Meetings are a great trap.… they are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything.
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.
John Kenneth Galbraith’s 9 Reasons for why people have meetings
- To persuade (goal-oriented)
- To agree on what to do (goal-oriented)
- To be more productive (incentive)
- To avoid pain or boredom of heavy thinking or work (incentive/pain & doubt-avoidance)
- To seek company and not be alone (gregariousness)
- For the prestige of holding the meeting (incentive, status)
- Prestige by association of attending meeting of a cool person (incentive status by association)
- To pretend to work (pain avoidance or laziness)
- Create the impression that some meaningful action is being taken–as is usual in government (perception is reality / do-something-itis)