Zombie Meeting

Zombie Meeting

Zombie MeetingOne of the things I like about the zombie metaphor is people get it.  We all know a zombie when we see it.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a zombie project, customer, vendor, co-worker, or…a meeting.  Oh yes, the dreaded zombie meeting.  But what if you’re on the fence when it comes to identifying zombie meetings?  I’ve written a few posts of what makes a good meeting.  It’s time to now list what makes a bad meeting.

But wait!  Why the negativity?  Isn’t this blog mostly positive information?  Sure, but I recently read, on Dan Pink’s blog, an explanation of why you should come up with at least one bad idea today.  I found that the idea really worked.  I would say I decline around 80% of meeting invites.  But, why do I decline so many?  Here are a few reasons why.  Each reason identifies a potential zombie meeting.  If you go to these meetings, you risk being sucked into the horde already attending.  Take a moment to review the list.

You may be in a Zombie Meeting if…

[1] No purposed reason for the meeting, with actionable events in mind.
e.g. “Provide an updated status, identifying risks and opportunities, and identify new action items.”

[2] No defined attendee list, mapped to the actionable events listed in step 1.  There is a difference between an attendee list and a communications distribution list.  I get meeting invites sent to a program level distribution list.  My name isn’t even on the email.  It just states “If you’re interested in attending, the meeting…”

[3] No agenda. Never schedule a meeting without a written agenda.
A meeting without an agenda will just wander aimlessly, until you run out of time or someone kicks you out of the room.

[4] No predefined leader, is running the meeting.  Zombies don’t have leaders.  They usually group into a horde.  If there is no leader, the meeting will just drift.

[5] No predefined note taker, identified to document action items or take notes.  It should not be the same person.  Both [4] and [5] should know their roles before the meeting begins and it can’t be the same person.  Ever go to a meeting with the intent of being an active participant only to be asked to take notes or lead the meeting, a few minutes into the meeting?  It will totally change your focus.

[6] Discussion points do not align to the agenda. This part is challenging because you are already in the meeting.  You had no idea it was going to turn into a zombie meeting, before accepting.  These is no easy way out.  If the conversation drifts off topic, either recommend taking the discussion to another forum or start thinking of an exit strategy.

[7] Meeting ends without having the note taker read back discussion points and the action items. Make sure there is a consensus before the meeting ends.  If you see meetings ending without a review, add it to the agenda.

[8] Meeting minutes are not sent out within one to two days. Did the meeting even happen?  If the minutes are not distributed and approved, then it is like it never happened. Use a distribution list to ensure all necessary people get a copy.

[9] Meeting starts late. If you don’t start on time, you can’t finish on time.  Zombies are in no hurry.  Those who will arrive late should just call in, rather than disrupt the meeting.  I’m not saying you should board up the room entrance with plywood or anything.  It’s just rude to arrive late to a meeting.  If you stick to a schedule and you know the meeting will be a zombie meeting, calling in or use something like GoToMeeting to help shield yourself from the zombies.

[10] There is food. I’m not referring to a cup of coffee or a scone.  If there is a food, get it distributed and get it out of the room.  Whenever I go to a meeting where there is some kind of food tray, there are always a few attendees who will graze.  They’re thinking more about the food than they are about the meeting.

Like the drawing?  You can find the original for free at Pictofigo


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Real Time Reputation Scores On Twitter


When Twitter launched their list feature recently, I immediately wondered if #FollowFriday was going to go the way of the dinosaur.

For those out there not using Twitter, you have the power to “follow” people of interest and see what they are saying.  By following people of similar personal or professional interests, you get an idea of what is happening in real time.

As you begin to follow people, you are exposed to more and more who can really offer interesting things to say.

Because I wanted to read about what’s new in Tech, I followed Leo Laporte, founder of the TWiT® Netcast Network. Because I wanted to read about entrepreneurs and start-ups, I followed Jason Calacanis, founder of Mahalo.com.  Because I wanted to read about Project Management, I followed Dave Garrett, CEO of Gantthead.com.  Granted, I didn’t just go out and follow them at random.  I followed others and patiently waited for Friday to arrive to see who they would recommend to Follow.  Though I enjoy this organic process of discovery, it is not particularly efficient.  Though the introduction of lists has allowed me to see similar people in large numbers, there is no guarantee it is nothing more then a popularity contest.

Who shall I follow and who shall I recommend to follow?  Alas, I am but one person.  Who am I to suggest who you should follow and who you should not? I will yield my recommendation to one I consider superior in the decision making process.  I yield to what James Surowiecki termed the Wisdom of the Crowd and a nice webapp created by The Plan Is.

It appears The Plan Is tracks all tweets tagged with #pmot and uses them to update a list of the most influential project managers on Twitter. Updates are calculated continuously and new results are displayed every 5 minutes. They won’t tell you how the scores are calculated, as that would make it too easy to game the system.  It appears ranking is based on the number of followers, volume of tweets being retweeted, and the number of lists appeared on.  I may be wrong.  But, the list appears pretty accurate.  Go on Twitter and look at the hashtag #pmot.  If you say (tweet) something interesting, it gets retweeted.  If people like to read what you’re tweeting, you’ll get followed.  What I like about this dynamic reputation score is there are NOT people out there tweeting “vote for me, vote for me”.  It just seems to work.

So, you’re a new Project Manager, Scrum Master, Agile aficionado, or Kanban practitioner on Twitter.  Who do you follow?  Who has the best reputation, from the crowd point of view?  Follow the links below and find out.

Project Managers on Twitter

  1. DaveG253: 2175 points
  2. francisojsaez: 1800 points
  3. projectmgmt: 1685 points
  4. ProjectShrink: 1400 points
  5. Qtask: 1400 points
  6. JohnEstrella: 1135 points
  7. pmstudent: 1100 points
  8. franciscojsaez: 980 points
  9. thesambarnes: 915 points
  10. PM_StrayDogg: 835 points

If you would like to see a list from an Agile perspective, there’s a list for that as well.

Note:  The 10 Project Managers in the list above were dynamically generating at the time of this post.