The uncatered lunch meeting is not worth having

June 1, 2010: 11:56 AM ET

Just a little note to get the summer started off right. I have noticed a disturbing, post-recessionary trend developing that should, I believe, be killed in its cradle.

It's the uncatered meeting that takes place during what in civilized societies would be considered lunchtime.

When I was a lad, I worked for a guy I'll call Walt. Walt was a wonderful guy, except he had one (well, actually more than one, but that's another story) peccadillo that used to bemuse and annoy me.  With alarming regularity, he would call me at about noon and bark at me, "Come in here for a minute." Then we would chew the fat about sundry redundant things while he ate a big cup of soup and a bunch of bread sticks. I would watch him eat, stomach growling, until he was done. Sometimes this took ten minutes. Sometimes it took an hour, which smashed my own lunch plans to pieces. I think Walt just hated to eat alone. It just never occurred to him to order TWO bowls of soup or, for that matter, to give me advance notice. I guess he figured he just owned my ass 24/7/365, so lunchtime was as good a time as any to exercise his option.

Nowadays it's a little different. Walt is gone, long gone, and I believe right now may be looking forward to a solitary lunch at his palatial home in Connecticut. But his heirs live on, apparently. Like today, Finance is having a staff meeting at 12:30. There will be no food. This means, for those who are attending, that they can have the early bird special and grab a sandwich at noon, which is pretty horrible, in my opinion. Who's hungry at noon? Or they can wait until the end of the meeting and grab something at 2 p.m., when real working people are returning to do business after their respectable business lunches.

I believe there are three miscreant entities that are advancing this barbaric agenda. They are:

  • Finance: Because they can do what they want as controllers of the budget process;
  • Corporate Executives: Because they can do what they want, sitting atop the reporting structure;
  • The CEO: Because he/she can do what he/she wants, period.

There have been other fads that developed during my time on Planet B, including (but not limited to): Excellence, Quality, Managing By Walking Around, corporate seizure of airline miles accumulated during the course of business, 360-reviews, and so forth. All have bitten the dust. This one should too.

Meetings that take place between 12:01 and 1:59 should have food at them. Doesn't matter what. Who cares? Let us eat cake!

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