Makers schedule, Managers schedule (on meetings)

Sten Vesterli has an excellent post today regarding meetings (stop having them or keep them short).

I like to write software – not talk about it – so I couldn’t agree more. But there is a level of meetings that we truly need.

Such as:

  • Meetings with Business regarding the changes they require
  • Coordination between development teams
  • Short (*very short*) status meetings to keep a Project Manager in the loop

Things like that. Some of this can, and should be, delegated to as few people as possible. Which is why Sten’s post should be taken to heart.

Paul Graham had a fantastic post in 2009 (linked here) regarding the different views on meetings between “Makers” and “Managers”. Managers in this context are people who spend their time managing work done by “Makers”. In IT-perspective this could be Project Managers, Team and Department Managers, a.s.o. The Makers are … well developers, analysts, testers, a.s.o.

Having been on both sides of this particular fence this post strikes a nerve. The basic premise is this:

  • Managers spend most of their time with meetings and correspondence
  • Makers spend most of their time creating stuff or thinking about how to create stuff

This means that for a Manager one more meeting – provided there is still time to have a Lunch – is not a problem. That’s what the day is filled with anyway.

For a Maker however a meeting during the day can blast that day to bits. Makers need to get in and stay in “The Zone”. “The Zone” is where you’re most productive – everything is clear all paths laid bare – now all we need to do is write the Code. Some studies (I can’t find them right now, sorry) have shown that getting back into “The Zone” can take as much as 1 hour, sometimes more.

So when a meeting is placed in the middle of a day, and that day happens to be a day where you need to tackle a difficult algorithm (or whatever) – then the day can be lost completely. There’s not enough time before the meeting, nor after to get in the zone and solve the thing.

So I couldn’t agree more. We need as few meetings as possible. And the one we do schedule should be as short as possible and placed during the early hours of the day – leaving the Makers enough time to get and remain productive.

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