The Meta-Meeting, and Other Horrors of Committee Service

Alternate title: Notes Toward a Taxonomy of Bad Meetings.

The Meta-Meeting: Your organization faces problems X, Y, and Z. Therefore, you are planning an all-day workshop on addressing X, Y, and Z. Your mission, should you choose to accept it: To have a meeting about how to organize the workshop to address X, Y, and Z, without talking about how to address X, Y, and Z.

The Required-By-Statute Meeting: Your organization needs to change the official written procedure for Process A, to match the way you have actually been doing Process A for the last N years. Everybody is happy with how Process A has been done for the last N years, and there is no significant opposition to the change. However, the rules of your organization state that written procedures can only be changed at an in-person meeting. Therefore, you must have a meeting.

The Should’ve-Been-an-Email Meeting: This one takes many forms: Your organization needs to do Activity B six months from now, so you have a meeting totell people that there will be planning meetings for Activity B three months down the road. Or your organization has recently conducted Assessment C, so you have a meeting at which people are given paper copies of Assessment C. And so forth.

The We-Have-the-Room-Booked-Already Meeting: On the day before a scheduled meeting, the person leading the meeting is still trying to find enough agenda items to justify having the meeting. But you have the meeting anyway.

What should be added to the list?