Thursday, January 8, 2009

Torturous Meetings

I am lead to believe that a group of musicians have started an action group to try to prevent the use of their music for torture purposes. When I first heard this I thought that it was a joke, but now I have heard about it from several sources. I tried to imagine it, being tied to chair, forced to listen to Barry Manilow’s Copacabana a thousand times over. So I tried it at home and collapsed half way through the second playing!

The experts claim that being forced to listen to even your favorite music can produced a similar effect. Apparently torturers the world over are, at this very minute, experimenting to find the ultimate musical torture tools. Apparently Witney Houston’s “I will always love you” is high on the list – but I think I can suggest some better ones (should I want to contribute to the perfection of torture).

As a Quaker, I find all kinds of torture absolutely repugnant and I do not want to belittle the problem because apparently this is not a joke and it appears to be very effective. However, sometimes I find attending meetings as a kind of torture. The kind of meetings that have no agenda and apparently no purpose. The kind of meetings where you are invited to attend for your expertise but where you quickly realize that your expertise is the one thing that is not going to help.

I know of a company where people are free to attend meetings as they wish, so if they have nothing to do they can look at the list of meetings for that day and simply ‘drop in’.

Meetings are important and sometimes a very light structure (or apparently no structure at all) can be beneficial – but the important point is: are they effective? Did the brainstorming session produce valuable gems or tedious trivia?

I looked up the definition of the word torture: (apart from the definition to inflict pain to extract information) I discovered: (Collins) 2. ‘To cause mental anguish. Noun.

So there we have it – meetings can be a form of torture!

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