John Keith

Lucid Meetings co-founder, serial entrepreneur, based in Portland, OR
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Recent Posts

Technology Brief: Augmented Meeting Services (2021 update)

Aug 18, 2021 by John Keith in meeting technology, communication architecture (13 minute read)



Way back in 1996 I decided to quit my high tech job and start an internet software company with a couple friends, because ... Internet right?! Sounds like a lifelong dream come true—but right off the bat I made a big mistake.

See, you think you're going to be building products and delivering services (okay, you are), but as a company founder and leader you're really building a business. And in particular you're building the foundations, processes, and systems that support the business over time. Of course we didn't quite realize that, so instead we mainly focused on building out our product development systems, with scant attention on the accompanying business support systems. That was an error.

Because we hadn't really developed or standardized our communication architecture, people filled the gaps for themselves. One day we woke to discover we were rife with disjointed, informal systems—leading to pockets of isolated information that kept our teams in the dark and separated from each other in their own silos. A lot of that mess showed up in our meetings.

Through this tortuous experience we learned a very important lesson: our meetings were indeed "where the action is" — all the good, bad, or ugly in the organization showed up there. And once we had that idea firmly in mind we began to explore what it meant to develop a truly professional approach to meetings as part of a larger business communication plan.

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Topics: meeting technology, communication architecture

How We Created an Open API (and Added 1,000 New Integrations with Zapier)

Jan 10, 2018 by John Keith in meeting technology, release announcement (7 minute read)

 

Originally Published: July 16, 2016 when Zapier had 500+ Applications!

We began planning our public API implementation in late 2015. We had numerous requests for full Read/Write API access to the data model and were responding to stated customer needs.

By early 2016 we had the first version of the API tested and preview-ready. But an interesting thing happened -- we started hearing that people wanted a "simplicity layer" on top of the programmer-level API. What form would that take, exactly?

We started hearing that people wanted a "simplicity layer" on top of the programmer-level API

Well boy howdy, were we ever glad to find Zapier! Here's the thing, Zapier provides a "point solution"-oriented approach that addresses specific needs that real people in the real word have identified—needs that were outside our direct experience.

The core trigger-action model implemented by Zapier is super easy for non-technical users, and the promise of building a simplicity layer was compelling and real. With Zapier's codeless integrations ("Zaps"), extending Lucid Meetings with workflow automation became easy as pie.

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Topics: meeting technology, release announcement

Smarter Meeting Planning: The Process Approach

Aug 18, 2016 by John Keith in meeting technology (3 minute read)

How do you go about scheduling a new meeting with a group of people? David Coleman writes about his research into more than 200 meeting scheduling tools in this August, 2016 CMS Wire article, Smarter Meeting Planning Tools Try to Save You the Headache.

One of the biggest hassles with meetings is actually setting the meeting up, with multiple emails flooding inboxes deciding who could meet, what the meeting is about, and forget about trying to pin down one time when everyone can attend.

David asks: "But what if there was a better way?"  In David's analysis, the approaches for scheduling a meeting can be broken down into four main categories:

  1. Publish and subscribe tools
  2. Calendar scheduling enhancements
  3. Resource management tools
  4. Smart meeting tools

The ordering of that list can be viewed as the evolutionary order of technical solutions to the scheduling problem, with the Smart Meeting Tools section capturing the current AI and Bot zeitgeist. There are quite a few good recommendations in each category, and I think there are some interesting capabilities on the horizon in the smart tools area. Read the full post to get a full sense of David's insight into the scheduling challenge.

The article also talks about Lucid Meetings and our alternative approach based on a holistic view of effective meetings from a complete scheduling, execution, and results orientation.

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Topics: meeting technology

Key Learnings About Meetings and Meeting Software

Jan 7, 2016 by John Keith in behind the scenes (7 minute read)

The only thing that is constant is change.”

Heraclitus

2015, like all the years before it, was a year of big changes for Lucid Meetings. We've had a very good year. Our platform has become more mature and our customer base has grown. We've met new people and created new cooperative relationships with other companies. Business is good.

But we've all been around long enough to know that these external trappings of success can be fleeting; what we can achieve and how we grow both as a company and as individuals will depend entirely on what we do next.

That's why, when we look back at 2015, we pay special attention to what we've learned. Experience and knowledge gained are the key assets that can't be lost due to a shift in the market or any other whim of fate, and that will inform how we go boldly into 2016.

We asked each member of the Lucid leadership team to reflect on the key lessons they learned in 2015, and share them with you here.

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Topics: behind the scenes

Meetings as Competitive Sport

May 14, 2015 by John Keith in leadership & facilitation (4 minute read)

Many years ago, I met with Michael Harrington, a public speaking coach and trainer. He described his training approach as that of "taking a competitive sports view" to public speaking.

His view was that you could train people with some very specific skills and thereby teach them to win the day, so to speak.

For some reason, that competitive view of public speaking really worked well for me. The task of public speaking became something I really wanted to master, rather than something to be dreaded and endured.

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Topics: leadership & facilitation

Question of the Day: How do you track meeting results?

Apr 30, 2015 by John Keith in tips & techniques (3 minute read)

Recently we received this question from a Lucid Meetings customer.

What have you found to be the best way to track meeting deliverables and analyze efficiency / value added during meetings?

This is a great question; one that every group should ask themselves. So, we thought it would be valuable to share our answers with everyone here.


Wow, that’s a big question, so here’s a big answer!

Before we get into the specific, let me say up-front that it definitely depends on the kind of projects you run and how meeting-savvy your team is, and we’re always available to meet with people who’d like to talk through their situation.

With that said, here are some general pointers below - hopefully it’s a helpful start!

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Topics: tips & techniques

Book Review: Meet Like You Mean It

Apr 14, 2014 by John Keith in leadership & facilitation, book review (1 minute read)

I bought this book because I've been following Wayne Turmel's work on collaboration and virtual meetings for several years.

I was looking for a single reference that provided specific, actionable guidance for leading better VIRTUAL MEETINGS.

This book not only achieves that goal, but exceeded my expectations by going beyond technology and focusing on how to prepare and run great meetings - whether virtual, in-person, or some combination of both.

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Topics: leadership & facilitation, book review

The First Rule of Meet Club: Do we really need to meet?

Jun 15, 2012 by John Keith in leadership & facilitation (2 minute read)

While traipsing through the halls of a local high tech startup, I chanced across this laminated set of rules in the cafeteria.

Why the cafeteria? Because that's a high traffic area and it's important that everyone get the message: meetings cost time and money, so think about what you're doing! The first rule of Meet Club is to ask this question: Do we really need to meet?

Do we really need to meet?

You don't see people asking "Do we really need to write code?" That's because most people understand that there's a reason for writing code, but they don't understand the (valid) reasons for having a meeting. We think this is a bit of a shame and you can see our post about Why We're Focusing on Meetings for more perspective.

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Topics: leadership & facilitation

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