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How makers make their mark without meetings

A familiar old word picks up a distinctive new use to describe those who actually create new stuff in the economy.

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Bloomberg Businessweek ran a piece not long ago that not only highlights an alleged new trend in organizational time management, but introduces a distinctive new use for a familiar old word.

The issue is meetings, a mainstay of the corporate world, despite their capacity to chew up vast amounts of time. The article cited a former software developer at Microsoft so frustrated with all the meetings he "doodled his way through" that he started estimating and tracking their costs – how many people in the room at how many dollars an hour times how many minutes of meeting. The average gathering "frittered away" about $500, he found.

The new trend: fewer meetings. And it's because of who's in charge in the companies in question. The article says, "Engineers are often in control at the latest crop of Silicon Valley success stories – think of coder-run companies such as Facebook (FB), Dropbox, and Square. They're reshaping the daily routine of thousands of office workers, with a special emphasis on fewer meetings. The forced hour-long sit-down is acutely problematic for engineers, designers, and other so-called makers, according to a 2009 essay by Paul Graham, a programmer and co-founder of the tech incubator Y Combinator."

Did you spot the word? It's "maker." It refers to those people who create whatever it is the company is in business to do. The article quotes Mr. Graham: " 'When you're operating on the maker's schedule, meetings are a disaster' because they disrupt the creative flow, he argues. 'You can't write or program well in units of an hour. That's barely enough time to get started.' "


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