Monday, February 16, 2009

John Kenneth Galbraith on Meetings.

Right now I am reading John Kenneth Galbraith's history "The Great Crash 1929," the chilling story of the advent of the Great Depression. Galbraith is not only a noted economist he is also a darn good writer who laces his prose with wit and sarcasm. His satirical observations about the value of meetings are worth reprinting here.

"Men meet together for many reasons in the course of business. They need to instruct or persuade each other. They must agree on a course of action. They find thinking in public more productive or less painful than thinking in private. But there are at least as many reasons for meetings to transact no business. Meetings are held because men seek companionship or, at a minimum, wish to escape the tedium of solitary duties. They yearn for the prestige which accrues to the man who presides over meetings, and this leads them to convoke assemblages over which they can preside. Finally, there is the meeting which is called not because there is business to be done, but because it is necessary to create the impression that business is being done. Such meetings are more than a substitute for action. They are widely regarded as action."

Galbraith wrote this in 1955. I wonder what he would make of Microsoft Meeting Maker.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'd bet the ancient Romans and Greeks had a philosopher who said something similar, too. It seems to be a universal human trait--holding a meeting when you can't figure something out on your own and you want to spread the responsibility around.