I have a terribly bad habit. When I'm on an airplane, I have a tendency to be a "Nosy Parker" and try to read the magazine article, newspaper-- or even better-- powerpoint sildes of the people sitting in front of me. I'm fascinated by what occupies the attention of my incidental traveling companions.
So I'm sitting here, somewhere between Minneapolis and Dallas, spying the deck of the dude in front of me. Here's the headline of the slide he's been stuck on for the past 65 minutes:
"We are starting the process of identifying the implementation roadmap now, but it will not be complete until February 2012" (It is currently October 2011)
And then here is the schedule that followed:
October - Pre-draft of roadmap version 1.0
November - Workshop to refine roadmap 1.0; refine timeline, activities, and resource allocations
December - Review version 2.0 with Steering Committee; refine timeline, activities, and resource allocations
January - Incorporate findings from architecture assessment; refine timeline, activities, and resource allocations
February - Seek approvals for business cases and roadmap version 4.0
Really? Five months, just to get a plan together. Now, admittedly, I have no clue what this roadmap is for. But I think this is a good metaphor for how we often meet for the sake of meeting, and desperately quest for consensus when what we probably need is just strong leadership. To me, this seems like a throwback to a time where life moved much slower. In the digital, ever-connected age, we need to be agile and move quickly. What is cutting edge today is old hat tomorrow.
Or, it may be that we satisfy ourselves with activity when we should be striving for productivity. I read a study recently that suggested that when we talk about our goals and plans, subconsciously it is just as satisfying as actually doing them. So maybe we need to talk (and meet) less and fixate on actually doing more. Perhaps we need to ask for forgiveness instead of begging for approval.
Or maybe I just need to mind my own business on airplanes.