Meetings and Paper


I have been to a lot of meetings in India and have noticed some patterns. Meetings…

  • Never start on time. A half hour wait for the ‘chair’ is not uncommon, except when I’m the ‘chair’.
  • Always have refreshments, usually regular coffee in small half full cups and if you are lucky, cookies.
  • Always have a sign in sheet that you actually have to sign, in case you weren’t there.
  • Never start before 11 am and can be as late as 7 pm, with a gap from noon to 4 pm. Long lunch!
  • Always include cell phones, my biggest problem. People leave their cell phones on (unless I’m the chair) and freely take calls. There can be several conversations going on at once. The cell phone God wins and it drives me crazy.
  • Always big on paper. In the Indian bureaucracy if it isn’t on paper it doesn’t exist. Nothing can be done unless some form of written permission exists to allow it. Documents need multiple approvals (signatures) and everything is actually read by someone, so be careful what you write. As you might imagine this is not conducive to independent, quick decision making in the public sector, but that’s nothing new.