I had a conference call today that was scheduled to last two hours. It was a call for technical people only and it had to do with the installation of a new version of software for the server and the client workstations. After doing a roll call of about 30 attendees, the person heading up the conference passed the baton to a technical person who had us open the 38-page server installation instructions and he proceeded to read each and every word to us. One of the first paragraphs instructed the user to read and review the entire document before doing the installation. After a couple of pages of this, I responded when the reader asked if we had any questions about the page he just covered.
I politely questioned the need for reading the instructions completely--there was a second set to go through for the workstations as well and I was not looking forward to two hours of story time--and asked if there were parts of the instructions that needed to be touched on because they had been troublesome to others. The conference lead got all defensive and said that nobody complained during the last two conference calls and he thought this was important.
I wasn't looking for a fight so I didn't mention that what everyone probably did during those conference calls was work on other stuff while a voice on their speakerphone read to them and maybe complained to a work mate about how stupid that was. So I said, "Thank you," and was just about to disconnect when someone else chimed in. They agreed that a better use of our time would be to summarize and mention any troublesome spots. The conference lead was a little upset and asked if anyone else thought we should do that. So someone else piped up and said they thought so too.
Bizarrely, the conference lead said that maybe other people on the call would like to go through the entire set of instructions, to which that person responded, "Well, you asked." And nobody said they wanted to have it read in detail. So they shifted gears and the instructions were summarized. Not as much as they could have been, but enough to shorten the meeting from two hours to one during which I worked on emails, edited a document, monitored bandwidth usage, and requested quotes from vendors.
The title of this post doesn't convey what I intended to be, but that's how the conference lead reacted to me. That's his problem. In the end there were exactly three points where we were told something important. They could have just updated the instructions and told everyone to get the latest version via email, but the lead didn't give anyone a chance to say so. As soon as the last page of the second document was covered he thanked everyone for attending and concluded the call by hanging up.
I hit play on my music.
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