It doesn’t matter what size of business you run, chances are you have way too many meetings. Whether you have 100 employees or a dozen people crammed in a storefront, meetings, pow wows, sit-downs, summits — it doesn’t matter what you call them — happen much too often. Even worse than the frequency is the potency. How many times have you sat down for an hour to talk strategy or devise new projects only to leave a meeting with nothing but frustration to show for it? Do not put up with that any longer. Utilize a project-based, online forum.
The sign of a good meeting is finishing in an hour or less with action items and the collaborative juice to move forward. Checking all three of these boxes is rare, but the reason you keep missing the mark is the venue of conversation itself. By moving business discourse online, you remove social chatter, tangential dialogue, and worst of all, trivial anecdotes.
Now, to be clear, the solution isn’t email. The solution is a tool such as Basecamp, Slack, Asana or one of a dozen other teamwork and project-based online discussion boards. It takes a great deal more effort to type out your thoughts rather than speak them. With any of these online business forums, collaborators are forced to focus their thoughts, stay on task and share everything on the record. The result from these environments is progress.
Basecamp is the leader in the world of shared project management, and at $100 a month for commercial businesses (free for teachers; half-off for nonprofits), it’s simple to see why. Discussion threads are project-based; users can upload data, graphics, videos, images and interactive web elements; and all involved can comment or share. If that sounds attractive but costly, Slack may be more your speed. Slack is free and offers much of the same tools, but its interface is not nearly as user friendly, which might force some users to abandon it and kill the “No More Meetings” plan.
Of course, some people like meetings, as face-to-face interactions can build community and relationships. These people will struggle with this online forum push. The arguments are that they’re impersonal, too many discussion threads are going at once, things are moving too quickly, etc. As a leader, it should take you five seconds to understand those negatives are actually positives. Hours of your life will return to you, windowless rooms will become a thing of the past, and forward momentum will become the new norm once you transform your meetings into online discussions. ♦
Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. Follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb.