Developing a vision for web-based meetings

What is your vision for web-based meetings?
While you may appreciate the importance of visions and clear pictures of what you are working toward, it is possible that you may not yet have developed a clear and consistent picture for what you want to achieve through better use of web-based meetings.

This is not unexpected, and there are a number of possible reasons for this:
  • It may be in the ‘too difficult’ box – you may not have a good grasp of the potential of web-based meetings for your organisation, and you might argue that it is a picture that is changing all the time
  • It may not be seen as high priority, because there is not yet a complete understanding of the levels of waste that accrue through meetings (web-based or otherwise)
  • Responsibility for meetings is distributed among all who use them, while the other things that you do have a vision for are likely to be the direct responsibility of yourself or your team
  • You may not even have a future vision for physical meetings (for some of the reasons outlined above) and feel that the idea of a vision for web-based meetings in isolation makes no sense
It is true that, unlike virtually every other process, the process of meetings is not the purview of any one group.
We often treat processes like meetings, and emails, and report writing as de-facto – influenceable by the occasional piece of policy or training, but not considered in terms of managed performance improvement.
It tends to be up to individuals to discern and adopt suitable practices, with very little or no training (even when they involve technology) and very occasional ad-hoc and subjective feedback (a somewhat flawed dynamic if you consider that the person responsible for the meeting is usually the boss).
But the world is changing, and our future success lies more in our meta-processes than in our direct processes – as Arie de Geus put it, “change may be the only sustainable strategic advantage” and it is the meta-processes of meetings that are key to that future, and we will either wake up to that fact early, or we will wake up to it when we are out of work.
Currently, our process of meetings is in a parlous state, and is in dire need of overhaul and improvement – not on an ad-hoc and individual basis, but as part of a strategic and managed programme. And for that we need a clear vision – a picture which inspires people with what we are working toward, a basis for identifying clearly what needs to be done, and a benchmark for measuring our progress toward that and for determining any corrective actions that need to be taken.
Meetings have huge potential for ensuring that your people’s creativity, experience and commitment are harnessed into ensuring that your strategic advantages are maintained, but to achieve this we need to begin with a clear picture of the extent to which we want those key things to happen.
Changing the quality and performance of meetings is a difficult thing to do. It has been tried many times in the past and the result has been no better than what we currently see today. So why should we be any more optimistic about a new cycle of change?
The answer to this question lies at the heart of why we are proposing you should BEGIN with a vision for web-based Meetings.
All previous cycles of change relied on a willingness to uproot and challenge established and personal patterns by people who were worst placed to evaluate progress, and best placed to dissuade or ignore any external feedback. Furthermore the need was not entirely evident to them – people could probably see that there was a need to improve the meetings they attended, they felt that those that they themselves ran were okay.
The introduction of web-based meetings however brings in a new perspective, new opportunities and a new acceptance that there may be something to learn.
So the challenge now is to identify the standard which will build on that new openness and set in motion a new hope for web-based meetings, a new benchmark against which people can objectively judge their progress, and seek help with none of the attendant awkwardness that such an admission might bring in the more established world of physical meetings.
But what would such a vision look like? The following potential benefits my provide a useful start point or checklist for what might be included in your vision for meeting effectiveness:
  • An increase in the number of meetings where people emerge from them feeling fully confident that they met the objectives of the meeting, and that themselves and all of their colleagues are fully committed to the outcomes?
  • A reduction the time wasted by late arrivals at meetings, or people arriving unprepared and not having read the relevant documents; and perhaps therefore, a reduction in the overall time that people spend in meetings?
  • A step change increase in the rate of organisational performance improvement, and an increase in the ambition of what is to be achieved in each meeting?
  • An increase in people’s enthusiasm for meetings, and their increased satisfaction that their time was used efficiently and that they achieved more (for the organisation) through the meeting than would have been possible working on their own?
  • An increase in cross-functional projects and positive inter-team dialogue, and more ambitious organisational targets which people are committed on working on together?
  • An increase in the number of practical creative ideas and innovations which emerge out of meetings?
  • An increase in the number of actions completed to time, and available as planned for the subsequent meeting?
  • An increase in the number of people who feel that they are growing (and being utilised) as fast as they could wish?

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