Over at The Extraordinary Team Blog, Kristin Arnold published an interesting piece titled “Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make When Convening on Off-Site or Retreat.” Kristin’s piece focused on the scenario of an off-site meeting planned by the CEO of a $400MM manufacturing company. Based on Mistake #3 (“Invite Everyone”), I gather that the meeting ought to focus on the core executive team of the company – perhaps the CEO’s direct reports.
Consider Online Platforms
I agree that for a small and focused group (e.g. 10 or less), gathering everyone at an off-site location is quite effective. Let’s consider other scenarios, however, in which a 100% online meeting – or, a hybrid meeting (which blends an off-site location with a digital extension) can make a lot of sense.
Reaching the Wider Management Team
What if the CEO wanted to communicate to a wider management team, perhaps all Directors and above? At a $400MM company, chances are that the management team aregeographically distributed across numerous locations. In this scenario, holding a 100% online meeting could be quite efficient: everyone attends from their office (or home office).
Kristin writes, “Each person you invite costs the company – in wages, opportunity costs, and increased meeting complexity.” With an online meeting, however, the incremental cost for each attendee is zero, other than the investment you make in the online platform. An online meeting can be planned in a matter of minutes. You don’t need to book a meeting facility months in advance – and, you save on travel, lodging and “out of office” costs.
Efficiency in Q&A and Feedback
In a physical setting, a CEO may see five hands raised (for questions). S/he can’t know, however, what each person may ask about. In an online setting, the CEO can invite questions – and, see all questions as they’re submitted. From there, the CEO can select the most relevant questions and choose to answer them. And that’s efficient, from a time and usefulness perspective.
More Honest (and More) Feedback
Even if you’ve reached a Director level position in your company, you may be less inclined to speak up (in a room full of executives) compare to your peers. In an online platform, however, you find that people are more open and honest. The resistance to speak up diminishes and senior executives receive the benefit for more feedback – and, more honest feedback.
I’m certainly not one to argue that the off-site (physical) meeting should go away. On the other hand, I do think there are scenarios (as I’ve outlined above) where they make perfect sense.
Post contributed by Dennis Shiao