I just watched this video from TEDx by Jason Fried, co-founder of 37signals, a web productivity company, and author of several books on productivity, creativity and work:

His thoughts on the matter…meetings and managers are the root of productivity loss in today’s workplace. It’s a pretty compelling message—that managers (all of us have them, many of us are them) and meetings (no matter where you work…no doubt you’ve got them) are not just failing to boost productivity and results but are actually making us less productive. In many ways, I think he’s right…he says that he’s asked people where and when they do real work, and the answers are usually somewhere away from people and where they can have uninterrupted time. I know that works for me…I love getting on an airplane, because there’s no internet, no distractions and I know I’ve got several hours to hammer away. I’m like a machine.

However, I’m not ready to just give up meetings (or managers for that matter). Here’s why—not everyone works in the same ways. Some people are simply wired to need meetings – whether they fall outside of the traditional scope or not. We take individualized thinking and behavioral preferences to heart at our company (obviously, since this is what we do here at Emergenetics International) and that means realizing that a no meetings and completely unfettered day might work for some employees, like those who have their day planned out with structure and logic and who have an Assertive drive toward their tasks and goals.

But it’s probably not going to work for a different employee—like a person with a preference for relational thinking and a high degree of Expressiveness. These folks crave attention, want feedback and need interaction…and it goes beyond sending emails or chats. It’s face-time and its critical.

The key for me is less about doing away with managers and meetings and more about zeroing in on unique work styles and approaches and tailoring a job fit for each person. Yes, it takes more work and is a little harder, but for every meeting you take away that builds productivity in some workers, you could be stifling another worker.

I’d certainly encourage you watch the entire video—it’s a compelling idea that I think can jumpstart higher productivity, more creativity and a new way of working. I’d also make sure you find your own unique style and the style of your employees.

Mark E. Miller
Director of Marketing