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A Developer's Guide to Surviving Meetings  (View post)

Randy Charles Morin [PersonRank 1]

Thursday, July 6, 2006
17 years ago10,280 views

We use to play Buzzwords Bingo in 2000. Our architect was a big-time bullshitter who over-used big buzzwords to confuse people. The trick was that you had to say Bingo so that everyone could hear in order to win. We eventually got clever and used bingo in sentences to throw off the scent.

OREO [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

Thank you for the guide, Philipp!

Taiwanese Hank [PersonRank 1]

17 years ago #

I'm not an IT worker but...LOL!

Ringbark [PersonRank 1]

17 years ago #

I believe that the developer owes it to hm/herself and to the non-developers to raise the question of "but why would you?" in the short meetings.
Far too many developers answer the question that they are asked and don't ask the others why they want to do something dumb. Apparently "it's our job to do what they want" even if it's patent nonsense. Now, if the non-developers refuse to listen, which also happens too often, that's a different matter.

Longinus [PersonRank 1]

17 years ago #

Ehehwh really nice survivor guide :)

Ramibotros [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

seeems similar to being in class

Art-One [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

Is this guide part of Scrum? (LOL)

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

How true! The number of times I've replied to the "Is it possible..." question with something like, "Almost everything is possible; how long are you willing to give me?"

Another scenario I'm often faced with:

Them: How long would it take to develop ... (followed by some super-vague description that tells me absolutely nothing)

Me: I'm not sure. That would depend on what exactly is required.

Them: We don't know yet.

Me: OK. Probably around 2 weeks then, but that depends on what's exactly required.

Them: 2 weeks!?! We were thinking it should be more like 1 week.

Me: OK. 1 week then, but that depends on what's exactly required.

(One day they'll notice that it's always the same...)

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

The original version of Buzzword Bingo works like this:

Every developer in the meeting has the SAME bingo card. As soon as the last piece of jargon is crossed off the card, they all stand up together and shout "Bullshit".

You can imagine the dramatic impact of this.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

Them: Can it be done in 1 week?
You: It depends how many bugs you want in it...


Them: Can you tell us exactly how long it will take?
You: If I would be able to tell you that, it would take 1 hour as I'd just use my code libraries...


Them: Can you do it in 1 week?
You: Depends on whether I can shut the door that week...


Them: We want to export Word as XML for print-outs, is it possible?
You: Why would you wanna do that?
Them: We want to scan the XML to send them over to the other agency.
You: Why would you wanna do that?
Them: They have OCR so they can convert the scans to text files to send them back to us.
You: Why would you wanna do that?
Them: ... (and so on)

Better to have a developer attend the meeting right from the start :)

/pd [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

"...a call on your phone that can’t wait.” You’ll excuse yourself and leave the meeting. "

That always works for me.. except if my boss is in the same meeting :)-

Skippy Wasserman [PersonRank 0]

17 years ago #

What you need is a derailer. It's a question that seems pertinant and reasonable but has no answer other than to throw the meeting completely off track and convince everyone in the room that the threat of public stupidity is sufficient and reasonable enough to prevent future meetings.

For example, if asked if it's possible to convert excel to XML and print, say "Wouldn't a better approach be to collect and manipulate the data in a structured XML format from the beginning so that we can leverage the tools and processes and make a seamless integration to the eventual end system and reduce process and middle system issues?"

Carl [PersonRank 0]

17 years ago #

You forgot "Play solitaire on your PDA." That's my preferred approach.

Coder [PersonRank 1]

17 years ago #

If I'm invited to a meeting where non-tech folks are going to talk about non-tech things and want the technical staff around just-in-case, I'll take my laptop to the meeting and code. I actually find this kind of meeting to be quite productive, as long as nobody asks me too many questions. You just have to keep an ear out in case tech issues arise.

Kevin [PersonRank 0]

17 years ago #

A game we used to play back before the dawn of time (1987) was meeting scrabble. The person who can use the largest scoring word (in context) wins.

Brian Orpheus [PersonRank 0]

17 years ago #

My favorite trick for surviving long meetings is to play categories. Pick a category: bands, tv shows, movies, what have you. Try to think of 3-5 items in the category that start with A, then B, and so on. The advantage is that you always look thoughtful, interested, and attentive, even if you're trying to think of a fifth band that starts with Q.

If you can get a subset of the team to play, another winner is to pick a word and see who can use it in the meeting first. Words like "leverage" or "maximize" are easy, but "roller derby", "infested" or "nanotechnology" can be a real challenge.

Sanjay [PersonRank 1]

17 years ago #

90% of my meetings are actually conference calls...I usually mute the phone, put one headphone in my ear (The other ear is listenin' to the call). Then, mute the phone, and continue whatever you were doing. It's almost like not being in a meeting. That said, I usually say about 2 words.

Rupert Pupkin [PersonRank 0]

17 years ago #

I'm personally a fan of anagramming.

Harvey [PersonRank 0]

17 years ago #

For the phone call excuse, just schedule an e-mail to your cel-phone during your meeting. Make sure your text message alert sounds like a ringer. For T-mobile, email PHONE_NUMBER[put at-character here], e.g. 9995551212[put at-character here] The other networks all have similar address structures.

In Outlook (mine is 2000):

1. create a new e-mail to your cel phone
2. Choose Properties from the File menu
3. Choose the Send Options button
4. Choose the Microsoft Exchange Server tab
5. Set the time under "Send this item"

*OR* find one of those reminder websites and set an e-mail reminder there. Although, pray they never get hacked and you phone's e-mail address is taken

mike [PersonRank 0]

17 years ago #

I did a buzzword bingo game in Flash/Central.. for a few good laughs.

Bobo [PersonRank 1]

17 years ago #

My advice is to find a company that has people that will respect and even be impressed when you say "my time is much better spent working than being in a meeting in which I can't contribute". If not, then I agree with "do work". Sketch out a solution to some problem that you're working on.

Eric [PersonRank 0]

17 years ago #

Arg, my colleage forwarded this to me while I was in a long, drawn-out, and overly excruciating needless to say it came too late. Definitely good stuff to have on hand for my next all day meeting.

Elias KAI [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

Thanks Philipp

philg [PersonRank 0]

17 years ago #

that's so f****d up
funny but f***d up
if you still think of people in your company as good developper vs evil braindead non developper you haven't got a job for much longer unless you take a one way ticket to India.
The reality is that the pure developper blisfully unaware of busness/marketing environment is dead, finish, kaput, no longer exist, time to move on dude.

Mark Draughn [PersonRank 5]

17 years ago #

Those brief meetings are great if they pull you in for a technical question, but at the wrong company they suck really bad if it's a budget question. I've been pulled into meetings to give a rough estimate on a programming task and then found out 6 months later that someone had engraved my answer in stone and I'm getting yelled at for not meeting it.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

> if you still think of people in your company as good
> developper vs evil braindead non developper you
> haven't got a job for much longer

The "developer" distinction, at least in the jobs I worked on (and I don't work in a company anymore), was mostly imposed from others. You know, "developers can't be creative" or "developers can't design" or "developers ought not to be in strategic meetings" and so on. I seriously had a secretary in my second job who thought that starting to program at an early age would kill one's creativity. For me, people either have good taste and common sense or not, be they labeled as designers, developers, writers and what-not... and the coolest people usually create synergies between the "different" crafts.

Kevin Scaldeferri [PersonRank 0]

17 years ago #

"Probably around 2 weeks then, but that depends on what's exactly required."

1.5 weeks later,

Them: So, how's X coming?

You: Huh?

Them: You told us it would take 2 weeks.

You: Yeah, but you never actually gave us any requirements, and even if you had, that would be 2 weeks after someone started working on it, and we have a 6 month backlog of projects.

Them: But we told everyone it would launch next week. The press release just went out.

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #

<< Them: But we told everyone it would launch next week. The press release just went out. >>

Kevin Scaldeferri, do you work for the same company as me by any chance?


Andy [PersonRank 0]

17 years ago #

Another one if you wear glasses;

Cut out a pair of eyes from a photo in a magazine and stick them to the back of the glasses so it looks like you're awake – close your eyes and sleep the meeting off!

time suck [PersonRank 0]

17 years ago #

sounds like google has the curse of the 900 lb gorilla. turnover and reorgs are your friend.

bud [PersonRank 0]

17 years ago #

cingular actualy has a service that will call you for just such an occasion. of corse, there is a charge.

Chris [PersonRank 0]

17 years ago #

Them: We need a new page added to the web site.

Us: When do you need it by?

Them: Uh... we just printed up promotion postcards that has the URL on it and mailed 5,000 of them yesterday.

Us: Why didn't you ask us to create the page BEFORE you created any print materials?

Them: 'Cause it's the web. You can do that in, like, an hour right? No big deal (walks away)...

Us: Picking up nearest item to throw at "them"...

Jake's View [PersonRank 10]

17 years ago #


Susan [PersonRank 0]

17 years ago #

There's a Bullshit Bingo web site. You can refresh the page to print a different card for each person. You can print out bingo cards and bring them to the meeting with you. Or, if you have access to the 'net during your meeting, you can play online.

Susan [PersonRank 0]

17 years ago #

From that same web site, you can also access Buzzword Bingo and Marketing Bingo. Tons o' fun!

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