Why do programmers dislike meetings?

Posted by Andy Gavin on Thu, 2009-07-23 11:02

Paul Graham has written a interesting explaining why programmers dislike meetings. After reading it it is easy to wonder why the reasons are not explained more often. He explains that development, or the creation of most things, manages time differently. Creation often needs longer periods of concentration where managers generally schedule meetings in hour slots: filling the day with different meetings. Attending meetings costs the programmer more in lost productivity as it can break concentration. Paul gives names to these two views of time: Maker's Schedule and Managers Schedule. Good technical managers and experienced developers know this. Some managers however, view developer's reluctance to turn up to meetings or early/late hours as an oddity or even something akin to anarchy when often it is for very practical reasons.

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i think meetings are a bit of a modern invention by managers to feel important without doing any work which has become even worse with the adoption of the teleconference where most people in attendance arent paying attention. Good managers should still be makers and on the same time.

There is a stereotype of a meeting, one in which meetings are held as a kind of politicking or naively assuming that having top-level meetings will solve intractable problems. I found the two different schedules proposal interesting, obviously it is an extreme view, but quite a valid one. Organisations, in my view, should always be driven by production. Whatever that company makes should be in everyone's mind: meetings are often bureaucracy. Meetings themselves are not bad, good programmers hold meetings all the time. For me there is a balance between adhocracy and bureaucracy. It is probably also worth saying that the software industry is relatively lucky in it's ability to use new management techniques: both because it is able to use new communication mediums and because software as a product is incrementally changeable.

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