Meetings in Israel have many unique characteristics: loose agendas, going out on a tangent most of time, argument, reopening of decisions, debating for debating sake and yes-but-ism.
There is yet but another challenge (for the non Israeli) in our meetings, and that is the frequent coming and going in/out of the meeting room.
The latter is the subject of this post.
Today, I stood outside the Lord Balfour Room and asked those coming in/going out of the room what their story was. The meeting in Balfour was scheduled to start at 1000 AM. It started at 1017.
At 10.22, Alisa and Fatima came into the room. They were both on the same train that ran late; both mentioned that the air-conditioning on the train was malfunctioning and thus, they had stopped to get a bottle of water with ice before entering the room. The ladies asked me to carry in the ice bucket.
At 10.27, Maor left the meeting room, because his son had called him to ask if he could have the car in the afternoon, and if so at what time. “And Dad, by the way…” Maor went back in at 1040.
Sivan left the room at 10.42 to take a call from her Dad’s doctor, for which she had been waiting for 3 weeks.
Miki, Simon and Iggie had a double booked meeting and arrived at 1045.
CFO Riki left the room 3 times: once to speak to a supplier who had not been paid; once to field a call from a board member and once to smoke.
The meeting which was supposed to end at 1130 ended at 12.30, so lunch was ordered in and the discussion went on for another hour, even though a third of the people invited had left.
Why does this happen?
1 Personal issues can be dealt with on company time.
2 Immediate responsiveness is more valued than keeping to the plan.
3 People multi task all the time as a way of life and if there is a gap, they retro fix it.
4 Keeping to plan/schedule has some espoused importance but other things are “equally important” and everyone must decide his/her priorities. Besides that, shit happens.
5 Some of the decisions that were made in the meeting can be revisited by people who were not in the meeting when the decisions were made, so lack of discipline is complemented by lack of consequence-all of which is compensated by deep commitment and willingness to do everything to get the job done! 🙂
Is this chaos? Yes for the outsider; No for the local. Why? That’s another post.