We’ve been having this conversation with many of our clients over the past few weeks, and it has been helpful to acknowledge that a meeting is simply one method for accomplishing targeted results that are aligned with a purpose. While circumstances may have changed, it’s possible that there is still a way to accomplish what the meeting was meant to.
If you are facing this same issue, there are two primary questions we suggest you consider:
The answers to these questions can vary, but if the purpose still holds true and the timing of the results you were looking for is still critical, there are plenty of alternative methods to in-person meetings that you can explore.
We have been working with our clients to design virtual gatherings and experiences that can accomplish the results they need. You can find some of our suggested guidelines for moving your meetings to a virtual environment here, and we will be sharing even more of our thoughts on this topic in the coming weeks. For now, here are a few of the things we believe are most
If you need a partner in figuring out how best to move forward, please connect with us – we would love to help.
Join us later this week for a live conversation on this topic and how we’ve been approaching it with clients. You can register here.
We will continue to explore this question and many others related to how we stay connected and keep creating value in challenging circumstances, so stay tuned for future episodes of The Connection Diaries and sign up for our newsletter, where we will share more resources and reflections over the coming weeks.
If you and your community have been having inspiring conversations and ideas about how to navigate the COVID-19 reality, we would love to hear about them! Please comment below or connect with us on LinkedIn. Let’s unleash our collective brilliance.
Mickey: Robin is part of our Connection Diaries where we’re really discussing with people the various topics that seem relevant about how we stay connected in the current disconnected situation brought on by the COVID-19 issues. I know that one thing has been happening a lot—and you’ve been on lots of calls with clients over the last couple of weeks—is people are asking you something like, “Hey we just canceled our big meeting, now what?” And I’ve heard that those conversations have been going really well that they’ve been practical, and people have said at the end, “That was really useful.” What has been happening that has people pronounce it as useful?
Robin: Well, I think to answer that question, Mick, we actually have to go back to one of our base principles which is, a meeting is just a method. And so, “a method for what?” is a lot of the questions I’ve been asking so, we really distinguish between purpose—what’s the why that’s driving the event, and then what are the results? What are the intended outcomes you want to have for it? And so, if you can pull those apart and really hold that the meeting is a method for accomplishing particular results that are aligned with a purpose, it gives you a direction to go in those conversations. And so, the first question that I’ve been asking people is, “Well what was the purpose of the event or meeting to begin with, and does that purpose still hold true in today’s circumstances?” So, in some cases, the answer to that question is “absolutely,” and in some cases, the answer is “maybe not right now,” because circumstances have changed. But that’s the first question, is, “So what’s what was the purpose?” and then the second question is, “And what were the intended outcomes? What did you—what results were you trying to get, and are those results still critical for your business right now today?” And again, sometimes the answer to that is “absolutely,” because the important decisions or strategic direction that was being set in those meetings is critical to ensure that business and commerce and results continue, and in some cases the answer is, “maybe we need to pause because we have other things we have to take care of.”
So, the first is really understanding what were the purpose and the outcomes that you were looking for and then we can look at, okay, if those are important to you, and the timing of those is such that it’s still critical, let’s come up with other methods for how to have that meeting. And for that, we’ve got lots of ideas for how to do something virtual that will address the purpose and deliver the results.
Mickey: I’m interested, has there been a majority response, so have most of the conversations the purpose is still valid, and the results are still valid, or most of the conversations people go, “no not now”? What have you seen so far?
Robin: So far, the vast majority has been yes, the purpose and the results are still valid. There have been a few instances where the particular situations of—a situation of COVID-19 and the situations of particular clients have meant that they do need to delay because they need to have emergency response put in place. They need to figure out what they’re doing with lots and lots of children being out of schools, in case of one client. So, it really does depend, but I would say overall many of the things that we’ve been working on, those business results are really still critical even in today’s circumstances.
Mickey: Well, among the things that people are really getting more and more interested in is: how do you produce those results that are important to certain purposes and do it when we’re not physically together? Is there anything you want to say about that? Because I know we’ve been doing a whole lot of design of virtual gatherings for people, and it’s something that’s really important right now, and I think you can still have vivid experiences if you design those well. Anything you have to say about that?
Robin: Well, that could take up a whole bunch of time in this short video—in this short conversation. I’ll just say one or two things, and then hopefully people will join us because we’re gonna have another longer conversation about that. I think the number one thing, and it’s uncomfortable for people, but really please use your videos. I know that that feels hard in a lot of organizations, the number of people who use some sort of platform, but they don’t turn the video on. We really do think that the connection requires a variety of senses, so very practically speaking, start using the video technology that you have available. And then the other is, really be thoughtful about what is the purpose and the outcomes and who is—who must be involved. So sometimes when we hold bigger meetings or bigger in-person events, we invite a lot more people for a lot of political reasons or organizational reasons. In these settings, we really do have to think about who’s critical for the conversation, because they can be a little more challenging to manage when there’s more people. There’s technology solutions for that as well, but I think this is the time to be thoughtful about who must you include in those conversations.
Mickey: Well as you said, there’s a lot more that can be said in this area about the design of virtual gatherings, and we’re gonna be—any of you listen to this, we’ll be sending you ways to engage in that and giving you really good examples. We really want to stay with you. We think that going through the challenge that the physical separation creates for us, maintaining our connection as communities of people doing work that we all know is important, we think it teaches things that actually outlast the COVID-19 virus. We think that it actually could make us stronger, and being able to maintain ourselves no matter what challenges come. And we look forward to talking about that further with you as we explore, how do we stay connected even when the circumstances make it hard? So Robin, anything else for you?
Robin: Just—I think we’re here to stand with you to really think through the design of those connections in these uncharted territories.
Mickey: Okay. And we enjoy doing it; it’s actually fun to figure out. Okay, we’ll be in touch. Thanks, everybody.
Robin: Thanks, all.
For over 25 years Mr. Connolly and his colleagues have explored how communication impacts coordinated action and organizational culture. Working in global commercial companies, police departments, […]Read more