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2005年8月 2日 (火)

Long, useless meetings still a scourge at work

 僕は英辞郎を使って英語を読みまくり、インターネットラジオのNHKのラジオジャパン英語ニュース< /a>で時事英語を聞きまくってます。(^^;また、VOAでヴォイスレコーダーにDLしたMP3音声とテキストも楽しんでます。
参考「こんな感じで英辞郎を使ってます

Long, useless meetings still a scourge at work

08/02/2005

A little over 400 years ago in midsummer, the army of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598) was advancing on Odawara Castle, whose lord was Hojo Ujinao (1562-1591). Ujinao held a council of war with his senior aides, debating whether to make peace or war with Hideyoshi, or hold the castle and engage in combat.

Probably because of Ujinao's indecisiveness, the council dragged on and went nowhere. The castle came under siege, and Ujinao surrendered to Hideyoshi about three months later.

2005年08月01日(月曜日)付
【天声人語】

 秀吉の軍勢が小田原城に迫る。当主の北条氏直は重臣を城に集め、対策を練る。講和か合戦か、籠城(ろうじょう)か出撃か。氏直が優柔不断なのだろう、いずれとも結論が出ないまま時が流れる。3カ月余り攻囲された末、あえなく秀吉軍に屈した。今から400余年前、夏の盛りのことだ。

From this episode in history comes the expression "Odawara hyojyo," an idiom for a useless meeting or a conference that drags on seemingly forever. The futility of Ujinao's council of war at Odawara Castle was often exaggerated in pithy senryu poems during the Edo Period (1603-1867). Meetings that are nothing but a waste of time die hard.

 この史話から生まれた言葉が、おなじみ小田原評定である。城内の軍議のだらだらぶりが江戸期に川柳などで誇張され、一向にまとまらないダメな会議の代名詞となった。

Even today, bookstore shelves are crammed with how-to books on improving the efficiency of corporate meetings. Titles include: "Sugoi Kaigi" (Awesome conference), "Kaigi Kakumei" (Conference revolution) and "Nobiru Kaisha wa Kaigi ga Umai!" (Successful companies conduct meetings smartly!).

But the matter is obviously not cut-and-dried, as there are also new books that extol the virtues of traditional, long-winded meetings. I saw one book titled, "Kaigi wa Mometa Hoga Ii" (The more disagreements in a meeting, the better).

 ダメ会議は決して滅びない。いまでも書店には、会議の効率化を説く本が山と積まれている。『すごい会議』『会議革命』『伸びる会社は会議がうまい!』。逆に『会議はモメたほうがいい』と旧来型の良さを挙げる新刊もあるからややこしい。

A U.S. insurance company executive once told me, "When I took up my post in Tokyo, I was astounded to realize that all meetings were scheduled by hourly slots." The executive recalled a meeting that went smoothly and could have been wrapped up 14 minutes ahead of schedule: "The meeting's moderator insisted that we spend the remaining 14 minutes chitchatting. I just couldn't believe it."

In the case of the U.S. firm Intel Corp., half-hour slots are the norm for meetings. The company even has conference rooms with lights that shut off automatically after one hour.

 「東京に赴任したら、社内の会議がどれも1時間刻みで設定されていることに驚いた」。米国の保険大手幹部にそう言われたことがある。せっかく早めに案件が片づいたのに「あと14分あるのでしばし御懇談を」と司会が促す。まるで理解できなかったという。たとえば米社インテルの場合、会議は原則30分刻みで、1時間たつと照明が自動的に消える会議室もある。

In retrospect, there was a time when the traditional Japanese-style meeting was touted as an opportunity for management and rank-and-file workers to share their grievances.

Executives visited from overseas to observe at firsthand how the system worked. But that was during Japan's asset-inflated economy of 1980s, and I feel as if we saw things like a vision.

 ふり返れば、日本流の会議がもてはやされた時期もあった。「経営陣と現場の社員が悩みを共有できる会議」と喧伝(けんでん)され、海外から視察が来た。バブルの時代の話だが、今となっては幻のようだ。

Now that it's August and midsummer, meetings that drag on are not welcome. It might help if the conference room air-conditioning units were set to shut off after an hour.

 今日から8月、真夏の会議は手際よく進めたい。1時間たつと冷房が切れてしまう会議室でもあれば、議事も多少はひきしまるだろうか。

--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 1(IHT/Asahi: August 2,2005)

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