The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

A shift from meetings to collaboration

When meetings become confusing people might be tempted to assume that it’s a simple communication problem. The assumption then may be that had Mike been more explicit or Rose been more clear, the meeting would have been more successful.

In most cases, the lack of clarity happens way before. It starts with the idea of what a meeting is.

We all have our individual ideas of how meetings are run and what they are for. They are influenced by the culture we grew up in, the environment we are working in and our understanding of what we want to achieve in a meeting.

And there is more to come as digital transformation progresses. To give just a few examples, meetings until now have been moments in time to talk things through in order to prepare decisions, become creative or gather teams around a table, and create space for exchanges. These tasks will continue to exist, but digital transformation is also transforming what meetings can do.

With the boost video communication experienced, it becomes feasible to merge tasks previously handled through different meetings into one. Meetings will not prepare the work to be done, they become used as an integral part of the work. Agility methods like Scrum are already showing this type of transformation. It’s shifting discussions into collaboration.

Add to this the flexibility people remote work is teaching us right now and we can see how the teams working together in meetings start to change constantly. It has become easy for people to join and leave the project team depending on when and how much their specific competence is needed.

As the way people interact with one another changes, the decision making process will become more data-driven to sustain the change in the team and ease the real-time collaboration. With shifting teams and work being divided in chunks permitting speed the learning cycles will also be affected needing to become much faster to be able to handle the increased speed of change.

None of this is easy. It does not suffice anymore to know how meetings work or worked in the past. Without engagement in the task being handled, without the ability to see where confusion and challenges in the collaboration come from, it will not work well. People skills will become an essential skill to enable collaboration and replace the experience teams have relied on until now.


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