Going Topless During Meetings

Got your attention, didn’t I.

I couldn’t resist talking about this after the article by the same name got my attention yesterday morning in the San Jose Mercury News.

Basically the article talks about how business meetings have become more like short attention span theater because of folks multi-tasking on their laptops and PDAs during meetings, killing productivity.

“Frustrated by distracted workers so plugged in that they tune out in the middle of business meetings, a growing number of companies are going ‘topless,’ as in no laptops allowed. Also banned from some conference rooms: BlackBerrys, iPhones and other personal devices on which so many have come to depend.”

Linda Stone, a software executive who worked for Apple and Microsoft, calls this behavior “continuous partial attention” because of an intense desire to connect and be connected all the time, to be, in her words, "a live node on the network."

We all know how tedious and disruptive too many lengthy meetings can be, but I also know firsthand how disruptive staying “plugged in” can be too. Our firm is guilty as charged; I’m a multi-tasking fiend to a fault.

Sue Fox, author of "Business Etiquette for Dummies," said in the article that:

"Social norms say that the person you are conversing with takes precedence over text-messaging, e-mail, and cell phone. This rule applies in business as well. Today, people seem to be more focused on their fancy gadgets than on other people. Face-to-face meetings have become a low priority because they're constantly being interrupted by technology, and many people can't figure out what to do. What's more important - the gadget or the person, or people, you're with?"

Some folks may argue that multi-tasking on our “fancy gadgets” during meetings is the new norm and can be just as productive as if we went without.

I’m not sure because of late we never go without our gadgets. I should require our team to be gadget-free during our next meeting and see the difference in human creativity, connectivity and productivity.

What do you think?

I bet human resource departments are scrambling around the world to draft new gadgetry meeting guidelines while they hurriedly revise employee blogging and social networking site guidelines.


Posted by Kevin Grossman

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