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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?

Vanessa MacDougal's picture

Treat the Cause, Not the Symptom

In my experience, a lot of meetings are a near-total waste of time for many of the participants. I once worked in a department that had near-daily status meetings we all had to attend, even though we weren't collaborating with each other and thus didn't care about the status of other projects. 20 people, 3 minutes apiece. After you deliver your three minutes of status, what are you supposed to do with yourself for 57 minutes?

Of course we all brought our laptops, both to relieve the tedium and to prevent the meetings from being an absolute waste of time. (20 people x 5 hours per week = 100 person-hours per week wasted in these timsuck meetings).

If laptops proliferate at your meetings, ask yourself honestly whether you are wasting people's time. Better yet, ask the meeting participants. Do an anonymous survey if you think they might not be honest with you face-to-face.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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