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Obsessed With Meetings
Real Clear Religion ^ | 11/20/12 | Father Robert Barron

Posted on 11/20/2012 7:01:11 AM PST by marshmallow

Just a few weeks ago, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. Accordingly, there has been a good deal of commentary from historians, theologians and even from the handful of bishops and experts who actually participated in the Council five decades ago.

I was particularly struck by an observation made by Fr. John O'Malley, the Jesuit historian who penned, some years ago, an influential book called What Happened at Vatican II? The Second Vatican Council, he said, was the largest meeting in the history of the world. Indeed, some 2,600 people -- bishops, theologians, observers and advisors -- gathered for months-long sessions between 1962 and 1965; they were setting agendas, debating, arguing, voting and resolving. In a word, they did all the things that people typically do at business meetings.

I will confess that O'Malley's insight produced quite an "a-ha!" moment in me. I came of age in the years just following Vatican II. I went to first grade in 1965, the year the Council ended, and my Catholic formation and seminary training all took place from the early '70s to the mid-'80s of the last century. This means that I was thoroughly immersed in a "Vatican II" culture.

Now, one of the marks of that period of ecclesiastical history (and this is why O'Malley's remark was so illuminating to me) was a preoccupation, even an obsession, with meetings. At the diocesan level, at the parish level, at seminaries, in regard to schools and hospitals, etc., Catholics met. As many have observed, bureaucracies burgeoned everywhere in the Church after Vatican II, and what are bureaucracies but structures established to facilitate meetings?

When I was a seminarian, I was invited by the leaders of my home parish to get a taste of parish life. Did.......

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TOPICS: Catholic; General Discusssion; Ministry/Outreach
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1 posted on 11/20/2012 7:01:12 AM PST by marshmallow
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To: marshmallow
Meetings for meeting's sake is a problem that seems endemic to large organizations. It's one of the reasons I've tended to work for small (<50 employees) companies during my career. At one point, I worked for a large regional bank (since swallowed up by PNC). We had bi weekly "status meetings" for a project, where upwards of 40 people would get together for an hour and essentially talk about nothing.

The major accomplishment was setting the schedule and topics for the next meeting. Every meeting wasted 40 person hours of time - the equivalent of a week's work of a single employee.

I just couldn't stand the waste, and as a person who takes pride in actually accomplishing real actions of value, when I started looking at how much time I spent spinning my wheels in planning meetings, status meetings, followup meetings, etc., I just couldn't see myself wasting a few decades of my life that way. Worse, my observation was that, the higher you rose in the company, the more time you spent either attending meetings or causing them to occur. There are actually people in large organizations whose sole function is to facilitate meetings, and the more the better. Meetings have become a substitute for action.

Yes, meetings have value, but for most companies, they are a collosal waste of time and resources, IMHO.
2 posted on 11/20/2012 8:17:43 AM PST by chrisser (Starve the Monkeys!)
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