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About that TED Talk - "Offices & Meetings"

by Rick Baker
On May 19, 2014

My son, Jack, introduced me to the TED Talk by Jason Fried, titled "Why work doesn't happen at work". 

One key aspect of his TED Talk - Jason talked against business meetings.

He shared his view - Employees don't call meetings, only managers call meetings...and meetings are a waste of time.

When I watched and listened to that part, I felt a Thought Post coming on. Here it is...



When Jason Fried said, "Only managers call meetings....employees don’t call meetings"... that got me thinking, 'Why don’t employees call meetings?'

I think employees don’t call meetings for 4 reasons:

  1. They favour being on their own over being in meetings with other people,
  2. They don’t believe they have the right to call meetings,
  3. They know they are doing the right things and they see no need to spend time talking with others about it, &
  4. They know they are not doing the right things and they see no need to spend time talking with others about it.

Those are some examples of why employees don't call meetings. On the other hand, the reality is most employees do call meetings…it's just, when they do it, they don’t call it calling meetings.

Most employees initiate conversations with co-workers. Those qualify as meetings. In office environments, these conversations take forms ranging from helping one another with work problems to chit-chat about family woes. We could call the one end of the spectrum 'work' and the other end 'personal'. We could claim the one end of the spectrum illustrates an advantage of having office environments for employees while the other end illustrates a disadvantage. However, some employees would argue we have that backwards.

We must not underestimate the extent of people's needs for social interaction.

Even if we hear and watch it in a compelling TED Talk, we cannot accept as fact the claim employees don't call meetings.

Yes, it is true managers do call meetings.

Managers call meetings for a number of reasons:

  1. Habit…they have accepted the habit - 'meetings are a necessary process of business', 
  2. Their egos enjoy being front and centre and meetings provide a vehicle to feed their egos, 
  3. They believe their people need help [whether their people agree with that or not], 
  4. They see meetings as an efficient way to communicate with many people, 
  5. They see value in team communications, 
  6. The see value in people being accountable to a team, & 
  7. They know physical presence is key to inspiring people.
Wait a second - 

They know physical presence is key to inspiring people.

Thought Tweet #994

by Rick Baker
On May 8, 2014

Thought Tweet #994 If you're struggling with business, take a detailed look at how you deal with People, Processes, & Situations.


The Thinking Behind The Tweet

If you're struggling with business, take a detailed look - take a detailed look from a fresh, new perspective - at how you deal with People, Processes, & Situations.

When you do this you will discover your Bad Habits, the ones that are at the root of your struggles. When you know these Bad Habits you can remove them and replace them with Good Habits.

A Solution Mindset

by Rick Baker
On Apr 28, 2014


When problems arise, remember:

  1. Business Contains Only 3 Things: People, Processes, & Situations,
  2. Processes can topple People - this applies to both technical Processes and interpersonal-communication Processes, &
  3. Situations can topple People - especially 'new' Situations and stressful Situations.
In fact, more often than not flawed Processes and uncomfortable Situations do impair People's abilities to perform in productive ways.

The most expeditious and productive way to address problems is to first consider the Processes in play and the nature of the Situation surrounding the problem.

Do not assume you understand the Processes...even if you believe you have clear work-process and you have communicated it over and over. With the current high level of workplace stress and the fact People are struggling here, there, and everywhere with 'multi-tasking', People do not receive your messages as well as you think they do and People do not remember your messages as well as you wish they would. When it comes to Processes - never assume.
If you are 100% certain the Processes are bang-on and perfectly-communicated...doubt your understanding and doubt your memory...investigate the Processes. 
Doubt the Processes before you doubt the People.

Do not underestimate the power the Situation will have over the People's behaviour. Every Situation will have its nuances: different People, different Processes, different urgencies, different distractions, different constraints, different atmosphere, etc., etc., etc. Often, actually very often, when problems arise People's good intentions are overruled by the Situation. 

If you are 100% certain People are to blame...doubt your conclusion. And, adjust your thinking to incorporate the reality that:
  • good People do bad things when the Situation guides them 'to the dark side' [consider the Stanford prison experiment]
  • well-intentioned People fail to fulfil their good intentions when Situations guide/bring them 'to the failing side' [consider your own experiences, when circumstances beyond your control stopped you from delivering on a commitment]
  • People get caught up in Situations and sometimes common sense takes a back seat [consider the Vancouver '2011 Stanley Cup riot']
Discredit the Situation before you discredit the People.



Before you blame People for the problems make sure you have given sufficient thought to the high likelihood either Processes or the Situation are close to the root of the problem.

Linkage to another Spirited Leaders' philosophy - P=2S+O -

Spirited Leaders believe - for every Problem you must find at least 2 Solution options and keep your eyes open for Opportunities. And the best way to begin considering 2 Solution options: (1) look at the Processes and see if they contain the seeds for a good Solution and (2) look at the Situation and see if it contains the seeds for a good Solution. Do both these things before considering whether or not People are the source of the problem. This is not only the route to P=2S+O. It is the route to better Decisions. It is the route to improved attitudes at work. It is the route to creating positive change. It is the route to building relationships and building trust.


Quick to Criticize, Tough to Build Trust

by Rick Baker
On Apr 25, 2014

Business Contains Only 3 Things: People, Processes, & Situations.

When a problem arises at work you can consider these 3 things and you can choose from 3 options: 

  1. You can blame People for the problem
  2. You can consider the possibility that Processes are bogging People down and that's what is causing the problem
  3. You can consider the possibility that the Situation at hand is ripe for the sort of problem you are observing

Of these 3 options, the quickest is #1. It only takes a fraction of a second to jump to the conclusion this person or that person or all those People are the cause of the problem. This option has another major advantage: it is well-aligned with your biases, particularly your Attribution Bias. Evidently, this is a very good option because most People select option #1.

For most People, the other two options do not hit their radar screens. Most People do not consider or take the time to understand both Processes and Situations have tremendous impact on other People's performance. Most People do have at least a vague idea that Processes and Situations impact on their own performance. In fact, they often blame Processes and Situations for their own performance shortfalls. However, when it comes to other People's performance shortfalls it is much more common to simply blame the other People. 

[If nothing else this tendency to blame others is good for your ego.]

If, however, you give problems a little more thought and other People a little more credit then you will discover many problems are due to glitches in Processes and the presence of less-than-ideal Situations. You will also discover the time you invest in analyzing and understanding Process glitches and Situation nuances pays off huge dividends because it both allows you to solve the true problem and maintain harmonious interpersonal relationships.

PS: When you fail to consider Processes and Situations and default to blaming People, how do you think they react? Do you think they consider Processes and Situations and conclude you are not to blame for blaming them? Or, do you think they too tend to jump to the conclusion other People are to blame?...And, in this instance, there is only one other person to blame and that person is you.

Thought Tweet #984

by Rick Baker
On Apr 24, 2014

Thought Tweet #984 People, Processes, & Situations : When problems & stresses arrive, it is natural for People to want to exit the Situation. 


The Thinking Behind The Tweet

That's the legacy of our ancestors who, without fight-or-flight [and the other 2 options: 'freeze' or 'faint'], would not have brought us to where we are today.


Business Contains Only 3 Things | Thought Tweets

Thought Tweet #965

by Rick Baker
On Mar 28, 2014

Thought Tweet #965 On Incompetence Road: we stumble over people and processes; we get bogged down in problems' potholes and ruts. 


The Thinking Behind The Tweet

  1. There are lots of potholes where I drive and I listen to self-help CDs while I am driving.
  2. Business Contains Only 3 Things: People, Process, & Situations

Like roads, some Situations contain potholes.

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