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Next-Generation Meeting: Musings from the Corner Office

Forgive any typos—I’m thumbing my way through another marathon meeting. Thank God it’s become completely acceptable to BlackBerry during every meeting, or this Bitch would be face down on the Formica right about now. Welcome to the actual virtual meeting, a time to come together and work apart.

It used to be that all the c-schleps at least pretended to hide the fact that they were paying zero attention, head down as if contemplating to the boss’s latest words of wisdom, while in reality they were all tapping the BlackBerry below the line. Slowly, surreptitiously, seductively … click, click, clicking. 

Then, somewhere around the time BlackBerrys broke the VP barrier and went mainstream, every meeting evolved /eroded into multi-tasking melee. Now it’s completely A-OK to BlackBerry away right in the middle of the meeting, showing everyone how important—and indifferent—you really are. 

Ironically, meetings have become far more productive now that we aren’t actually forced to pay attention. Back in the B3 era (Before BlackBerry), meeting agendas read like prison sentences and served more as doodle pads than anything else. Think back to those bygone days of highly accomplished and highly compensated high-level managers writing their names over and over in bubble letters and drawing stars and intricate patterns … But I digress. 

Now I regularly go to meetings where the only time people really put their CrackBerrys down is when it is their turn to speak, and of course no one else is really listening, so it would be more effective to send an email to the rest of the room anyway.

And so we sit together right now, in this very meeting, for the most part ignoring each other completely. Okay, so the head of biz dev and the new tramp from legal are clearly engaged in some kind of coy cyber commentary—both in turn look down, click, scroll, smile, reply, look up, repeat … But other than that, no one else bothers to put on a show of being interested in anything happening in this room.

Which is why I just realized I’m still sitting here, alone with my CrackBerry and a few colleagues. Who knows how long ago the meeting officially ended? 

“Very productive,” someone says.

And how!  In just over an hour, I’ve booked dates with my colorist, stylist, therapist, trainer, and boyfriend. When’s the next meeting?

Remember, if you don’t have anything nice to say, my door is always open …

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