|Conference Call Anatomy™|
A meeting is what happens when a colleague unilaterally asserts that his agenda is more important than yours. Though, of course, meetings can be benign and even fruitful — few of history’s monsters have been wholly without redeeming feature — convening a meeting is a profoundly political act and, however well-intended, most of what goes on in them has a starkly political aspect.
“Important” meetings are often stewarded by a functionary from the COO office — a “project manager” or “workstream lead” —who gets to watch the the grisly proceedings up close, occasionally twisting the knife with an “innocent” question or even going full Crazy Ivan.
Although nominally no more than a court clerk, a “PM” can skew their role to resemble one of the master’s attack dogs. Depending on the disposition of that person chairing the meeting, it can, therefore, be quite the cat-bird seat: rather like walking around the rim of a volcano in one of those big silver spaceman suits watching everyone else in tee-shirts and flip-flops hopping about trying to dodge flying magma.
Never, ever, to be described as a “meet”. “Meets” happen in swimming pools and on running tracks.
- On a conference call, there are no innocent questions. There are stupid questions, leading questions and trick questions.