India has been on a high lately. And like most inebriated folk, the powers that be have been acting on instinct, with little thought for the consequences. I refer to the multitude of bans that have been issued forth, Spiderman-esque from the hands of decision makers.
Movies, language, food, style, humour – what an all-encompassing range of topics. I do feel, however, that the Ban Fans have isolated the advertising, design and communications industry. So many green signals have been given for industrial growth, yet not a single ban in place. Is this not a case of discrimination? Shouldn’t creative businesses also benefit from the aged wisdom of Bannists?
I therefore propose that we move to ban that most insidious, vulgar, and uninhibited creature that has corrupted our noble growth prospects – the meeting. Long have I harboured a prejudice against meetings, but until now I never felt secure enough to express my bias. (These intolerant times have fanned my extremist views.)
Allow me to elaborate.
Meetings are insidious: they sneak up on your productivity when you least expect it. Just as you feel like the deadline is within touching distance, the emergency ‘brainstorm’ pushes it to the horizon.
Meetings are vulgar: Have you ever known a senior team member to be fastidious in his views, moderate in his consumption of snacks, and careful in his handling of time, during any discussion within a confined space? The very act of closeting a bunch of non-consenting adults in a single room reeks of shadiness.
Meetings are uninhibited: they can strike at any time of the day/night. And neither is their frequency monitored. Meetings are allowed to run rampant through the halls. And to question their authority is to invite the wrath of the meeting devotee. (These are base level creatures that survive solely on their yes-man support of the meeting deity.)
So it is that like the dodo, the time has come for meetings to meet its end. And just as the wingless bird, it must be hunted down into oblivion. You can’t expect it to meet its end through natural selection. The typical meeting has become a parasite. Its behaviour is repetitive and seemingly impossible to alter.
Eliminating meetings will also simultaneously wipe out the sludge phrases that have become synonymous with the epidemic. These include, but are not restricted to: ‘brainstorm’, ‘action plan’, ‘plan of action’, ‘game plan’, ‘minutes of the meeting’, ‘open discussion’, ‘review meeting’, ‘feedback session’. Thus an entire eco-system of mediocrity shall be put to rest.
I know the adjustment may be hard for some. With literally hours opening up every day, the gaps in work hours will seem even wider than the gap between Beiber’s and Bob Dylan’s music. So I additionally suggest that there be an ad hoc solution of ‘patch meetings’. These will involve randomly collecting individuals for no purpose other than the transparent agenda to avoid genuine work. It will wean off the meeting-addicted in a stage-by-stage process. Perhaps the government might even pitch in with a few rehabilitation centers once it sees the potential.
Expect withdrawal symptoms to be displayed in some: sweating at the sound of a work reminder; nausea from competence; and chills from a lack of complimentary chai.
I have also prepared some handy propaganda to get the ball rolling. (Apologies/Conditions Apply to the talents whose legendary antismoking work I have shamelessly plagiarised.) I’m certain that the design industry will rise to the challenge and improve upon my efforts.
So my fellow industry giants and gnomes, I call upon you to take up the cry and end the tyranny. Let us ban meetings. They have no place in our new, liberal society.
Cyrus Daruwala is creative director at Alok Nanda & Company and author of ‘I Take This Train Too‘. A version of this article was published in Kyoorius 25.