Monday, August 16, 2010

Fake Software Tester’s Guide to attend meetings…

The title to this post tells what this post is all about. A common scenario as you grow up the perceived corporate ladder would be a need to attend a lot of meetings. Once you grow above the managerial level, plan to attend at least 4 hrs a day in non-productive meetings. And some of these meetings, you would have to attend even though you have no idea on what it is all about. And this post is about surviving such meetings.

Listed below are a few survival tips for such meetings – wherein you don’t have an idea on the topic being discussed.

1) The sandwich Blackberry method
A large sandwich and a blackberry can be your saviors. Walk into the meeting with a large sandwich and constantly, keep fiddling on your blackberry for the entire duration of the meeting. Walk out of the room every 10 minutes to attend to that very important phone call and keep walking back inside. You can be rest assured you won't be troubled by anyone for the duration of the meeting.

2) The copy-Paste method
Before the meeting, grab your team member who's attending it and ask him on what he's going to talk about. Ask him a few questions and ensure that you remember all his answers. Send him off on any errand to ensure that he doesn't attend the meeting. Now, re-state whatever he's told you and answer the same questions that you've asked him. Nobody would disturb you after you've made your point.

3) The Magic words
Remember these words - Bottom Line, Bird's eye view, Revisit, Thinking Hat, out of the box, Paradigm, Game Plan, win-win, Leverage, etc.
The trick is to pick 2 words from above and form a sentence, at any time during the meeting. Some examples I have are below:-

a) Guys, it's time to put on the thinking hats to think of a win-win proposal
b) Folks, let's come up with an out-of-the-box solution, which is pro-active and leverages our strengths.
c) The Bottom Line is that we need to revisit if we are doing things the right way. Take a step back to have a Bird's eye view of the solution.

You can try this exercise yourself and within a few practice tries, you'd become a master at it. You can create such statements from these words randomly and you'd sound like a veteran of senior management.

4) The Blame-it-on-others Method
Start off a conversation at the beginning of the meeting to talk about bad food in the canteen, rising fuel bills, lack of facilities in the company, bad candidates lined up by HR for interview, unrealistic client demands, etc...

5) Google will help you
If it's a meeting about a product evaluation, do a vigorous Google search 1 hr before the meeting. Scribble notes from all over the internet and present them as your viewpoint. Mostly, nobody would know and you can escape unscathed.

And my pick goes to the method described below... the best thing to do is....
6) Being honest
Yes. The last way is honesty. Stand up and tell everyone that you will be unable to provide any justice by your attendance, since you have no idea on what's being discussed. Tell everyone that you think you'd be better off doing something productive, than be a part of it and walk out. That's not something that happens very often, but I guess it's the most honest way.

If you can think of more such practices, I'd be happy to hear them and it would be great if you can post them in the comments section!!!

Well, what about those telephonic meetings that you need to dial in to attend??? Well, save that thought.... more on those another day!!!

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