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Three-fer

Web meetings:  “strangers” meeting with “strangers”, discussing strategy – can you relate?  You’re invited to a meeting; log in on time; then wait for the key participants to appear – with the usual excuse, “Sorry, my previous meeting ran over.”

Starting without introductions, agenda, or objective, one of the meeting speakers launches in to a campaign speech about the strategic importance of x, y, or z.  We patiently listen – not knowing exactly why we’re there; unprepared to contribute; we start wondering what’s going on in our email in box – so we open up a second window.  Let the web-meeting-multi-tasking commence!

As we run over the allotted time (making that key person late for his next meeting), things are hastily concluded with a battle cry, “Let’s take the hill!” and we adjourn; leaving the meeting without assigning tasks; next steps; roles; or responsibilities.

Today’s virtual, web meetings remind me of Arthur Black’s perspective on systems development:

The stages of Systems Development

  1. Wild enthusiasm
  2. Disillusionment
  3. Total confusion
  4. Search for the guilty
  5. Punishment of the innocent
  6. Promotion of the non-participants

The other day I attended 3 web meetings like this.  Yep, it was a three-fer!

The first meeting started the usual way:  no introductions; sans-agenda; absent objectives.  We were gathered to discuss, “the most unique and important, new opportunity we have ever pursued!”  Tim started the meeting; Jim hijacked the talking stick for a 30 minute, self-serving campaign speech on the strategic work he has completed so far; the path he will lead us all on; and how we must break down our internal, departmental boundaries so he can lead us to a new-new world.

A few others added their hoorahs and the meeting ended without assigning tasks; timeframes; roles; or responsibilities.   I never did find out who Jim was.  So I thought about Norman R. Augustine’s perspective:

Another mystery commonly observed by committee pathologists is that the time consumed in debate is dominated by those with the least to offer.

Reeling from the question, “Why was I there?” I was called into another, ideation meeting.  There were no introductions, no clear agenda, but there was a nice campaign speech.  I offered the first idea (mistakenly thinking that’s what one does at an ideation meeting) and was immediately shot down.  No one else spoke up after that.  I don’t remember much more (but I did catch up on email).

That afternoon – the trifecta.  Bypassing introductions (honoring our new ritual of strangers meeting with strangers) we actually had 5 agenda items; of course, only time for 1, so we ran 30 minutes over; and ended with clean in boxes and without tasks; timeframes; roles; or responsibilities.

The main discussion was around improving an existing program that is getting rave reviews from our clients.  In fact, the senior executive in the meeting stated the feedback he receives has been nothing less than this program is “the best our clients have ever participated in”!

Since it is working so well – we decided to improve it.  Reminds me of John M. Capozzi’s perspective:

In all my years in business, I have found that people in meetings tend to agree on decisions that as individuals, they know are dumb.

I think that’s also called Stage 3 on Arthur Black’s list.  Running off to our next meetings (late), we departed without assigning tasks, but took a moment to salute the battle cry, “Let’s take the hill”!

GAP

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4 Comments


  1. John Kleinhenz
    Sep 17, 2014

    Gary – you are teeing me up for a sales pitch !

    How about trying Fuze for meetings? Seeing someone face to face improves the collaboration and experience.

    Plus – use the Notepad to share the agenda.

    http://www.fuze.com

    Thanks for your updates – they are quite realistic.

    John


    • Gary
      Sep 18, 2014

      Thanks for reading and commenting John! Feel free to re-use my post in your sales process, because – I can’t make this stuff up! 🙂 Yes, video conferencing would be a great advancement towards focus and away from multi-tasking. However, then we would have to start showing up to these meetings dressed in something other than our bathrobes, true? 🙂 Thx, GAP


  2. Jim Anderson
    Sep 17, 2014

    Pretty good analysis and characterization of the application of modern technologies without application of common sense. Good primer for anyone new to the arena who has not yet learned the realities of web based communications. Thanks.

    Jim


    • Gary
      Sep 18, 2014

      Thanks for reading and commenting Jim! “Common Sense” – yes, I believe that’s on display in the museums today. “Museums” – well, never mind 🙂 Thx, GAP

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