Meeting as Wasted Time: Made, not Born

This has been a pet peeve of mine for a very long time. We academics completely miss the mark when we decry the number of meetings we have to attend. The problem is not the number of meetings, it’s how abysmally run they are. Both our colleagues and our administrative sisters and brothers waste scads of institutional resources (read our time) by poorly thought out, poorly prepared for, and poorly managed meetings. We tend not to help much: few of us really know how to attend a meeting and almost no one actually does any “homework” before a meeting.

One solution I have been trying to sell is the budgeting of faculty time. Anyone who calls a meeting has to “pay” for it and in any given semester there is only so many “meeting person-hours” to go around. Another is to have ongoing training in how to do meeting. It’s one area where some for profit companies have figured something out : they respect the idea that time is money and so they try to waste less of it.

Author: Dan Ryan

I'm currently an Academic Program Director at I've been a professor at University of Toronto, University of Southern California, and Mills College teaching things like human centered design, computational thinking, modeling for policy sciences, and social theory. I'm driven by the desire to figure out how to teach twice as many twice as well twice as easily.

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