Goal Factoring: Silent Meeting Attendees
You know all of those people hanging around during a discussion while 1-3 people debate something? I think they’re likely a sign that something is wrong. Let’s look at the benefits and costs of having non-speaking entities in a meeting or discussion.
- Learning from watching
This may be improved with a video. Unlike human discussions, videos can be sped up, skipped, and played whenever convenient. I also suspect that there is a high correlation between participation and understanding, so I assume that many people not participating are not understanding much anyway.
- Possibilities of comments
How useful have these spare comments actually been in the past, specifically those that can’t be emailed to a specific party? Online chat systems can target questions and comments far more efficiently than meeting situations can.
- Support for the speakers
If speakers just want to feel appreciated, then purchase inexpensive virtual assistants to attend in the place of useful employees.
Possible Harms (besides obvious opportunity costs):
Reduction of energy
When I’m bored I loose energy and wind up more exhausted than I would have been accomplishing useful work. Paying half-attention and doing nothing actively reduces the quality of my life.
Culture of meetings and slow time encouraged
That is all. I encourage small meetings, and when discussions begin with a subset, either they agree to talk separately or it’s ok-ed for the others to leave.