It looks to me like we've broken work. Not for everyone, and not everywhere, but for a lot of teams the WE part of work isn't working.
I know. This isn't new.
Work has been kinda broken for a lot of people for a long time. But take it from a lady who deploys lots of duct tape and safety pins: there's a big difference between kinda broken and all-the-way broken.
The lockdowns broke office work. They forced many people out of jobs, and many more into isolation in an attempt to protect our communities. Even though we went through this experience together, we experienced it alone. We were forced to craft a way of working that was uniquely tailored to our individual circumstances. As "3 weeks to flatten the curve" morphed into multiple years with an ever-shifting end goal, we developed new habits.
Before that, there wasn't much need. Horses rarely ran into each other, and most people traveled by foot. There were no speed limits, no lane markings, no directional signage, and few street name signs. Traffic control was not a thing.
The first stop sign was an intervention. More cars led to more accidents, and something had to be done.
Since then, our understanding of how to manage traffic has evolved. Today, the stop sign is one of many internationally recognized signals. We enjoy sophisticated, continually evolving systems for routing traffic.
Like rapid travel, meetings used to be an infrequent activity. Courtiers, guild masters, and bishops met. Everyone else went about their business with no need to draft an agenda or call anyone to order.
While the 20th century saw a rise in the management class, it wasn't until the 1980s that most of the workforce held jobs that required regular meetings.
Still, there wasn't too much traffic running through the conference room. Most companies shared a few meeting tips with leaders, then expected everyone to work it out.
Then the 2020 lockdowns arrived, and meeting traffic exploded. Calendars became gridlocked with overlapping, back-to-back video conferences. Software that analyzes calendar data saw increases in meeting time ranging from 13-148% (Sources: National Bureau of Economic Research, Microsoft). So many meetings!
Two years later, employees everywhere are crashing and burning out from sitting in endless meeting traffic jams.
The Great Resignation is hitting some companies harder than others. Companies with a well-designed Meeting Operating System - a system that directs meeting activity to ensure meetings flow effectively and efficiently - enjoy calendars that look a lot like they did before the lockdown. Those embracing asynchronous communications have even more time free for other work.
John Antill works as a U.S. Army Expeditionary Civilian Workforce Knowledge Manager. In his pursuit of a Master's Degree at Kent State University, he decided to map the flow of information while working as the Knowledge Manager for Army Joint Force Headquarters Cyber using the military's Operational Management Rhythm approach. He focused specifically on the meetings, or meeting flow models, asking:
Which meetings are we running now? What's their purpose?
How are these meetings intended to fit into the larger information flow?
Is the necessary information reaching the right people at the right time?
Where are the gaps? Where are the redundancies?
How might we re-work our meetings to better achieve our objectives?
When he was done, the Army worked to implement his suggestions. Early results include:
105 staff hours per week saved by redesigning one meeting A 30-person weekly meeting that had run four hours each week was reduced to 30 minutes.
70% fewer meetings 178 regularly scheduled meetings involving multiple groups reduced to 55
Radically increased workforce adaptability The inter-department meeting schedule for a 4-Star Command, including meetings that coordinate the work of nearly 1.5 million people, was successfully shifted to adapt to the Covid-19 lockdown in a matter of weeks.
When we conceived of Lucid Meetings, we set out to create a meeting system that embedded the knowledge and processes we'd been exploring into a technology service that organizations could readily adopt; an expert system of sorts to help them avoid much of the pain we'd all experienced in our prior business improvement initiatives.
Our mission for the software platform then, and now, was pretty straightforward:
To build the world's most inclusive, connected, and informed online meeting platform, empowering people at all levels of an organization to readily lead exceptional work meetings.
In terms of the Meeting Performance Maturity Model, the Lucid Meetings technology platform fits into level 4 (systematized), where the organization is deploying standardized technology systems to support an effective communication architecture.
It's About Total Meeting Success, Not Just Technology
The biggest evolution in our thinking over the past ten+ years has been to move beyond "technology as the solution" and embrace more fully the entire human meeting experience.
This is why you'll see us focus strongly on helping people learn the essential skills they need to successfully leverage the technology platform, and why you'll see free learning resources throughout our website and in the software itself.