Bowles & Wyer

To Meet or Not To Meet?

Written by John Wyer

It’s  6am and my old friend the snooze button (god bless him) can’t rescue me anymore!  I shower, change, wake the kids, dress the little zombies, stuff them with a good dose of strangely coloured cereal (fortified with vitamins so they say!), trip over school bags and run around like a Basil Fawlty for 20 minutes before finally ambling out of the door.  I can’t be late for my meeting in London I protest, I must catch that train or I am doomed! 

After dropping off the kids and racing like ‘The Stig’ to the station I find I have no parking money, and surprise, surprise the only parking spaces are miles from the station office!  After more expletives, rushing about and waiting behind the longest person in the world (I mean who buys their season ticket at 7.30am?) I finally get my ticket and place on the London Midland express!   This meeting better be worth it!
Much to my dismay the meeting turns out to be a complete time waster and not the ‘important’ one the project manager had built it up to be.  Landscape was of course the last item on the agenda with only minor queries, which could have been dealt with all to easily via email or over the telephone.  Still, at least there was coffee this time!

The problem with meetings, especially in a large design team environment is other consultants often don’t appreciate how much of our time is wasted when we are asked to attend those that don’t really concern us.  Involvement is different for architects, structural engineers and M&E consultants as they usually cover broad areas both internally and externally on projects.   As Landscape/garden designers we are generally only concerned with the exterior spaces (with some exceptions).  Whilst knowing how much duct work can be run through the ceiling voids is interesting for some, it is not usually our favourite topic of conversation nor does it benefit our work!   
This is where the art of meeting selection plays an important part of our armoury as landscape designers.  Learning to pick the right meetings to attend and those to avoid is vital if you are to maximise productivity and most importantly profit on a project.  Judging the number of meetings you will attend in fee quotes can be an extremely difficult task but a very important one none the less, especially if you hope to recoup fees for additional meetings at later date. 
Increasingly on larger projects we try to bottom out with project managers, clients and architects if they really do need us at all the meetings scheduled.  By simply asking the question you can end up saving a huge amount of time for both yourself and your clients which can only be a good thing in the long run, not to mention allowing you to get reacquainted again with the faithful Mr Snooze!

James Smith

March 2, 2012