Let’s meet physically!

I remember a leadership meeting I joined earlier this year. It was scheduled from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. All very important leaders and half of them arrived late. One arrived after the CEO had already started his intro. He had his phone to his ear and was apologizing by pointing to his mobile while searching for the last empty seat. During the meeting, two-thirds were searching for a power-socket for their laptops and spent most of the meeting either with one eye on their mails or on the WhatsApp notifications on their mobiles… 

Lunch break. Everyone ran off and returned late, some even up to 30 minutes. At 3 p.m., two left early to catch their flights back home. The day-to-day reality in our flourishing companies around the globe, driven by the importance of speed and instant communication.

I remember this meeting had been organized to plan the next phase for the business. Most of the participants flew in from different countries around the globe. The cost for the estimated travel and working time of these 15 people amounted to around 50.000 EUR to meet for this single day.

A very similar experience in a German company with about 2.500 employees, during a monthly 2-hour leadership meeting with 12 leaders, including the General Manager. 3 came late with their mobiles stuck to their ears. 5 went out during the meeting excused by urgent calls. The Assistant came into the meeting room twice for urgent requests. Everyone had laptops open and was working through their mails, while the Plant Manager was explaining the importance of their next decision. 

This time less travel. Most participants came from the site, only 2 from other locations. The cost of estimated travel and working time for these 10 people for the 2-hour meeting: 6.000 EUR.

Outcome: No major decisions, arguments, lots of new questions. Most decisions were postponed to the next monthly meeting. One urgent decision was made without alignment because of time pressure. Disagreement and frustration within the team. Lunchtime, everyone hurried out thinking that they could have done so many other urgent things in the time they were trapped in this room…

The General Manager told me afterwards, how frustrated and exhausted he felt after such meetings, and he promised to push everybody harder to focus more in the next one!

Maybe you’re smiling and thinking about your last leadership meeting before March 2020. Reality?

“Let’s meet physically!“

Not now… now there is need for physical distance, but after the corona-crisis let’s rush back to the way we did meetings before. We can’t wait. So many things that need to be driven forward!

But hold on for a moment and imagine:

  • What if we have a different perception after weeks of isolation and online meetings?
  • What if we value the possibility for physical meetings in a new and different way?
  • What if we remember all the good experiences from the rare workshops with time for listening, for observing the whole person’s behaviors, joint excitement, laughing, concentration, discussions with hands and feet, breakthroughs as a group…
  • What if we create the conditions for meetings where we come out with a higher level of energy than when we went in? 

It’s our choice to return after this crisis with a brand-new understanding for the value of physical meetings and the value of travel and time invested for such events. If everyone keeps this in mind, we can contribute to a tangible impact on efficient resource planning and the value of physical meetings for effective cooperation.

I look forward to enabling such physical workshops and to supporting leaders to create a new culture of cooperation by blending all available opportunities for building relationships and organizational results with and without physical distance.

Trust and appreciation are the foundation of cooperation! Leaders are accountable to create the conditions for it!

Stay healthy and set your line of sight to the time after!

Andreas Geh

A leader who is also navigating through this crisis…

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