An editorial and book review….
When we started our foray into the intersection of project management and (at the time) “green”, many folks interpreted our work as making project management more “green” by turning the project office lights off when nobody was around, or using less paper for our Gantt charts. We agreed that this was indeed a part of a much larger picture.
Since then, well, first of all, we stopped putting the word “green” in quotes (most of the time) and invented another word for increasing sustainability in business – greenality. We’ve also graduated from “green” project management to the concept of long-term and holistic, or sustainability-oriented project management. It’s a much more meaningful approach – centered around benefits realization for people, planet, and projects.
However, in this post we’re flashing back to those days and looking at the very specific greenality of projects – or in fact of business in general – with a review of a book that covers the topic of meetings.
Think about how much energy is wasted in meetings. In this, we include real, physical energy, such as travel to-and-from, hotel stays, projectors displaying (endless) powerpoint slide decks, and so on. We include the paper copies made for each attendee, the note paper on which endless doodles are applied to match the endless powerpoint decks. But also the mental energy that is wasted in occupying many people without necessarily getting the expected result – or any result at all.
Now move ahead to virtual meetings. Big savings, right? No travel. No hotel. Less paper. Everyone meets online and we’ve saved the planet and run a great meeting! Right?
Wayne Turmel, who we first came across as The Cranky Middle Manager, has written a book called “Meet Like You Mean It!” and it’s a short but powerful guide to meeting online using the many web-based tools like WebEx and Adobe Connect and LiveMeeting. What’s nice about this book is that it includes the general obligatory and important basic guidelines to meetings of all sorts, but gets very detailed and specific in terms of the tools and menu options and features of each of these tools – opening up a virtual treasure chest of capabilities that make virtual meetings actually work at least as well as physical meetings for many purposes.
What also makes this book valuable is Wayne’s outstanding sense of humor, based on his decades of real experience as a manager in the wonderful world of IT projects. Here is a wonderful example of his writing style:
1. Genghis Khan ruled half the known world very effectively
and never held a WebEx meeting. Now, Iâ€™m not suggesting
you use his methods of accountability and performance
review (although they were effective, even if HR wouldnâ€™t
approve.) The point is, when a team is properly motivated,
aligned and held accountable itâ€™s easier to handle the whole
2. Having great tools doesnâ€™t mean that the meetings will be any
better. Itâ€™s what you do with them. Just as in the old movie
â€œSoylent Greenâ€, the secret ingredient is people. A well-led,
inspired team with lousy tools will beat the heck out of a
lousy team with a great IT budget almost every time.
At 146 pages, it’s not that long a book – that’s because it gets right to the point (like your meetings should). So, to those who originally thought that EarthPM was all about green projects in terms of more efficient meetings and burning less energy at the office – this one’s for you!