Small Meetings & Over-Architecting Solutions

Man, it’s been forever since I posted anything. At least it feels like it. I’ve actually started a few articles, but my heart wasn’t in the specific topics. I don’t want to write a blog “just to hear myself speak” or just to blather on about trendy buzzwords.

I want to have an impact on the daily life of my fellow technologists, especially those that work with virtualization and storage.

That’s also why I write small articles – just enough to get you in the right direction or whet your appetite. When I reminded myself of that this morning, today’s topic was clear. Not only do I want to have a positive impact on my fellow technologists, but I also want to influence you to do the same. Here are 2 ways you can accomplish this:

Keep Small Meetings & Do NOT Over-Architect Solutions

I’ll bridge the 2 in moment. For now, let’s keep working on the first topic of Small Meetings. Avoid the temptation to invite everyone you can think of to a meeting, just because they might touch some small part of your topic. Keep it simple. If 3 smart people can get through the meeting productively in 30 minutes, don’t invite 10 people for an hour. If 1 meeting will suffice, don’t schedule consecutive weeks.

How often do you leave work thinking, “man, I got nothing done today because I was in meetings or on calls all day”? Granted, some days like that are unavoidable, but don’t contribute to this, and don’t enable this. If you’re not sure that the time will be well spent, ask the meeting owner what it is that you are required for. I’ve been on 2-hour calls where I was only needed to comment on a slide that didn’t come up until the last 15 minutes.

Lesson learned – if you can provide the comments beforehand, do so. If it’s a planning meeting that you can’t contribute on until a later stage, say so. Ask for a meeting summary and offer to provide comments asynchronously. Start turning meetings down where possible – you’ll help keep their meetings shorter.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask others in the meeting why they are there. If they don’t know, or aren’t needed, ask them if they’d like to have the time back in their day. Offer to send them a brief summary of the meeting. Cut them loose.

So how does this fit into technology solutions? Easy. Keep it simple. Yes, yes, technology can be quite complicated, but don’t add complexity where it doesn’t provide real benefit. Don’t be tempted to throw in every tool you know of; everything in the solution/design/architecture has to have a purpose. “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

One of my uncles used to say, “Wear your experience like a watch”. Don’t go around telling everyone the time. He went on to explain that an observant person that needs to know the time will look at your wrist before he asks his question.

By the same token, don’t shoehorn every possible angle and product into a solution. I refer to this as a Pampered Chef party. If you have a spouse or significant other that has every hosted or been to a Pampered Chef party, you might know what I’m referring to. A person hosts a party to sell kitchen wares and shows off said wares by making quick and simple recipes.

This is where things take an odd turn. “Mix ingredients with your Pampered Chef spatula in your Pampered Chef bowls after measuring ingredients with your Pampered Chef spoons and Pampered Chef measuring cups then use your Pampered Chef scoop to place ingredients on your Pampered Chef cookie sheet….” Ok, fine, I may have overdone it with the run on sentence, but I’m not exaggerating the product placement.

People don’t like to be sold to; they want their problem solved. They asked for the time, not the barometric pressure, not the altitude, etc.

If you can create a solution effectively with 3 major components, then don’t add in another 7. There will always be corner cases, there will always be strict business requirements, but most of the time, the simple solution is the right one. Size the solution to the problem. If the customer needs a clever trick, they’ll ask for one. Better yet, if you solve one problem well, they’ll ask you to come back and solve 2 more.

So there you have it. Keep it simple – don’t make things more complicated than they need to be. A small meeting comprised of the right people will get things done faster. A solution that has been trimmed of its excess complexities will be easier to implement, manage, and consume.

Hope this helps you!!

Captain KVM

Agree? Disagree? Something to add to the conversation?