I heard an interview on Marketplace several month back with Mike Cohn, the founder of Mountain Goat Software, that was all about "stand-up meetings".  The idea is to have a meeting standing up to encourage brevity and discourage distraction.


I dream of the day that I work for an organization that adopts this mentality.

In education we like to divide the day up into sections, usually about an hour long, with a few minutes of down time in between.  It keeps the students from getting bored; it gives them opportunities to socialize; it lets their teacher run to the bathroom.

We all recognize that students can't maintain their attention on a topic for an entire school day, unless that topic is a field trip to some place new and exciting. (Of course, as I type that, I.m having flashbacks to the field trip episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Xander and a group of bullies turn all hyena and eat the school mascot...and the school principal.  But I digress.)

So, it never ceases to annoy me when I find myself in full day meetings.  I'm talking 8-9 hours of sitting in the same room, with the same folks, rephrasing the same thoughts 50 different ways, or just generally complaining about issues that are honestly not going to be solved at the end of the day because the people in the room do not have the power to initiate the necessary fixes.

And, as if that isn't bad enough, 8 times out of 10 these days include a "working lunch" so we can make "more efficient use of our time".  Really?  More efficient?  What with the chewing and all?  Because there's lots of chewing in a room of a dozen or sometimes 2 dozen people who are eating cold sandwiches, which can barely be called a sandwich since they are mostly bread, with two slices of deli meat that no one can really distinguish as turkey or chicken, one limp piece of lettuce, and a rather pale looking slice of tomato.  Seriously.  The kids down the hall in the school cafeteria get better fixings than the adults in the room trying to change the shape of education as we know it.

Having spent my entire professional career in education, I am used to the demeaning form of the teacher lunch break.  20-30 minutes (45 if you are really lucky) during which you take care of all personal business, run copies, and down a couple of chicken strips before returning to the trenches.  You would think that when you finally have a day with no class bells and no taking of attendance, you could at least be allowed to go out to lunch for an hour or so like the rest of the professionals in the country.

Now, don't misunderstand me.  I don't have a problem with meetings that are important.  I don't take issue with a working lunch if that's the best time to hash out a plan for something.  But when you schedule and all day meeting with a working lunch built in. That is a violation of my constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

Today, to add insult to injury, I am having to take my own lunch to one of these working lunches.  Are?You? Kidding? Me?  You are going to lock me in a room for 8 hours, take away my only extended break, and then not even feed me?

I've been thinking of making a career change for a while now.  There are many folks I adore at my workplace, but there are many aspects of the job itself that are no longer or never have been satisfying.  Today is another one of those "Oprah moments" for me.  You know what I mean: the part of the story where Oprah's guest says something like, "At that moment I knew I had to change my life." or "That was the day I woke up and realized I couldn't live like that anymore."

Oh, Oprah.  You're not the only one looking for a change.

Most of the time the story continues with the teller going on a spiritual journey, or checking themselves into rehab, or waking up from a 2 year coma.  Mine will be slightly less dramatic.  Mine involves a bit of typing to update my resume.

Which I would not be able to do, were my meeting today being held standing up...