Corporate meetings. The much glorified, overhyped instance which all us MBAs (Ok, I barr a few) know are humbug.
A few months out of B school, and anyone with a bit of common sense knows what a sham they are. Sometimes of course, they are useful, but the top management review meetings are the worst. They basically mean putting the blame on soemone, shouting a little, and ... well, something.
So today as I went for the "high profile" monthly meeting ritual, I started off with a look at the mousepad - the photograph of which I dutifully sent to as many ppl as I knew would appreciate it (I would post it here if I could upload snaps from office). A photograph of assorted bottlecaps, rather colourful for the drab meeting room, it had everything from coke to pepsi, beer to whiskey bottle caps.
The conference room here is dull. Unlike my previous organization, this one is in cream and yellow, colours which invariable spread more gloom than they want to. Closed in, padded, leather chairs - recipe for sleep! I prefer something light and energetic. And there is something old world in its feel... the wooden desk of cream-yellow wood cant hold a candle to a gleaming table of dark brown or even a synthetic one of white or light grey. The wrinkle and stitched leather chairs of light brown are definitey a decade old compared to dark brown or black sleek chairs...and much less energetic too. Walls should definitely be white or glass, not cream yellow and light brown interspersed with flannel!
A U shaped table? Why? People cant see anyone! Oval is better... and the worst part - the projector display board stretches beyond the height of the table in its lower level, thus making it impossible for peple near the top of the table to see the figures/ writing at the bottom of the board, thus making any other technology available seem rather useless.
Ah well, critical assesment - a matter of few moments in hours-long meeting. So, I do what I am good at. Making inconscpicuous doodles - so that my neighbours cannot notice em, and noting idiosyncrasies. Of course, putting in the vital point once in a while, nodding intelligently and supporting someone are the vital necessities.
Always notice the Dress code. More varieties of light blue and white shirts under one roof is rather difficult to find.
- There were 21 people in this meeting. 20 were men. 15 of them had a moustache. 3 of the moustaches were thin lines, rest were luxuriant growths. The most dynamic guy has an enviable growth, cowboy style, drooping on both sides. Only one of the people without moustache was top level, and that too HR, and a rather sidelined top guy. His HR buddy is more active. Hmm... is that why there are lesser women? No moustaches on them?
- Yawns. Invariable. Surprisingly, only 6 of them today. If you can keep yourself from reciprocating, by dutifully sipping on water and doodling, you can pass time by counting the platinum/gold caps due to Root Canals, and correlating that with age.
- Sleeptalkers. Usually the back-up people sleep unless spoken to. Today because of large group and difficulty in fitting into the table, only one managed a comfortable open-eyed nap. Sad.
- Because of lack of things to do, and not to seem like they are taking notes, most people resort to entertainment in their bodies. Scratching is in bad manners, and rather far from hands located on desks. Slowly the fingers therefore migrate to suporting the chin in a thoughtful stance from the folded position on desk, thereafter to the location between nose and lip, and for some peple, it culminates in itching the nose. From inside. Nose picking...surreptous or digging for brains, it definitely is there. This activity is most important to be noticed as it gives an indication as to whose pen can be shared, and who hand is to be shaken, or otherwise.
If you want everyone to get really animated and put in their tuppence worth, talk of HR, retention and recruitment of talent. It always invites a host of suggestions and greivnaces. This is one head where everyone can pour their woes, and no one can get blamed. Afterall, everyone will agree, attrition is an industry wide trend (HR will nod), and getting new people to fill in and pick up on the job is time taking (HR nods again). Of course work will suffer! (Hear hear!) So let us talk of what can be done!!
Apart from all this, the few PJs cracked are integral parts, and of course the agenda... including seriously made well meaning suggestions for making a formatting change.
"I think it will be helpful if this is marked in green and not dones in red rather than the blue and yellow used now" (I am serious on this).
"Isnt the growth 201% positive and not -201% as mentioned there? Oh, just formula errror eh? He he, its important, please make a note of it! Afterall I always look at bottomline first" (When actual figures dont even need you to look at the % figures in italics and smaller font - they are so obvious)
"The background can be little darker, hai na?"
And so on.
And that my freinds, is a typical high profile corporate meeting.