One of my favorite characters in the Dilbert cartoon series is a curious creature called  “meeting moth.”

Even if you have never glanced at a Dilbert strip, we all know someone like meeting moth. The meeting moth can’t pass a meeting in progress without careful investigation of those in attendance. And, after several trying-to-be-inconspicuous rounds of circling the room in question — or, in the case of Dilbert, incessantly flapping their wings —cannot fathom why the gathering failed to include them.

I should also mention that as a result of several more-than-painful meetings with the human resources department in every company I’ve worked, I also love the evil HR director character Catbert, but that’s fodder for another column.
But I do know something about meetings.

I used to work for company so tethered to the concept that they would actually hold weekly meetings to see when it was convenient to schedule meetings.

In fact, one late Friday afternoon, our group vice president called everyone into an “emergency meeting.” Once the grumbles subsided and everyone quickly called home to say they would be late, or pushed back their social timetables, he announced that we weren’t actually having a meeting, he was just testing to see how fast we could assemble in the event of an actual emergency.

Miraculously, he kept his full complement of teeth.

But one thing I have learned is that meetings of more than three people rarely run shorter than scheduled. I’ve long suspected that’s a principle that’s more or less carved in some ancient tablets of meeting rules.

So you can imagine my surprise at the recent Spring meeting of Council of the American Institute of CPAs, when each day’s multi-item agenda ran noticeably short.

I mean as in getting out early.

On the Sunday afternoon program for example, the conference was scheduled to break at 5:30, but was done at 4:15. Okay by me, I was fairly worn from the five-hour flight.

Ditto for Monday – which, in the interest of full disclosure, allowed me some much anticipated pool time in the 100-degree-plus desert heat of Phoenix. The final day, which was scheduled for a 3:30 meeting adjournment, curiously parlayed into a 2:00 dismissal and much less of a scramble to the airport for some.

Now, I’ve been mulling the reasons as to why.

Was the agenda “lighter” than those of past meetings?

Well, yes, you could interpret it that way. Absent were long drawn out and often heated debates centering on various issues such as one of the recent ACIPA projects.

But as we all know, we don’t have Cognitor to kick around anymore. Institute president and chief executive Barry Melancon was just “re-upped” for five more years, so that the membership-wide debate over a change in leadership is, for the time being, quelled.

Are the members playing nice and trying to get along better. Well, yes, there’s probably some truth to that too. It’s probably better to move forward than to dwell on unpleasant aspects of the past.

Although it was not nearly as interesting to write about as past member arguments over some polarizing strategy, for whatever reason the Spring confab did what most meetings seemingly never do.

Start on time and end early.

Just the way I like ‘em.

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