Meeting Hell

Meeting Hell

会议地狱

Do you ever feel like you come in early, work frantically until late in the evening, day after day, week after week, yet at the end of the month you didn’t get anything important done. Is your day packed with back-to-back meetings, with bursts of e-mail in between? If so, you are not alone. Especially in larger companies, the life of a product manager or designer can be meeting hell.

你是否感觉到每天从早忙到晚上,一天又一天,一周又一周,在月底却发现任何重要的事情都没有做。你的时间是不是被不停的会议和快爆炸了的e-mail占用着?如果是,你从此不再孤单,尤其在大公司,这种产品经理或者设计师的生活将从此“下地狱”去。

Partly this is a function of company size; smaller companies need fewer meetings because there are less people to keep in the loop. Partly this is a function of growth. When the company is small everyone gets used to being included in every meeting, and as the company grows this expectation continues even though it obviously doesn’t scale. And partly this is a function of the company culture.

一定程度上这与公司规模有关,越小的公司开会的时间越少,因为只有少数人在维持着公司运作。一定程度上与公司的发展有关,当公司规模小的时候,每个人都常常出席每个会议。而且公司的这种期望在一直地增长着,甚至表现出明显的不成规模。一定程度上这还是公司文化的一项功能。

But for whatever reason, many product managers and designers find themselves in meeting hell, and it puts a serious strain on their ability to get their job done. As a manager of these people, all too often I need to sit down with these people and explain to them that even though they are working like crazy, they are not doing what they need to in order to make a difference. They may get an A for effort but they still fail.

但不论哪种原因,许多产品经理和设计师发现他们自己进入了会议地狱,在工作中他们感到了压力,作为这些人的管理者,我经常需要和他们坐下来,向他们解释尽管他们疯狂工作,但没有做他们需要做的事情,这是有所区别的。所以在努力方面可以得到a,但是整个来讲仍是失败的。

What are these things that truly make a difference?  The types of questions I ask include:

这些会真正带来区别的工作是什么?我要问的问题包括下面几种情况:

– how many users or customers did you talk to this week?

在这周有你与多少使用者和顾客交谈过?

– have you had a chance to come up with your long-term product strategy?

你有时间考虑到产品长期发展的战略吗?

– what have changed in the competitive landscape?

竞争领域有什么变化?

– what big insights about your product have you had this week?

在这周你对自己的产品有什么重大发现?

– what new technologies do you see emerging that may enable new approaches to our products?

你看到的什么样的新技术使得新的方法运用到我们的产品中?

– what new skills are you trying to learn right now?

你马上想要学习的新技术是什么?

Most people respond by saying that is what they wish they were working on, but then they show me their Outlook Calendar for the week.  It is typically jam packed with status meetings of various flavors, interviews, planning sessions, one on one with engineers, marketing, project management, operations, peers, HR meetings of some sort whether it is 401K or company culture surveys or planning some event, and the list goes on.

大多数人对这些问题的回应是他们希望按照计划工作,但是他们给我他们本周的计划安排,几乎被各种各样的会议、面谈、计划中的研讨会,和工程师,营销人员,项目经理,运营人员,同事,人力资源一对一交谈,不管是401K 或者是关于企业文化调查,或是计划事件的,这样的事情一直持续着。

Unfortunately, most of these meetings will do little to help you make progress on the items that will actually make a difference to your product.

不幸的是,大多数这类会议对你的进步微乎其微,这将会给你的产品带来不同的效果。

The good news is that you really can turn this situation around. And not only will you do a much better job for your product and your company, but you will also enjoy your day and life more at the same time.  But it is not easy ,it requires some difficult changes in what are by now likely habits.

好的方面是你可以改变这种情况,你不仅仅在产品和公司做的更好,而且他同时你也很享受着你的工作和生活。但是这并不是简单的事,在这个过程中有些问题会导致象刚才提到的类似情况的变化。

In order to fix this, there are three major behavioral changes.

为了解决这个问题,主要有三个行为变化。

First, you need to let go and start trusting your colleagues more to do their job while you do yours.  So many product managers think they need to be present at every single meeting in any way related to their product. But in many cases, you really don’t need to be there. You can tell these people what you are trying to do, and say that if something big comes up that requires your personal attention, that they should feel free to contact you directly, but that unless you hear otherwise you will assume things are under control. The truth is that many if not most meetings simply aren’t truly necessary.

首先,当你工作的同时你需要放手和敢于相信你同事的工作。所以许多产品经理认为他们需要参加任何与他们产品相关的每一个会议。但是许多情况下,你真的不需要呆在那里。你可以告诉这些人你正试着作些什么,告诉他们如果有什么大的问题需要你的重视可以直接找你联系。但那是除非你听到的,否则你要相信一切尽在掌握之中。事实是大多数简单的会议是真的不需要。

A corollary to this is that you need to be smart and efficient about communicating status to those that need it.  A concise, well-structured status note takes you only a few minutes to write and even less time for the members of the product team to read. A good status is a topic in itself, but one key tip is to highlight at the top any exceptions or actions you need taken by others. Write it so that the reader can assume the project is on track unless something is clearly highlighted at the top.

这样做必然结果是需要在沟通情况下你必须需要讲究效率。一个简洁的,很好架构的便条只需花几分钟来写,花更少时间让产品团队的成员明白。一个好的定位本身就是一个主题,但是你需要让其他人得到的条款和行为的关键的地方要突出出来。写出来以便让看的人能够确定这个项目处于正轨的情况,除非一些事情在显著的位置清楚地标出。

Second, you need to realize that every hour of your day represents a choice of both what you will do during that time and just as important, what you won t be doing. We are all fallen into the trap of getting so caught up in the urgent items that we cant actually get to the important items.   Correcting this starts with a very clear awareness of whether an item is important or urgent. The questions above are examples of important. You need to have a list of what your important items are and when you need them by, and you need to change your mindset so that becomes your true priority.

第二,你需要意识到你的每一小时代表了你在那个时间会做什么和仅仅重要但你不会做之间的一种选择。我们陷入了处理紧急问题的漩涡中,而真正重要的事情却没有做。解决这个问题的办法是要对这个是重要的或者紧急的有一个清晰的认识。上面的问题是重要的例子,你需要有一张什么是重要事情的列表,当你需要做这些事情时,你需要改变你的思维模式以便先考虑最重要的事情。

One technique that I am a big fan of is to literally block off 2-4 hours every day for these important items. I just don’t know how someone can do the product manager or designer job without this quality time to concentrate and think about these bigger issues. Then it is a matter of using the time that remains for your urgent items. This will typically involve triaging, as there wont be enough time for everything. So you will need to decline or defer some things, delegate others, and in some cases enlist your manager help to find a way out.

我喜欢的一种方法是每天为这些事情留出2-4个小时。我不知道在没有高效率的时间里去集中精力思考这些问题,那些人如何做产品管理或者设计工作的。这是利用剩余的时间处理紧急事情的关键。当没有足够的时间完成所有的事情时就得把事情分类。因此你将需要减缓或者推迟一些事情,优先考虑其他事情,在一些情况中争取你的经理帮助找到解决问题的突破口。

A corollary to this is that it will be tempting to spend the blocked off time responding to all the e-mail that has come in during all of your meetings. You will need the discipline to ensure that you are really spending this time on the truly important items. Managing your e-mail is also another topic, but make sure you use this blocked time wisely. If you have to quit Outlook and turn off your cell, do it. Or you may find it useful to find a quiet conference room to hide out in.

这样做的结果是花一些专门空出的时间去回复所有的在你开会时发来的邮件。你将需要方法来确保你真正把时间花在了真正重要的事情。管理你的邮件是另一个主题,但要保证你要很聪明地利用这段留出来的时间,如果你退出outlook,关掉了手机,就赶紧处理。或者你可能会发现找一个安静的办公室躲起来是很有用的。

Third, for the meetings you do attend, and especially the ones you lead, you need to make sure that they are effective meetings and a good use of everyone time. You need to have a clear and well-understood and communicated purpose, and make sure that you and everyone else is prepared, and you need to move the meeting quickly to resolution.

第三,为了你要参加的会议,特别是你主持的会议,你需要确定他们是高效的会议,充分利用每个人的时间,你需要有一个清晰的、容易明白的、便于沟通的主题,要保证法你和其他人

There are many systems for personal time management and improving the effectiveness of meetings, but you and find these core principles behind most of them. It is a shame that so few managers help their employees with these time management issues. It is one of the most useful things a manager can do for an employee. Try them out and see if you can make some progress digging yourself out of Meeting Hell.

有许多关于个人时间管理的系统提高会议的效率,但是你会发现藏在这些背后的核心原则。只有少数的产品经理帮助他们的员工处理这些时间管理问题让人感到羞愧。这是一个产品经理为员工做的最有用的事情之一。发现他们,看看自己能否作些努力,把自己从地狱中救出来。

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