All your teams are in a meeting-hopping mode, but things are not moving! Are we missing something? You cannot have another meeting, to understand the problem.
Today if you lose your mobile phone, you will feel handicapped and things will come to stand still. One can hardly imagine a situation, without mobile devices. Top this with social media and endless business meetings that happen nowadays in hybrid mode (hybrid cars are the not the only popular thing happening).
You must be wondering, with so many meetings happening in different modes—the decision-making process would be fast and there would be no hurdles. Any objections will get instant solutions—but ground reality is different. Industry study shows that 24 Billion hours are wasted every year because of unproductive meetings. An employee on average spends 4 hours preparing for and attending meetings per week. Though meetings are supposed to improve creativity and productivity—actually they do just the opposite when they are excessive, badly scheduled and poorly run or a mix of all three.
No body tries to address the basic challenge of collaborative interactions. With so many options available from Slack, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp, Zoom, Google Meet and the offline modes available, collaboration looks easy, but then there is more energy drain (personal + actual electricity) with least attention and quality too is questionable. It was interesting observation during the pandemic—where even in online education, attention span of students was found to be at dismal levels.
To improve Collaborative interactions, have listed some suggestions.
First—Let us have something like United Nations—Permanent Security Council members who have voting and veto rights and other members who have only voting rights but no veto rights.
By doing so, what you are doing in each of the meetings, the members know that the member who has only the voice, and there will be a member who is the final decision maker and who will be accountable for those decisions. It may sound autocratic, but the idea here is to take quick decisions and not to get into democratic endless discussions. It also doesn’t mean that you are not taking inputs from team members. You weigh the inputs but there is one person who will be taking the final call and they have to get out of the meeting room (real or virtual), only after taking the final decision.
Second—Driving Innovation. Most organizations though talk about this, innovation is more of an accident and not the culture of the organization, though you will find it being mentioned in most of their marketing collaterals. For driving innovation, one needs to give all the members an entrepreneur’s cap and they have to behave like an entrepreneur who are sensitive to cost and growth. For doing this the leaders have to empower employees, where you encourage them to come up with solutions to problems and not be present to discuss problems.
Third – Beyond information sharing. Invariably, most of the meetings land up as information sharing forums and after going through the entire meeting, you wonder—why you were called for this meeting? With so many information sharing platforms available, organization should be focused on what it needs to achieve in these meetings.
Having a clear agenda without drifting from the objective and even having a time-keeper and a moderator nominated for the meeting sessions would be resourceful. It is a no-brainer to understand that focused interactions can improve productivity, speed and improve the innovation quotient of the organization. It goes without saying that when you are in a meeting, you have your mobile phones switched off, to have uninterrupted attention and focus.
Ramdas Shenoy is and INSEAD alumni and Director at GetSet Labs, partner at Soul Catalysts, Director at Blue 24 Media and Marketing Solutions.