By Ted McEnroe, Director of Research and Training,
Want to make sure your community fails? Tell your potential members it is being created to enhance collaboration.
Rob Cross of the University of Virginia and others recently wrote in the Harvard Business Review about the culture of “collaborative overload” that is sweeping organizations in America – it’s a worthy read and episode of the HBR Ideacast.
I’d bet most of you who are reading this see that and smile. Or nod. Or you would but you’re in a meeting right now and that would give away that you’re not paying attention. (Unlike the people in this stock photo – who are happier than anyone has been in a meeting ever.)
But if you don’t like your meeting heavy day, your finance team should be apoplectic. Here’s why.
Let’s say in any given week, you spend an average of 10 hours in meetings. (You probably spend more.) Let’s say you make $100,000 per year, plus benefits. (Congratulations or sorry for the pay cut.)
You’re being compensated in the range of $35,000 per year to sit staring out the window and trying to check email while someone else speaks.
Multiply that by the number of people in your average meeting. Or in your office. You get the idea.
And of course, the actual time in the meeting is the tip of the iceberg. There’s the meeting prep, scheduling and re-scheduling. There’s the meeting follow-up, usually with the people who couldn’t make the meeting because their last meeting went long. And if anyone actually takes notes, there’s the process of typing them up and sharing them. For all its opportunity, community actually works to combat that.
So how is community, putting everyone together online, actually helping them collaborate less? By shifting the focus from time to content.
To be effective, meetings require 100% attention from attendees, 100% of the time. But the reality is they may only need to know 10% of what’s on the agenda. As everyone goes around the table to give status updates, often the manager is the only one who needs that report. But everyone “gets” to listen.
Community changes that. By posting in a community context, you’re still sharing what you need to share, but only the audience that needs to hear it has to do so. Jackie may need to know what Bob is doing, but can skip Stan’s update because it’s not relevant. Boom. There’s 5 minutes of her life back.
It also creates a searchable archive. If Jackie remembers Bob said something interesting about a client meeting, she can search it instead of shooting off an email where Bob needs to repeat himself. Or she can check if the meeting was Tuesday or is happening on Thursday – so she knows when there will be more information. Boom. 5 more minutes back.
Or because Bob has been sharing as he goes, there’s a running record and his boss can say, “Try this approach,” on Monday instead of “You want to do what?” at the Thursday check-in when Bob’s presentation is ¾ done. That could save him hours.
There’s always going to be a need for meetings – and real collaboration. But community creates an environment that reduces false collaboration, the time we spend together where we aren’t collaborating.
Try it! This week, cancel the weekly status meeting and put it in a community thread. Work out loud, so the team knows what you’re working on when you start – not when you are done. Post that email you’ve answered a hundred times for every young associate in the community. Save the time together for when you really need it. In my earlier sample, that could save a company with just 100 people $1 million per year without batting an eye. And if they use the time saved to get things done… you’re generating new value on top of that. ROI, anyone?
Community is efficient. It’s effective. And it should be the end of collaboration as we know it.
See how the best communities save time and support organizations in the State of Community Management 2016 – available now!