Testament and accept that God only worked a standard 9-5 with union agreed hour lunch break).
The first half of the day was very interesting, with the facilitator/trainer discussing change management, conflict resolution theory and drawing some very interesting diagrams that all seemed to start with a triangle. We looked at the project they are planning, along with the resources available and the outcomes required. However, the afternoon was a bit of a ramble and discussion, with participants all seeming to be looking at the negatives and trimming back the scope of their project rather than looking at positives and how to achieve the most they can.
To top off this long, long session during which I found myself drifting off on more than one occasion, at the very end of the day my manager asked a question regarding the minimum amount of time the trainer would expect to see spent on taking our project through their process. They let us know that usually it takes about six months, but that a seriously cut down, minimum version of the process could be delivered with 22 days of focused work.
We don’t have 22 days of focused work available.
So, after seven hours of seven people’s time, a seven second question and answer means £700 of facilitation was for nought. Well, not exactly worthless, it helped us think through a lot of things, but we ended up back where we started from, only a lot more tired.
The next time my manager asks me if I can attend a meeting at short notice I’m checking the duration.