Monday, July 13, 2015

How To Score An Academic Meeting

I do not, in principle, hate academic faculty or departmental meetings. In fact, as someone who (many of my friends have rightly dubbed) a "certifiably pathological proceduralist"-- no kidding, I would voluntarily stand out on the corner and pass out Roberts Rules of Order like evangelists pass out Bible tracts-- I genuinely (ahem, naively) look forward to meetings as an opportunity to get things done, with everyone present and voting in a rule-governed milieu, as opposed to the oft-opted-for alternative, i.e., cloak-and-dagger and/or passive-aggressive strategery. Seriously, give me a corner to evangelize RIGHT NOW, and I will CHANGE THE ACADEMY FOREVER.

That said, for many academics, myself included, there's nothing worse than bad meetings.

Let me just go ahead and concede the #firstworldproblems objection to my moaning in what follows. You're right. Suffering through a "bad" academic meeting, even the worst academic meeting, is not by any stretch of the imagination "real" suffering. It's not starvation, it's not incarceration, it's not abject poverty, it's not torture.

Correction: it may, in fact, be a legit kind of torture,

At my previous institution, I began covertly developing a points-based scoring system for meetings, prompted in part by the fact that every departmental meeting there fell on a scale that ranged from BENIGNLY AWFUL to COUNTER-PRODUCTIVELY AWFUL to OMG KILL ME NOW.  (After the umpteenth meeting in which I later found my meeting-notes to include a scribble that read "totes shocked they didn't just straight-up ask me to make the coffee this time", I started developing this scoring system.)  I'm ever so fortunate to be at a new institution now, no less susceptible to the antigens that plague all academic meetings, but situated alongside a faculty with a far more robust immune system as far as I can tell.

Anyway, I posted my current scoring-system for meetings on my FB page and Twitter feed earlier today and it kinda blew up, so I thought I'd share it here as well, in the hopes that you readers might help me perfect the (ahem) "rubric" (-10pts already!) below.  I've made a few minor changes/additions to the OP, but here's my current system for How I Score Meetings:

+5 for starting meeting within 10mins of scheduled start-time
+5 for a comfortable chair
+5 for appropriately-controlled heat/AC
+50 if anyone (who was not otherwise required to do so) brings food/snacks
+10 for every time I laugh out loud
+5 for every time I want to lol but can't/ought not
+5 for existence of agenda
+10 for agenda distributed ^before* meeting begins
+20 for consistently minding agenda throughout meeting
+20 for accomplishing an item on the agenda (per incident)
+25 for interesting/productive conversation of agenda item (per incident)
+5 for interesting/productive conversation of non-agenda item (per incident)
+10 for ending within 10 mins of scheduled end-time
+20 if there are no procedural violations
+10 if there is a vote
+2 for each person who votes with me
+10 if a vote goes my way
+25 if anyone suggests "taking all this up further over drinks" after meeting

-1000 for meeting canceled less than 24hrs of scheduled meeting time
-20 for violations of Roberts Rules of Order that any rational agent should know (per incident)
-5 for violations of obscure and/or largely unknown Roberts Rules of Order
-5 for each person present who does not know or care at all about Roberts Rules of Order
-5 for every time I roll (or want to roll) my eyes
-10 for every time someone else rolls their eyes and I don't know why
-5 for logical fallacies (cannot be combined with eye-roll demerits)
-5 for generic assholery (per incident)
-10 for racist/sexist/homophobic statements (per incident)
-10 for other non-generic, identity-based microaggressions (per incident)
-30 for meetings that occur in non-ADA-compliant spaces
-10 for every use of the word "assessment" or "rubric"
-20 for every time it is assumed that everyone present has a husband/wife/partner/second-income
-10 for self-aggrandizing in excess of 3.5mins (per incident)
-25 for absence of coffee because COFFEE IS ASSUMED
-100 for any matter that should have been voted on that is not
-20 for running over time (compounded by -10pts for every additional 10mins over time)

+50 if an argument breaks out that also causes someone to leave
-50 if that argument involves me
+200 if a hiring decision goes my way
-100 if a hiring decision does not go my way
+50 if a speaker invitation goes my way
+20 if a speaker decision doesn't go my way but I still like the speaker
-40 if a speaker decision doesn't go my way and I don't like the speaker
-1000 if aspeaker decision doesn't go my way and also the speaker is a war criminal, fascist and/or libertarian. (NB: These categories frequently overlap; demerits do NOT compound in proportion to the awfulness of the speaker.)

So there it is, readers.  Comments section is now open for suggestions/revisions.  I'll just say that my "average" score since employing this system is somewhere between 20-50.  So, the meeting that I attended today, for example, which scored 80, I would count as a VERY GOOD meeting.  I'm going to need to hear from more of you before I can establish a legitimate C-range score, so please do think back upon your most recent meetings and let me know how they measure up!

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