Coffee Meeting Tweeting Brews Heating Debate

June 14, 2011

A Scottish government squabble shows that though informal chats over coffee can be more productive than formal meetings, it’s the meeting tweeting that can cause a beating. Scotland’s Minister Biagi is in hot water for his tweet which mentioned coffee. Convening their first meeting following elections, his education committee had met for a short period and set the foundation for the next meeting, including choosing a chairman and stating the steps that should occur before it re-convenes. After the meeting he participated in an informal meeting that was over coffee and lasted an hour. Following the second meeting, "The Scotsman" reported that Biagi tweeted "Education committee this morning took 14 mins. Then we spent an hour chatting over coffee. That's how to govern a country." This is the tweet that caused the controversy, as an opposition minister criticized the remark because the education sector has major problems which he felt should have been addressed in the formal meeting. Biagi was quick to respond that his tweet was “tongue-in-cheek”. This cheeky tweet really indicated that the less formal meeting over coffee - that was not paid for with public funds, incidentally - was more relaxed and productive. So what’s the controversy really over? Sounds like politics. Many of us know that the real business is conducted less formally over coffee. Coffee makes any meeting more enjoyable. There are recommendations from business consultants that state business meetings should be as short as possible. The fact that this education committee conducted more business unofficially over coffee within a longer time-frame is probably quite a common experience, as most committee members are more likely to contribute to discussions that are off the record and casual. Besides, the coffee helps keep participants awake. The moral of the story: Keep meetings short and sweet, but be careful how you tweet. (And always serve coffee!)



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