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November 15, 2006

D.F.’s Cure for Boring Meetings


“Try to imagine the intersection of three triangles,” says Colby the Consultant. “Most CEOs understand the perimeters, but the intersecting regions are where they are most vulnerable to organizational paradigms that dilute their corporate development.”


Colby is explaining what his consulting practice does because he wants me to help him with something. He’s willing to pay me. A customer. I need to pay attention to what he is saying.

But he is boring me. He just compared something he does to “tying flies.” I’ve been taking notes on my laptop, and as I endeavor to type “tying flies” it occurs to me that if I review these notes later and see that expression, I will neither know nor care what it is supposed to mean.




What is going on at www.idlechatter.com? Colby can’t see my laptop screen. He’ll never know. Who’s online? There’s Rectangular, MadMarvin, CabDriver73, Bobalooey and lots of others.


“Welcome back, InsaneCEO. Post new topic?”


Sure. New topic title: “Have you ever posted during a business meeting?”


Text for message: “That's what I'm doing right now. Guy across from me is a prospective client for my services. He thinks I am typing notes but I am really posting to the board. He is going on and on about whatever his consulting practice does and he has no idea.”


Colby continues on:


“You see, D.F., what I’ve hit on here is really an alignment shifter. You know about the Incendiary Principles, of course.”


Yes. Yes. Of course. The Incendiary Principles. Who doesn’t know about those?


I check the board. MadMarvin wants to know what Colby’s tie looks like. Bobalooey, who has been to my office, wonders how he likes the pictures on the wall.


“Get this,” I tell the board. “He’s going on about something called the Incendiary Principles. Does anyone know what that is? He seems to think I should know. What am I, a theorist?”


Rectangular posts: “Let us know if you get the gig! You can buy us lunch!”


Uh oh. Emergency! Colby is coming around to look at my computer. “Go to www.convolutedmanagementtheories.com,” he says! “Let’s look at it together!”


Quick. Open a new window of Internet Explorer.


Of course. Of course. Management theories dot com. Let’s look at it.


It shows some video of some guy in a meeting acting like an idiot. At the end of the video, the others in the meeting look at him funny.


“See?” Colby says. “That is the essence of this principle. It’s like the Elephant and the Slide Rule, which you’re of course familiar with.”


He goes back to his chair on the other side of the conference table. Back to www.idlechatter.com.


“Close call! He came around to look at my computer! Almost busted, but I was too quick. Anyone ever heard of the Elephant and the Slide Rule principle?”


MadMarvin says Colby is making this stuff up. CabDriver73 is checking Wikipedia and can’t find anything. SultrySusan joins the discussion.


“Hey, InsaneCEO! I’ve been in meetings with you. Were you posting to the board then, too?”


Of course I was. Who wants to listen to anything SultrySusan has to say?


Colby wraps up the discussion: “Well, maybe together we can move beyond tying these flies and start putting them in front of some fish.”


I nod my head.


“It’s all in my notes, Colby,” I assure him. And it is. Preserved for posterity.


I inform the idle chatters that the meeting is over. They are very disappointed that they will not be able to benefit from any more of Colby’s wisdom. I sympathize, but seriously – I have work to do.


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