Why online meetings are the best bad thing to happen to businesses
It’s been interesting to see how we lament what we used to have in the business world. I’m specifically referring to meetings and conferences. These physical gatherings were sometimes welcome changes to the day and sometimes barriers to staying productive. For years, the business community has been kicking around the ball: are meetings too long? Are they productive? Can we do them in better ways?
There hasn’t been a shortage of examples, such as Elon Musk’s three rules for better meetings, Google’s suggestion to appoint a decisionmaker, and Facebook’s view that standing meetings are better. All of these provide some direction, but none of them got to the root of the problem sufficiently for bad meetings to become a distant memory.
Then COVID-19 happened, and almost overnight the world has aligned with online meetings. This was virgin territory for all but the most salted of video-conferencing warriors, and even that group would frequently admit they don’t like much of what video conferencing offers. There is scant eye-contact, no real ability to read body language, and you need to have preexisting relationships for an online conversation to mirror a physical one.
People would rather sit in a room for a boring meeting than have an online session. Yet now that we are forced to use them, I’ve noticed online meetings have a certain effectiveness to them. They tend to be more succinct. People are more prone to being attentive because they have to be proactive to remain part of the conversation. And, it’s not a trainwreck if a meeting fails to happen or falls short of expectation, because at least you never left your desk.
The lesson here is that crisis creates clarity, the type of clarity you can’t engineer with advice and insight. Of course, those are important – Elon and Google’s advice make even more sense now than they did before. But it required a jarring situation to shift us away from the conventions limiting our thinking. I’ve mentioned this before – one thing we can thank a crisis for is pushing us out of our comfort zones.
In the case of meetings, we didn’t even know there was such a zone, because meetings are generally not comfortable. Yet once we’ve been forced to take the seemingly worst option on the table, now suddenly we see the forest for the trees. Keep that in mind as COVID-19 keeps creating uncertainty. Yes, it’s going to be a rough ride. But we will catch glimpses of what is really wrong – and right – with the world. We can’t engineer those views. Yet now that we have been dragged into such a situation, we should take the opportunity to look at things more closely.
Catch up on our past newsletters
CRISIS ISN’T OPPORTUNITY. BUT IT DOES OPEN THAT DOOR
The challenge with change is that it’s rarely big and bold. If we could see change coming from far away or find our way to the crest of the wave, then change would not be so hard to understand.
MAY YOU LIVE IN INTERESTING TIMES.
It’s not easy to appreciate the maxim: “May you live in interesting times.” Not until such times arrive and we have to reevaluate how we do things.
FIRESTORMS, EPIDEMICS AND ESCALATING CONFLICTS
It is tempting to refer to the start of 2020 as biblical. Firestorms, epidemics and escalating conflicts – this is already shaping up to be the year of external risks.
CHEERS TO A NEW YEAR AND ANOTHER CHANCE FOR US TO GET IT RIGHT.
Please enjoy the inaugural thryve New Shoots newsletter, kicking off 2020.
2019 has been a good year for thryve.