It’s time for chairpersons to wake up and smell the coffee. It’s time for them to start playing a leading role when it comes to the acceptance and implementation of paperless meeting in their organization. Perhaps the term ‘paperless meeting’ is misleading. It makes many people think that it’s just a ‘thing’ for secretaries, or for gadget freaks. I want to put forward some arguments why chairpersons and people in charge of the meeting mores in an organization should make the case for paperless meeting.
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Over the years we have helped many customers make the switch to paperless meeting. During that time we’ve noticed that two groups take the initiative. Firstly, the back office who are fed up with endlessly copying and compiling meeting sets. Secondly, the owners of tablets who can see the benefits of using their devices for meetings.
Strikingly, chairpersons hardly ever take the initiative. A shame really, because this lack of initiative lets them and their organization down. We are convinced that in the immediate future chairpersons could benefit enormously from paperless meeting.
But first we have to explain what paperless meeting is. People often tell us: “Paperless meeting? We’re already doing that. We e-mail meeting sets and take minutes on the laptop.” Or they say “We place all documents in a SharePoint folder.”
This is good, sure, but as far as we are concerned, ‘paperless meeting’ goes so much further. To us paperless meeting is an integrated system for decisions-making. A meeting is a tool to make take decisions. And for this, the link between time and place is no longer obvious.
In control of output
We meet a lot. But how effective is it? Things could be improved during the meeting, but more on that later. The lack of follow-up is an even bigger problem. How many decisions are taken that are not or only half followed through? Particularly when it takes a longer period of time, many decisions just disappear off the radar. People who sit through two or three meetings after a decisions was taken, often don’t even remember that a decision was taken. Let alone when months have passed.
Of course there are consequences when decisions are not being followed through. After all, decisions are not taken for nothing. Irrespective of the decision content, what does it mean for your meeting? For one, the meeting time used to take that decisions was a waste of time. And to a certain degree this also applies to the time participants have spent on preparing for the meeting.
This is the area where paperless meeting can give the chairperson in particular more control of meeting output and the question whether decisions and actions have actually been followed through and carried out. A paperless meeting decision gives an overview of decisions and actions, making the output quickly transparent.
More control during the meeting
Behavior becomes measurable. That is the undeniable trend in society. We speak of the ‘quantified self’, because people are permanently monitoring their behaviour by means of apps. Any decent smartphone has a pedometer these days. Day in, day out, your phone registers your coming and going. Before you know it you’ve created a rich database full of insights about your behavior over a longer period of time. Behavior that can be analyzed and yields management information. The same goes for paperless meeting. It not only automates the process but creates a rich data pool full of interesting insights into (collective) meeting behavior. Behavior that can be analyzed and from which lessons can be drawn.
Control before the meeting
Until yesterday a meeting started when all participants gathered at predetermined time and location. In short, a meeting was a rather static affair. Paperless meeting makes meetings more dynamic. An agenda can be edited right up until the last. New information can be added right up until the last moment. Participants can create notes or questions that they can share digitally. With each other, with the chairperson and the organization. Any errors or ambiguities that first were discovered during the meeting, can now be tackled before the meeting. Complete agenda items can be deleted or moved to a later meeting. All this to gain quicker insight into information and information needs
The chairperson’s influence
The person with the most influence on the quality of the decision-making process is the chairperson. Therefore this plea to chairpersons to really use their influence. Too often paperless meeting or digital meeting is just something for the back office. Or gadget freaks. But if you really want to improve your meetings and consequently your decision-making, then you as the chairperson should play an essential part.
Critical discussion partners wanted
We want to develop new tools that improve the quality of decision-making during meetings. We believe that big data analysis can help us with this. We are looking for committed chairpersons that want to engage with use in discussion about these developments. Interested? Please contact met mij op!