If You Could Cut Your Meeting Times in ½ Would You?

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I know it sounds like a big promise. And what I'm thinking about may not cut a :60 minute meeting into :30 minutes, but it could make meetings and interactions up to 2X more productive. How?

Social Media for the Enterprise, Not Social Media In the Enterprise

Bear with me. I'm not talking about whether or not workers should or shouldn't have access to Facebook on corporate networks. That topic has been discussed @ length. I'm also not talking about the direct benefits of Social Networking tools like Presence (the ability to see someone online and ask a question in real-time), blogs, RSS feeds or external tools like Twitter.

The Un-Measurable Benefits

Would you do something that you believe will have a positive effect--but can't be measured? It's impossible to quantify the effectiveness of a meeting. However, what I am talking about would be more of a byproduct of all of the social networking tools above. Here's the hypothesis:

As I've gotten more and more busy with work, family, travel and kids--and the same has happened to my friends and family--I'm less and less connected. But by introducing Facebook to my life I've not only made connections with longtime friends whom I haven't spoken to in years--but I've increased the pace and quality of interactions, on and offline, with close friends who I see and speak to every week. In some cases it even enhances the connections and interactions with those I see or speak to every day.

The same holds true in an organization. Especially a larger one with highly matrixed organizational structures. You work with people on a project, new people come in with each different project and a disproportionate amount of time is spent getting oriented and staying current. Going back to the initial value proposition--making meetings shorter/more effective--a large amount of time is spent:

-          At Project Kick-off: Meeting and understanding team member's histories, goals & roles

-          Ongoing: Summarizing events since the last meeting or update email

In my personal, Facebook life today I know that:

-          My best friend from college - has been stranded in India for 5 days because of the volcano in Iceland and is now only 250 miles from home

-          One of my co-workers started conference calls at 6:30 this morning

-          My wife wasn't terribly pleased with my painting skills in our new bathroom (disclosure: she told me this face to face too)

Strengthening Weak Links

A recent article in CIO Magazine, Three Dangerous Social Media Misconceptions (Kristen Burnham, March 12, 2010) calls out the #1 misconception as follows:

1. "Face-to-face relationships are far more valuable than virtual ones."

While some level of physical interaction will always add value to relationships, Gartner says that come 2020, most relationships and teams will be based on "weak links"--that is, you may not have personally met a contact, but you'll know of or may have interacted with him via social sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. The sooner your enterprise adopts these tools, the sooner your employees will learn them, and the sooner you'll begin to cultivate these relationships-of-the-future.


I personally believe that it's not an either/or choice between face-to-face and virtual interactions. In fact, I'll be as bold as saying it doesn't matter. I can point to two extremely valuable work relationships that I've had over the past 5 years:

-          I shared an office with one of them

-          I met the other person, face-to-face, only once

Both relationships were very productive. The dynamics were similar. The communication tactics differed immensely. What does matter is the quality, frequency and relevance of interactions.

Still sound like too much? An over-promise? Stay tuned for my next post The Gap Between Facebook and LinkedIn. I'll also connect some of the dots with where Oracle Applications and technologies are headed.






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