Thursday, March 24, 2011

SOME MEETINGS ACTUALLY MATTER! (And they even feel good!)

I realize that, from some peoples' perspectives, I'm about to commit the ultimate heresy.

However, there are some meetings which I go to that are actually worthwhile, and even fun. (I warned you about heresy — I know most meeting are pretty yucky, even at the best of times.)

I'm referring to the Executive of UCACS (The University Committee on Animal Care and Supply). This is the committee which is responsible for the welfare of virtually all the "critters" who "crit" (live) on campus, particularly those involved in research and teaching. (At a University like ours, with multiple biosciences, a lot of animals are involved in a lot of research and teaching.)

Over the last several years, I've gotten to know the people on the committee in a variety of contexts that are all related to our main responsibilities. Some are teachers and researchers, some are administrators, some are technicians. They are all very good at what they do, and they all think creatively. People like Ali, Amanda, Brenda, Colette, Diane, Jane, Ramji (our chair), and others. We all have a high degree of respect for each other, and a very strong sense of collegiality. And these folks are interesting to talk to, in their own right. 

Yesterday morning, we had to meet and deal with a significant problem. (Details aren't important.) We started, as usual, with some pretty light visiting, and a few "bad" jokes from the Bear. (I'm the community representative and formally-trained ethicist in the group, and sometimes the class clown). When we get down to business, we're darned serious, but don't lose our senses of humour or irony. And believe me, there are some strongly ironic moments.

In trying to conclude the matter, I put a motion forward. Long and short of the situation is that my colleagues didn't agree with me. Which is OK. We come from a wide background of experience, which is important, because it really does help us achieve important consensus. And since we see the problem from different perspectives, we can make different comments.

Eventually we arrived at a better solution than I had proposed, and we all apparently felt good about that. A tricky problem solved in roughly three-quarters of an hour.

I cannot speak for the others, but I came away from the meeting feeling good, feeling that we had resolved something in a way that was ultimately in the best interests of individuals and the University.

Not too bad for a meeting that started at 9:00 a.m., when I'm Bearly awake. (I'm retired; gimmie a break, already!)

Yes, it was a good meeting, heresy notwithstanding.


The Blog Fodder said...

Wonderful day for you, Rob. It really does feel great when a problem gets sorted out by using everyone's brains, and everyone is in agreement. I am glad for your group and glad for you. I hope you have more days and meetings like that.

The Bipolar Diva said...

It sounds exciting and productive. I think that makes it a good day :)

Tattieweasle said...

Oh can I come to a meeting like that? One where people obviously listen to each other, where if you disagree doesn't mean that you are life long enemies and where egos get left behind for the common good? I never knew they existed!

Diana said...

It's a good thing Rob to keep your hands and mind in important matters after retirement. I'm sure that you have lots to contribute!
Love Di ♥

potsoc said...

Some committees, too few unfortunately, do solve problems. Too much publicity about unproductive ones, not enough about the good ones.
Same with our young ones, we hear a lot about the 3% disfunctional ones, very seldom about the 97% performing ones.

Rosaria Williams said...

I have found that with old age, the idea of winning an argument, or getting my point approved is no longer important. My ego has shrunk immesurably. Now, at meetings, I just want to get an option we can live with without regrets.

p.s. you sound better!

Amanda Summer said...

i read this with great interest, bear - and learned something. the next time i'm in a meeting of colleagues (or family members) i will try to have the presence of mind you showed in this case, to say your piece and then have faith that the group will make the best decision, even if it does not end up being what you proposed.

i also like what rosaria said in her comment. leaving one's ego at the door for the greater good of the group is not always easy.

bravo, bear, on the obviously positive outcome of your committee's meeting.

Frances said...

How lucky you are to have these opportunities to prepare for a meeting with colleagues, to have the meeting and exchange ideas, opinions, and to actually think about each others' ideas, opinions, etc.

I'd say such opportunities cannot arrive frequently enough. These are not like school time debates, but actually are about important issues, and involve adult, mature input and reasoning.

Wow! (that wow did not sound too adult or mature, did it?)


Wendy said...

From an office meeting room poster:

"Bored? Lonely? Hate having to make a decision?
Then why not HOLD A MEETING!
You get to
see other people,
sleep in peace
offload decisions
learn to write volumes of meaningless notes
feel important
impress your colleagues
... and all in work time!
What could be better than that?!?

MEETINGS - the practical alternative to work!"

Prove 'em wrong, Bear - go on, make a difference!

Nancy said...

Too bad countries couldn't take lessons from you, Bear.

Anonymous said...

The meetings I've attended only succeeded in scheduling another meeting. Yours, on the other hand, reached solutions! Now, will they be put into action?

You are necessary to more than meetings bear. You are essential to our friendship and that of all your readers. Okay, okay. You're VERY essential to your wife, but we never hear HER side. lol

Rob-bear said...

® Blog Fodder: I love it when a plan comes together.

® Bipolar Diva: Exciting + Productive = Good Day. Yes!

® Tattie Weasle: Wonders never cease, especially if you know where to look.

® Diana: I may be a bit slower at things, but my mind is as sharp as a rubber hose. Oops! Mixed metaphor there. (OK, it was intentional.)

Rob-bear said...

® potsoc: Well, I am reminded, from time to time, that a camel was a race horse that was built by a committee. If we are not going to solve problems, or create forward plans, I'm of the opinion that we're wasting time by holding a meeting.

® Rosaria: "An option we can live with without regrets." YES!

® amanda: "Say your piece and then have faith that the group will make the best decision." Yes. Though that takes a fair amount of trust in one's colleagues. NO problem with mine.

Rob-bear said...

® Frances: You're right. We know what's at stake (or steak?), we do our homework, and we come prepared. And we solve the problem.

® Wendy: That kind of cynicism about meetings sets and encourages an unhelpful attitude. I would doubt that much, if anything, is accomplished in that meeting room. The ethos would be so oppressive.

® Nancy: Thanks.

Rob-bear said...

® Dana: I expect I will receive an e-mail note later today, indicating that the proposed action has been taken. I am fairly certain that our action will not be happily received, but it will be important for a variety of reasons.

You're very kind in your estimation of how essential I am. And as for J, our son helped her get a facebook page, and I've offered to help her start her own blog. Once she's mastered facebook, she may well try blogging.

About Last Weekend said...

They should send you guys over the Middle East to sort things out there...

Rob-bear said...

® About Last Weekend: Thank you for dropping over and joining on, Jody. Unfortunately, our skills are in the area of animal welfare. Totally useless in the Middle East, unless we reduce all the combatants to the level of animals. Even at that, I don't think we'd touch it.
But thanks for the suggestion.