by Mark Leonard
Meetings are essential in maintaining organizational lines of communication. However, during intense operating conditions, too many meetings can seriously interfere with work.
During the drawdown of troops in Iraq in 2011, I was working on FOB Sykes in Northern Iraq. We were notified that our base would transition to the Iraqi Army between June 1 and July 15. As the Sr. Ops Coordinator, I worked with the Site Manager to organize and complete the transition, which consisted of property inventories, property sign over to Iraqi officials, convoy coordination, final base cleanup, employee terminations/transfers, and a ton more. We literally had a 50 page desktop operating procedure for base closure and transition; it was a huge undertaking with lots of moving pieces.
In the midst of the chaos of closing the base, our oversight at Regional hub Camp Speicher wanted to have daily meetings to receive status updates. This meant that all of our supervisors had to drop what they were doing and meet in the conference room for an hour each morning. It was understandable, the Regional folks were having to report status updates to KBR’s Middle East Headquarters, who in turn relayed the info to military command and KBR Corporate. Still, it was too many meetings, and the interruptions in work were beginning to put us behind schedule. Some tasks can’t be started for a couple hours, left for an hour, and then picked back up.
We eventually convinced Regional to receive updates from the Site Manager alone so everyone could get to work. We were thankful when, five days prior to the final departure of employees, our communication systems were taken down and shipped out. It was five days of peace and quiet, and the remaining employees, some of whom had been on the site for six years, were able to spend their final days in Iraq in peace.