From The Jolly Contrarian
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Conference Call Anatomy™

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An utter curse of modern business life, in part, because it seems so convenient. But, just as with the word processor, the boon of technology is also its bane: the ease with which one can now convene tempts one to convene when one does not need to. Hence the proliferation of conference calls and, far worse, video-conference calls — groupings in the analogue past one mysteriously managed to do without, because it was such a pain in the posterior organising them.

Hateful though most physical meetings may be, ones conducted virtually, by Skype, are an order of magnitude worse, less effective, and more reinforcing of every bad habit the organisation has evolved. Those who seek to diffuse their own responsibility amongst their peers for decisions that are really theirs to make and be judged by, can do so fearlessly, as the peers on whom they are laying that responsibility won’t be paying the blindest bit of attention. Instead, they will be on mute, idly googling, side-bar chatting some other reluctant participant, filing emails or attending to any of the five hundred other pointless tasks by which they suspect the great steampunk machine will run its capricious rule over them come judgement day.

Thus a meeting at which everyone must attend, to which no-one pays attention, during which no honest debate can be had, and through the offices of which no valid organisational decision possibly be made.

These days, that is seventy-five per cent of the corporate governance of the modern multinational.

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