Chicago Tribune: The wrath of Kim … and other reasons to hate meetings


By Chicago Tribune



SEPT. 5, 2016 — North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un recently ordered the execution by firing squad of a top government official for unspecified high crimes and misdemeanors against the state. Deputy Premier Kim Yong Jin, 63, was dispatched in a blaze of fire from an anti-aircraft gun, a South Korean newspaper reports.

What infraction prompted the supreme leader’s ire?

Some accounts suggest that Kim Yong Jin dozed off during a meeting with He Who Is Not To Be Trifled With. Although maybe Kim Jong Un instead found fault with the deputy’s reported “disrespectful posture.” Was he slouching? Pouting? Unclear. The JoonAng Ilbo newspaper’s epilogue: “He was arrested on-site and intensively questioned by the state security ministry. He was executed after other charges, such as corruption, were found during the probe.”

Whatever his capital crime, Kim Yong Jin now becomes a global object of sympathy among all those millions of suffering, sleep-tempted minions trapped in interminable meetings that meander this way and that, sapping from its participants the very will to live.

Show of hands:

Who hasn’t nodded off as a meeting droned into its second hour?

Who hasn’t imagined a nice pillow and comfy bed while a co-worker prattled on about his or her stellar achievements in a desperate attempt to impress the boss, who, truth be told, seemed drowsy herself?

Who hasn’t surreptitiously checked a smartphone or played a game in a fevered if dangerous bid to keep … eyelids … open.

Zzzzz … Huh? OK, right, back to the editorial.

Kim Jong Un isn’t the only dear leader who demands stern-faced attention at meetings.

American workers have told pollsters they’d opt to watch paint dry or undergo a root canal instead of being trapped in a go-nowhere meeting.

In the past we’ve cheered smart thinkers who innovated ways to reduce the inevitable meeting creep and veer. There’s the walking meeting, espoused by tech titans Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. A fine idea — we get some of our best ideas while walking — but assembling a meeting outdoors assumes the weather cooperates.

Another idea: Everyone stands. That way, no one gets too comfortable. Purportedly that helps meetings move along at a rapid clip, eliminating distractions and digressions. Several years ago a Sears exec with a military background tried this. Meetings got shorter. More crisp.

But some people complain that even standing meetings can stretch on for an hour or more.

And standing can make you tired. It can provoke foot and leg problems.

Note to standing-meeting bosses: The point isn’t to stand for very long. The point is to dispense with all the pleasantries, fripperies, self-promotional gasbaggery, diatribes, passive-aggressive snipes and GET TO THE POINT of why the meeting was called in the first place. You should leave a meeting energized, ready to Get Something Done. Not staggering for another Venti at Starbucks.

If bosses can’t limit meetings they at least should provide roll-up napping mats for employees. That way, workers will be refreshed and ready to go when the dithering and digressing … finally … ends.

By Chicago Tribune

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