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Topless meetings for team focus?

When it's hard to stay focused, try going 'topless' to meetings - San Jose Mercury News

Our good pals over at Adaptive Path have been experimenting with banning laptops and other communication devices in meetings (something I've supported in the past). From today's Mercury News:

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...

But as laptops have gotten lighter and smart-phones even smarter, people have discovered a handy diversion, making more eye contact these days with their screens than one another. The practice became so pervasive that Todd Wilkens turned to his company blog to wage his "personal war against CrackBerry..."

His San Francisco design firm, Adaptive Path, now strongly encourages everyone to leave their laptops at their desks. His colleague, Dan Saffer, coined the term "topless" as in "laptop-less." Also booted are mobile and smart-phones, which must be stowed on a counter or in a box during meetings. It took some convincing, but soon people began connecting with one another rather than with their computers, Wilkens said.

"All of our meetings got a lot more productive," he said.

[via Dan Saffer]

The Question to You

Has your team tried some version of topless meetings? How did it work for you? Anybody tried it and given up? How did the meetings change without the toys being on?

wtaylor's picture

"That means you don’t want

"That means you don’t want me to retain anything since I won’t be recording any next actions, etc .."

I think one of the great tasks of the 21st century, will involve our collective learning of the appropriate uses of cybertechnology, and placing this into the greater context of tool useage - alongside our old tools.

Paper & pencil seem to work great for next actions. My MacBook is more powerful than the computers at mission control during the (faux?) moon landing - and provides the possibility and temptation to record too much. Hopefully there is a meeting secretary to get it all down - this is not my task at a meeting.

Once the meeting is out, I can transfer my (hopefully very concise!) "next actions" to whatever tool I might wish to use to track these.

I face this same question when taking notes on a patient interview (I'm a doc). I can type it all (I type fast), & later can sort, search, and actually read this - but there is just something about the nature of the box, a black hole kind of effect, that gets between me & the patient. So caught between this and wanting still to "record it all", I take notes on paper while maintaining eye contact and attention; and videotape the interview to satisfy my need to not miss a stitch.




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