The Outlook Calendar that called me to the almost inevitably useless meetings usually had Accept/Decline buttons but the Decline was a trap; turn down a meeting and at best I’d be informed that attendance was mandatory. A “code review,” checking a box that there had been one, where the attendees came straight from the printer and were flip-flip-flipping through the code for the first time and looking for formatting practices, certainly of no use in critiquing the code.

I’ve written elsewhere here about Flow and the early days of our craft where the need to minimize interruptions was central to the company culture, and how quickly this changed.

Last time I talked to a developer at Microsoft, where not a single one of my friends and former coworkers still works, he told me that he had 20 hours of meetings every week, most of them recurring, and most of the rest frivolities held by someone seeking to increase his “visibility.” That’s nothing compared to Intel where three-day meetings were common, achieving nothing, and where I was the only attendee weighing under 300 pounds and having to watch the others scarf down one sugary doughnut after another.

I burned the bridge with Microsoft when during the funeral of my father my phone buzzed three times with meeting “requests,” and accepting these was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. After the so called “code review” I had my introduction to pair programming and resigned my position the following morning.

It’s not enough to elevate awareness here; software companies are run by people who have never coded and to whom a meeting is a productive use of time and resistance is insubordinate. When Brian Valentine told us to do our Vista development on Vista (“Longhorn”) itself we refused collectively; they couldn’t fire us all.

On my most recent gig I worked as the server developer on a distributed team, we had one hour-long TFS meeting per week, lasting an hour. That was, and is, enough.

And, oh, no morning stand ups. They are useless.

Written by

American Software Developer living in Vietnam. Classical musician (guitar, woodwinds), weightlifter, multilingual, misanthrope • XY

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