PG's Tips for Survival at the RHN

SIDNEY MEETS A CAMEL - Facing Meetings

It is often said that the camel was a horse designed by a committee. Every establishment, company, business or group must have at least one committee.

We are all familiar with the 'Agenda' for meetings, recorded by the 'Secretary'. Called the 'Minutes', someone has put on each Ward's noticeboard this encouraging note which asks all to 'please replace minutes after use'. Minutes invariably comprise most of the following elements:

Meeting held on ... Those present; Apologies for absence; Minutes of the last meeting read; Matters arising (jobs left undone); Items for discussion (submitted to the Secretary prior to the meeting) and almost finally, A. O. B. which the professional meeting-ocrat will whittle down to a bare minimum. An unskilled 'chairperson' - for Sidney knew what was 'pc' - would let this last section drag on. Finally, there would be the Date of the next meeting.

Sidney felt it was necessary to outline the above, in order to highlight the predictability of the game-plan involved.

There are those people, Sidney observed, who thrive on committees. They are professionals, who drift from one meeting to another, clipboards or papers clutched under their arms. That, together with a purposeful stride, gives an air of importance! Add to that the comment that they 'can't stop, sorry. Got to go to a meeting!' leave you in no doubt - THE MEETING is more important than you are.

Communication is of course essential to any large company or establishment. It's vital to the well-being of all, and Sidney was not blind to that fact. He knew that without meetings, places of work, or even pleasure (such as the local Birdwatchers Group) would soon fall apart if there wasn't some form of a committee to run it. What he objected to was when the 'tail' began to 'wag the dog' - when meetings came before the people who they are intended to represent or for whom they care.

Sidney had seen too many camels for his liking!

Written by Peter Gow (Chatsworth)
May 2001

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