I used to be awed at people travelling places to meet people, to deliver discourses (or gyan of sorts), make decisions, close deals et al. And since I was restricted to offshore, I felt alienated from the real work. And so a struggle ensued for a while. I wanted to feel the real thing.My current assignment took me to places, that covers the most obscure of towns and villages, where the factories are established, where a lot of back end activity takes place. I also got to know of people, their attitudes and how different they are when compared to the urban corporate. I have always loved meetings, for they disclose more than what people want to. While I was used to decisions being taken during such gatherings, the situation was so very different. People can start at one topic, and this continues in a new direction. It is as if the company promotes creativity, and clash of ideas. Unfortunately, 90% of these are out of context, and hence the meeting goes uncontrolled, resulting in little outcome.

The key to conducting effective meetings is to have an agenda in place, and a leader (or a moderator) to control the direction. As with a ship, this captain needs to make sure random signals are stubbed at that level. This is something strongly lacking in such situations. There is no scheduled time, place or agenda for meetings, and they can use meetings to chit chat, have fun with the idea of “baad mein dekhenge”. The time never comes, and everybody runs for a quickfix.

The key is to have the leadership of certain individuals who can appreciate good ideas, while stifling the bad ones. I have been trying to do this with a fair amount of success. The real world isn’t that alien any more. I may not be closing deals yet, that should follow soon.