I am a daydreamer. Always have been, I can put earphones in, head for a run and I am gone….I don’t even feel the miles tick by at times. Is it an escape mechanism? I don’t really know, but I do recognise there are times when an active imagination can just confuse a situation or me, which lets face it is very easy. I like wondering what people are really like… I would love to be able to read people’s thoughts for say 10 minutes. Can you imagine? It would be so interesting. I reckon 10 minutes would do it… I don’t want that sort of power for too long. No, 10 minutes… thanks!
The problem though, as a day dreamer is when your mind decides to start joining it’s own dots… like now… I’m in a meeting on the top story of an impressive building, the sun is doing it’s best to break through the soup of clouds and the subject matter is heavy going. For once, I’m late, I was summoned to the meeting after mistakenly thinking it started 30 minutes later. I don’t have time to hand over my apologies before we are off and onto the very grown up serious subject at hand.
The subject matter is not light, I start to make notes, I’m furiously trying to figure out where we are in the agenda, and to remember what was this meeting even about… It’s one of ‘those’ meetings, lots of talk and few decisions being made. I struggle with these, but struggle even more with meetings where the agenda is completely ignored and the conversation rambles and even fewer decisions are made.
I sometimes think that by taking notes people think you are heavily invested in the meeting. Nothing could be further from the truth in this regard. The guy leading the meeting is the CEO (this is not my current role for clarity) and is interest led and also dominating. I start to review the room and see how people are reacting to him. I know everyone in the room well except for a new joiner. He has something to prove and is overly attentive and tries to make point after point. Something the CEO doesn’t like, he hasn’t learned to read that yet.
From the corner of my eye I can see into the apartments that back onto the building. They are magnificent, some look like coffee table brochures, one has a baby grand piano, though I suspect few are happy with my vantage point view if they have paid well into the millions and millions.
The meeting rumbles on, 20 minutes and several pages of notes later and we are well into it…
Across the way, a computer screen has been left on in one of the apartments, tbf it also has a Christmas tree still up, but I’m OK with that, the room is not messy or dirty, just well… lived in. It is almost the end of February, so I guess this person much have a busy life. I mean, who has the time to get a Christmas tree down from the 10th floor… I am reminded of a letter I once received… I had the pleasure of living for a short time in a newly built complex in Dublin. Christmas had come and gone and so the Christmas tree was jettisoned to the balcony where it languished for several months. I’d like to think that the housing committee were trying to bring humour to their correspondence by referring to the approaching Easter holidays, but I doubt it. There is little humour in a the €500 fee.
We supposed to be talking about the things that Senior Executives all like to say they do… “we’re talking strategy”… well we’re not, there is certainly a lot of talking. How much of it is actually strategy is anybodies guess. As concentration wains the pot of sweets in the centre of the table is passed around…the CEO is now rather red faced and everyone can read that he is not happy.
The Christmas tree apartment has a human in it. The human has brightly coloured pyjamas and the one cup every house in the UK seems to have… it’s of course gigantic with Sports Direct emblazoned across it. She is oblivious to the tone of the meeting going on right across from her and it seems she has music on as she dances through her apartment. She is joined by a black dog of some sort who is also dancing, though to be fair he is really jumping around like a lunatic. Looks like fun.
Certainly a lot more fun than our “strategy meeting”, this is the third in the series of these meetings and so far I’m none the wiser as to what our strategy actually might be. There are lots of mentions regarding our brand and external agencies… it’s pretty mundane to tell the truth.
I read someone describe the enthusiasm “most view the prospect of a two-hour meeting with the same enthusiasm as Prometheus awaited the daily arrival of the eagle, sent by the gods to peck at his liver”. This works for me. I could refer to Sisyphus but we would end up at the same point. Further more, in 1957, C. Northcote Parkinson, an academic and writer on management, came up with the law of triviality, that “the time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum [of money] involved.” In that same spirit, this columnist would like to propose an even broader principle, applying to gatherings of ten people or more, and immodestly called Bartleby’s Law: “80% of the time of 80% of the people in meetings is wasted.” I don’t know if this has been scientifically tested but it kinda makes sense to me.
So day dreaming is my escape from this meeting. Until that is… I’m handed the plug in for my laptop for “your section Ciara”, bugger… should have properly read the agenda… how I wish I was in my pyjamas dancing in my kitchen with my dog.