Let's skip right to a random topic - let's call it a brief rant about meetings. How often are meetings an efficient use of each attendees time?
The answer, of course, depends on the topic, the organizer, and the attendees. I've been to way too many agendaless meetings with the wrong people invited. Many people plan for this and bring their laptops to meetings and use the dead time to check email (or ebay). I've even seen people instant message other people in the same meeting! It's an unfortunately rare event where I attend a meeting where I leave thinking it was an efficient use of my time - furthermore, most "senior" managers spend 6 or more hours a day in meetings. Some of these people, are actually proud they spend so much of their time in meetings - I guess it makes them feel important...?
I would know - I've been a manager, and I'm "senior enough" that I get invited to a lot of meetings. I value my time so much, however, that I am discretionary as to which meetings I attend. If there's no agenda or scheduled objective, I usually don't go (I do give the organizer a chance to provide this information if it isn't in the invitation). I will also walk out of meetings if they're filled with dead space or are otherwise not a good use of my time. I rarely bring my laptop to meetings - if I attend a meeting I want to participate. If everyone else in the meeting is reading email or web surfing, I'll go back to my office and get some real work done.
Should meetings be abolished? Of course not! The process of getting a group of smart people together to solve a problem can not be undervalued. Below are a few guidelines I like to use to increase the potential value of meetings.
My rant is over - comments welcome.