Did you know that the first stop sign was installed in 1915?
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.
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.
Behind the scenes here at Lucid Meetings, we talk a lot about how to support organizations as they work to establish a robust, effective, and resilient communication architecture.
- Communication Architecture
- The method and frequency by which information, attention, and intent flows between people, teams, and systems in your organization.
Today, I'm inviting you to "think out loud" with us as we work to refine these ideas.
Topics: communication architecture