Brad's Books and Organizations

Books

Books

Organizations

Organizations

Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

« swipe left for tags/categories

swipe right to go back »

So I Just Wasted 60 Minutes of System Time

Comments (5)

This rarely happens to me so when it does, I notice it.  And – in my effort to write some of my tricks about work-life balance, I thought I’d call this one out, especially since it was totally my fault.

In a board meeting last week, I had a quick reaction to something I saw and rather than say something in the moment (since my comment was off topic), I added an item to my todo list to email out a note about it. 

Rather than write an email with my specific thoughts, I wrote an email that said something like "I have some thoughts about X."  The person on the receiving end suggested that we get together quickly and discuss it.  Mistake #1 on my part – I should have simply responded with the substantive thought.

We scheduled a brief meeting for the end of the day today.  He ended up bringing two other people by to hear my "important" feedback.  I was 10 minutes late to the meeting because I was down the block from my office at a board meeting.  They sat around in my conference room for 10 minutes (mistake #2 on my part.)

When I showed up, we got right to it.  Sixty seconds later I had given them my thoughts and comment.  In a moment of self-reflection, I realized everything I had just said could be summarized in one sentence.  I made small talk for another minute so that I wouldn’t feel like 91% of their time was wasted hanging around waiting for me.  While my efficiency improved (arguably I had now I had only wasted 83% of their time if you valued the small talk), I now felt like I’d wasted 12 minutes of their lives.  We quickly said goodbye.

They were very gracious about it.  I walked back to my office and felt like a schmuck.  So I wrote this blog post (which took another 12 minutes to write and post.)  Of course, you could argue that I’m wasting even more system time by having posted this (and causing you to read it), but that’s your choice.

Presumably you get the message.  I could have saved everyone a lot of time by simply saying what was on my mind during the meeting.  I had a second – and easy – chance to do this in the email I sent after the meeting.  Eventually I got around to saying it, but only after it wasted some more time.

  • Aziz Grieser

    Good post.

  • Lloyd Fassett

    That's a post that makes me want to work with you because it means I can believe you.

  • http://www.proofhq.com/html/blog/index.php Mat

    Brad
    Just dealt with a similar issue:
    1. Software implementation issue needing my organisation's input.
    2. IT manager sends email saying “Hey, need your organisation's input. Let's schedule a meeting.”
    3. I send a reply saying “Would love to help. Before having a meeting can you summarise the problems? Maybe we can solve sooner.”
    4. IT manager get's the hump because he perceives we don't want a meeting.
    5. Six weeks later, no progress solving problem.

    Point being… “Let's have a meeting” is often used as a reason to delay thinking in detail about an issue. Even after a meeting is arranged, too many of them happen without planning an agenda or issues list. They end up being meetings about meetings.

    We all do it. Human nature I guess.

  • http://stanleybronstein.com MrPositioning.com (S

    Meetings are places where people often take minutes and waste hours . . .

    I ran into something like this last week. I had someone trade 10 emails with me to set up a 15 minute phone call. I told them during the 15 minute phone call to just forget the emails and simply call me the next time they need me. There is a 90% chance I'll be able to take the call and a 10% chance I'll tell them to call me back. In any event, we won't have to trade 10 emails that took up more time than the meeting.

    Mr. Positioning
    Stanley F. Bronstein
    Attorney, CPA, Author and Professional Motivational Speaker

  • Russell

    In that instance you wasted time, next time in the same circumstances your comment might trigger a thought from one of the three which sparks a new thought in another etc. etc. which might not have happened if another “VC value add” email hit the trash can.

    I rarely think time spent face to face with portfolio companies is wasted as long as there is two sided conversation rather than one-sided presentation (from either side).

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/lloyd_fasse7242 lloyd_fasse7242

    That's a post that makes me want to work with you because it means I can believe you.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/aziz_griese5636 aziz_griese5636

    Good post.

  • Mat

    Brad
    Just dealt with a similar issue:
    1. Software implementation issue needing my organisation's input.
    2. IT manager sends email saying "Hey, need your organisation's input. Let's schedule a meeting."
    3. I send a reply saying "Would love to help. Before having a meeting can you summarise the problems? Maybe we can solve sooner."
    4. IT manager get's the hump because he perceives we don't want a meeting.
    5. Six weeks later, no progress solving problem.

    Point being… "Let's have a meeting" is often used as a reason to delay thinking in detail about an issue. Even after a meeting is arranged, too many of them happen without planning an agenda or issues list. They end up being meetings about meetings.

    We all do it. Human nature I guess.

  • MrPositioning.com (S

    Meetings are places where people often take minutes and waste hours . . .

    I ran into something like this last week. I had someone trade 10 emails with me to set up a 15 minute phone call. I told them during the 15 minute phone call to just forget the emails and simply call me the next time they need me. There is a 90% chance I'll be able to take the call and a 10% chance I'll tell them to call me back. In any event, we won't have to trade 10 emails that took up more time than the meeting.

    Mr. Positioning
    Stanley F. Bronstein
    Attorney, CPA, Author and Professional Motivational Speaker

  • Russell

    In that instance you wasted time, next time in the same circumstances your comment might trigger a thought from one of the three which sparks a new thought in another etc. etc. which might not have happened if another "VC value add" email hit the trash can.

    I rarely think time spent face to face with portfolio companies is wasted as long as there is two sided conversation rather than one-sided presentation (from either side).

Build something great with me