The meeting from hell

  1. Keep quiet.
  2. No, really: Shut the hell up. You cannot possibly improve things. Just let the train-wreck slide to a halt and enjoy the scenery.
  3. Smile!
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8 Responses to The meeting from hell

  1. Me says:

    Oh, you were there, too?

    The worst part is years later, when you could say “I told you so” but instead are the person stuck cleaning up the mistakes of others who have since been promoted past accountability.

    • Mike Albaugh says:

      Actually, the worst part is when, years later, you are in a deposition and opposing counsel drops an alleged transcript of the meeting, signed by your company’s top lawyer, that has you making the fatal suggestion.

  2. $mike cremer says:

    According to cognitive scientists, there are several modes of learning. Usually they are described as visual (reading, seeing) contrasted with kinesthetic (doing, experiencing), the distinction drawn as some things cannot be taught but must be experienced.

    Sometimes one must let consequences do the teaching.

  3. bill says:

    Some meetings are like the scene in Catch-22 where the lieutenant is begging the troops to tell him something, and Yossarian’s in the ranks murmuring that no, he really didn’t want to know. Or the Sam Goldwyn quote that he wanted to know the truth, even if it cost the truth-teller his job.

  4. Ian Farquhar says:

    No, there’s worse.

    It’s when you’re sitting there in stage (3), vapidly smiling, and trying not to hear what is being said because you know it will only upset you and lower your already glacial opinion of the other participants in the meeting.

    And despite your best effort, that little part of your brain which recognizes your own name is jumping up and down yelling “your name… they’re saying your name…”

    With growing horror, you realize that the purpose of the meeting is for the people who completely screwed up whatever the meeting is about to transfer responsibility for that disaster to you. Everyone in the meeting wants YOU to fix it.

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, is when you experience true fear.

    Although yes, Mike’s one is probably just as bad. In fact, having known him for over twenty years now, I’m pretty sure I can guess just what the said transcript said and the case it was in. 😉

  5. landon says:

    @Ian: If my name enters the picture, I know how to deal with it.

    “Oh, how are we going to test it?”

    or, “Where is the spec? Are there written requirements?”

    or, in case of dire emergency: “Has a security review been done on this yet?”

    This last one is nearly guaranteed deflection, with a “committee on that” which you can depend on to waste three or four weeks generating threat models and rousting up Q/A types about fuzzing tools.

    • I like those. I believe I’ve used several of those deflection techniques. Successfully, even.

      Actually, my most effective response to one of those “we need to do x” (where we means yours truly) was to respond thusly:


      “What do you mean, ‘no‘ ???”

      “I mean, I’m going to go create my own mess for others to clean up. Just like you did.”

      I left the company shortly thereafter.

    • Ian Farquhar says:

      A security review guaranteed to kill anything?

      Damn, the secret legion of security professionals will be so pissed that our darkest secret is out!

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