How do truly efficient organizations conduct meetings and collaborate?

01-Meeting is a business model that exchanges time for conclusions

Question: What is the most efficient way to communicate and collaborate within an organization?

Online or offline? Using documents or PPTs?

These are just communication and collaboration methods, but not the essence.

The essence of communication and collaboration is sending, receiving, feedback, and consensus. One person expresses their views, another person receives the opinions, and everyone can interact and provide feedback, ultimately forming a consensus.

In communication and collaboration, synchronous communication may be the most efficient.

This is because everyone is present at the same time and in the same place, whether online or offline, using documents or PPTs. The important thing is that speaking and listening can occur simultaneously, and feedback can be provided immediately without loss.

In any organization, there are various synchronous communication scenarios. What are the specific manifestations of these scenarios?

Meetings.

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Everyone reaches a consensus, comes to a conclusion, and forms a decision during meetings.

Therefore, for any organization, meetings are essentially a business model. It is a business activity that requires input and output. The input of a meeting is everyone’s time, and the output is consensus and conclusions.

However, the cost of a meeting for an organization is very high.

Meeting cost = time cost per person x number of participants x meeting time.

If the time cost of an employee is approximately 100 yuan per hour, and you have 20 people attending a 2-hour meeting, then the cost of this meeting is 100 yuan x 20 people x 2 hours = 4000 yuan.

Therefore, we must improve the efficiency of meetings. In meetings, we need to stimulate more effective discussions and create more collaborations.

But how do we do this?

**We need both efficient meeting methodologies and efficient meeting tools.**For example like Huddles.app.

Meeting methodologies teach us how to hold meetings. For example, Six Thinking Hats. Each person or group can have six different colored hats representing different thinking modes.

  • White hat represents information, which means fully collecting data.
  • Yellow hat represents value, which focuses on discovering benefits and advantages.
  • Red hat represents feelings, which allows the team to release emotions and feelings during discussions.
  • Green hat represents creativity, which concentrates on generating ideas and finding solutions.
  • Black hat represents difficulties, which focuses on identifying problems and challenges. Blue hat represents process, which arranges the thinking sequence and allocates thinking time in a reasonable manner.

By using these hats during discussions, every detail can be fully considered, and everyone can actively collaborate and contribute.

Meeting tools amplify the effectiveness of these methodologies and improve efficiency. For example, when 20 people gather for a meeting, the requirements for tools are particularly high.

everyone should be able to clearly see what is being discussed, there should be enough whiteboard space for annotation during discussions, and there should be meeting minutes that can be reviewed afterward. Huddles.app can solve all the problems.

However, due to the large number of participants or limitations in the meeting room equipment, the efficiency of many meetings is greatly affected.

02-How can we collaborate anytime, anywhere in the office leisure area?

However, synchronous communication scenarios do not only occur in meeting rooms.

In broader office spaces, such as leisure areas, discussions and collaborations often take place.

These discussions could be brainstorming sessions, communication meetings, or simply casual conversations over coffee that lead to a great idea and the need for an immediate meeting.

This raises a new challenge for organizational collaboration:

How can we efficiently discuss issues anytime, anywhere, while also stimulating everyone’s inspiration and creativity?

The answer to this question is to build a collaboration space within the organization.

In this space, everyone can freely express their opinions and have open discussions. I often give the suggestion to many people that every company should have a huge whiteboard.

My most common way of working is using online meeting tools,like Huddles.app with my team, jotting down all of our scattered ideas. Then, we take a look at everyone’s idea, seeing how these ideas can be expanded, connected, and structured.

A online meeting tool can solve three very practical problems:

  1. Compared to Word, Excel, and PPT, the whiteboard is more boundless and allows for free thinking.
  2. Compared to A4 paper, the online meeting tool is more open to everyone in thsi team and has no boundaries.
  3. Compared to flip chart paper, online meeting tool doesn’t have to worry about making any mistakes. You can write down your ideas, delete them if they’re wrong, and start over.

03-How to improve efficiency in remote collaboration between organizations?

However, what if one is not in the meeting room or leisure area of the office?

For example, due to the repeated outbreaks of the pandemic, many organizations have to work from home, or like me, who frequently travels, must work remotely. How can remote collaboration between organizations ensure “synchronous communication” and improve efficiency?

To ensure efficiency in remote collaboration between organizations, there are indeed many challenges, but there is only one essential factor:

Reducing communication loss.

We can follow the process of a meeting to see how to reduce loss. When we are all in the meeting room or office, we sit together, and if there is a problem, we can raise our heads and see our colleagues beside us. We can quickly call a meeting and start a discussion. However, when working remotely, these things may not be possible.

Due to the remote location, file synchronization has become very troublesome. Some instant messaging tools also have difficulty transmitting large-scale files.

For example, before the meeting, participants can be scheduled and quickly connected. Whether you are in a meeting room, leisure area, on a high-speed train, in a hotel, or at home due to the pandemic, as long as you enter the same connection code, you can quickly join the meeting without wasting a minute. Everyone can “appear” in the meeting at the same time, which Huddles.app solve all these problems, This tool can gather around all the member and work at same time, and the progress will show up immediately.

During the meeting, both local and remote participants can share files through the Huddles.app, it will show up on the meeting section immediately. To make file sharing simpler and more efficient, whether you are at home in American or I am nearby in the meeting room, you can share content through the client, display materials, and discuss annotations. This way, files do not need to be passed back and forth, and everyone can discuss together as if they were in the same location.

All content during the meeting will be automatically recorded and turned into minutes. After the meeting, the minutes and tasks can be shared with everyone with one click. The consensus and conclusions we have reached can become the basis for organizational decision-making.

In addition to reducing the loss of pre- and post-meeting linkage, there is also the issue of communication loss in formal organizational meetings, which is critical. Remote communication is not the same as being on-site. The visual and auditory experience and interaction will definitely be much worse.

For example, our colleagues in more than 30 regional offices across the country used to come back regularly for summary meetings every month or quarter. Due to the pandemic, they have not been able to come back for a long time. What should we do? Only remote meetings are possible.

But how to ensure the effect? You cannot have ten or more people discussing around a single phone or computer, which is very inefficient and unrealistic and will bring serious loss in visual, auditory, and interactive experience.

Therefore, remote collaboration between organizations must have a space that can accommodate multiple people and ensure offline communication and “real-time synchronization” of information with remote communication objects. This information includes pictures, sound, file sharing, writing annotations, and so on.

You may have experienced remote meetings where you cannot see who is speaking, only hearing their voice, or where the speaker’s voice is mixed with keyboard or door closing noises, which greatly affects efficiency.

So, how to reduce the loss of remote interaction? Communication is not a one-way process of information transmission but a process of sending, receiving, and feedback. There must be mutual communication and interaction between both parties.

There is a interesting feature of remote meeting tools. For example, if there is a question that cannot be explained clearly, you can write down your questions or worries, to help the other party quickly identify the problem. You can also quickly give feedback based on their questions. Therefore, even in remote communication, both parties can quickly get to the point.

By utilizing certain tools, like Huddles.app, communication losses can be minimized.

Even for remote collaboration, there are ways to make it as close to being on-site as possible.

Therefore, even for inter-organizational remote collaboration, synchronous communication can still be achieved, improving efficiency while being in the same place.

Conclusion

“Synchronous communication, being in the same place at the same time, improves efficiency.” This is such a great point.

The trend towards digitalization in future organizations will require even more intelligent collaboration and efficient connections between people, devices, and endpoints.


Author: Ashley Mitchell

Team meeting expert with over 10 years of experience in facilitating productive and engaging meetings. Ashley’s passion for effective communication and teamwork has led her to become a sought-after consultant and speaker in the field of team meeting management.

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