Skip to main content

Meetings, Communication, and Creativity: A Conversation with Elise Keith and Dave Mastronardi

By Megan Notarte

Published on August 14th, 2023


Are you tired of the same old meetings? Feeling stuck in a communication rut? In our latest Cloud Four Spotlight, we were fortunate to be joined by two incredible guests, Elise Keith and Dave Mastronardi, who shared their insights on revolutionizing how we approach meetings, foster creativity, and communicate more effectively.

Elise and Dave explained their joint experiment known as The New Rules for Work, which was born from a response to a study claiming that online meetings kill creativity. They questioned the results of that study and decided to run their own experiment to explore creativity in more real-world situations.

The experiment started with a symposium (recorded sessions available) and a study to learn how technology and location impact team performance in a creative problem-solving sort of setting. You can help! They are actively recruiting teams for this 90-minute experiment, with results to be shared in a festival in January. (I say this in the video a few times, but I’ll restate here, too: the experiment was fun! Definitely sign up!)

Elise and Dave also highlighted some preliminary findings, including that complete strangers can produce solid outcomes in just an hour, regardless of the medium used. They emphasize the complexity of evaluating creativity and the uniqueness of each group’s approach.

We also dove into what makes a good meeting and discussed the announcement that Shopify made last month that they are now displaying the estimated meeting cost with scheduled meetings at their company. We talked about the pros and cons of this approach, and Elise gave practical tips for making meetings more productive and effective. (Can you say PMQ and NPI? There’s a science to it!)

Megan Notarte: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us today. I am so incredibly lucky to have Elise Keith and Dave Mastronati with me today. We’re going to talk about meetings and communication and creativity and who knows what else, because this is always a fun little journey that we take together. So first, I want to talk about you two. You two are busy people. You have got your hands in a lot of things and I had prepared to like give a little blurb about who you are, what you do. And then I was like, no, these two amazing people should tell us about themselves. So tell me how you describe what you do and where people can find you. Maybe we’ll start with you, Elise.

Elise Keith: Yeah, so I am the CEO and founder of a company called Lucid Meetings, where we focus on everyday meetings, so how to make the things that teams and companies do every single day successful on a reliable basis. And as part of that, we do a lot of innovation work, we do research projects and experiments and work with the technology companies, and that is part of how we got involved in the experiment we’re going to talk about today.

Megan Notarte: Very cool. I have some experience with Lucid meetings. So that is a very interesting tool. Dave, tell us about you.

Dave Mastronardi: Hi, Megan. Uh, yeah, my name is David Mastronardi. I am the CEO and founder of Gamestorming Group. And I’ve always been interested ever since I had an experience when I was working at a large agency, and I came across, we’ll call them enabling techniques, and I had this realization that nobody teaches you how to work. And so ever since then, I’ve been really exploring those techniques and in Gamestorming Group my mission is to try and bring those techniques to other people to free them up to allow them, whether they think they are in a creative role or not to be creative. Cause I think everybody wants to be creative. They have little “c” creativity in them. And it’s really about exploring different techniques to give yourself a sense of agency and a sense of freedom at work by approaching work in non-traditional ways.

Megan Notarte: Love it. I imagine for both of you that things have gotten more interesting over the last couple of years. More people may be interested in ways of encouraging that kind of innovation, given that we’re all working in different ways. Has it changed a lot? Either one of you can take that.

Dave Mastronardi: Yeah. So, I couldn’t tell. Well, it just looks like some of the cameras are different pixelated and I saw movement and I didn’t know if Elise was going for it. Yeah. I think it depends on what you’re looking at from a change standpoint. A lot of things have still remained the same. You still have to get work done. You, there are still goals and there are still measures and there are, uh, you have to develop relationships with your work, with the people at work. So I think a lot of the what has remained the same, but of course a lot of the how has changed, and going back it was going much slower. It was certainly accelerated with COVID and I think that’s where what you participated in and how we got in touch through The New Rules for Work. We are looking to define what exactly is changed, what’s staying the same, and how do we how do we change in relationship to the nature of the technology changing, the work that’s changing, but also some of those things that remain constant in that work journey.

Megan Notarte: Right. You mentioned The New Rules for Work. Elise, can you tell me about the whole thing? I attended the symposium in January and I think that the sessions are available online. Is that right?

Elise Keith: That’s right. Yeah.

Megan Notarte: We’ll drop a link below or whatever. And then you’ve done a series of experiments. So Elise, can you tell me about like how you got to the new rules for work and what exactly it is?

Elise Keith: Yeah, so as we went through the pandemic, everybody moved to online for a period of time doing knowledge work. And that meant we were doing a lot of virtual meetings. And as we’ve come out of it, there has been this tension between whether we get back into the office. And some of that has to do with real estate prices and this ineffable serendipity that people think that they want. But some of it has to do with this perception that when we’re together, we work better. And in May of last year, there was a study that came out in Nature that looked at specifically how online meetings impacted creativity. And the study’s conclusion, as it was picked up by the popular media, was Zoom kills creativity. So we thought, well, golly, that’s kind of odd because in… Dave’s work, my work, we spent a lot of the pandemic figuring out how to be creative online with people around the world. People we would have never been able to reach in any other way. So we looked at the methodology and Dave looked at it and he thought, well, gee, that isn’t quite what I do in my Gamestorming Group, so what did you do, Dave?

Dave Mastronardi: Well, I wrote about it. Quite harshly, I would say. But yes, Elise is absolutely right. When I looked at the methodology, I thought this didn’t look like anything that was actually done by people who would practice in this, whether you were a professional facilitator or this was facilitation or meetings in collaboration and creativity that were just part of your day-to-day job and other responsibilities. There were no stakes to it. And it seemed more like the study was done for the rigor of the peer review than it was to actually evaluate creativity in real work or real world situations. So yes, I wrote about it and Elise responded to it.

Elise Keith: So he took it on and he’s like, oh, this is awful and all of that, and went after the academic world. Well, in my work, I do a lot of work with academics, looking at the science of how people interact and the science of meetings. And I thought, hmm, you know, we don’t necessarily make great progress by calling each other out as wrong on the Internet. What if instead, we were to work together to run a new experiment based on the kinds of things we know work, right? So for the digital agency folks, I mean, if you ever do user studies, if you ever do storyboarding, if you ever do a Kanban board, if you do things and you work visually in any way, you know you can do that digitally. You know you can use some of these tools to do some sketching and whatnot. We’re like, so what if we brought some of that in rather than just yelling at each other over a Google Doc that we experimented with it to see whether or not being online versus in the room, when we run something that looks closer to what we would actually do in real life, still has the same kind of impact. So we began last year, last January, we said, well, if we’re gonna test the best possible methodologies, we should probably do some work to figure out what those might be. Dave and I have our opinions, the academics have their opinions. That’s pretty myopic. Let’s see if we get some more people involved. So we ran the symposium and that’s available online. It was three days of sessions. It was pretty slick. So Megan, you just have to share what you thought about it. And then developed the study methodology, which is currently underway. So the study itself consists of basically a 90-minute online or in-person experience. And we are actively recruiting new teams. So anybody who’s interested in participating can contribute to this. We’ll talk to you. It’ll be awesome. It’s totally fun. And then next January, we’re having a festival to share what we learned.

Megan Notarte: That is so cool. I will say, that the experiment was fun. I was prepared to talk to people I didn’t know, which was cool. And we had to change our names so you didn’t know who the people were, which I assume is part of the randomization or anonymization of the experiment. But I liked some of them and I wish I knew who they were. Some of the people I collaborated with, I was like… person was so smart. I wish I knew who they were so I could connect with them. So there you have attracted some fun people but it was fun. I will say that I was disappointed that we came up with the same solution apparently that is quite common. But I felt it when we were we were doing it. I felt like I was trying to be pragmatic in the experiment that we were given. How much can we talk about what is in the experiment and how much of that is like you know, required to be new to someone when they join it.

Elise Keith: We can talk about it very little.

Megan Notarte: Okay, cool.

Megan Notarte: I won’t say anymore.

Dave Mastronardi: Yeah, no spoilers.

Megan Notarte: No spoilers.

Dave Mastronardi: I think it’s important if people want to join that they’re not predisposed to any of the activities or the specific challenges that we’d be going into, but we can talk about these things at an abstracted level, some initial findings.

Megan Notarte: Perfect because I would love, I know, I know you shared with us after the experiment, some of the findings, but I would love it if you could tell us a little bit about what you’re learning. And like, if there’s anything that’s kind of coming to the surface already, so you’re, what about six months, seven months into it? Into the actual experiment?

Dave Mastronardi: Yeah. We really, we really launched, uh, the six, seven months is post-symposium, but we had a lot to do there in terms of picking, testing the agenda, um, getting IRB approval so that we can, we can do this –

Elise Keith: That took forever.

Dave Mastronardi: It, it took a long time. There’s a lot of processes and a lot
of hoops.

Megan Notarte: The red tape.

Dave Mastronardi: It’s a, it’s been very interesting where we come from in the practitioner world. And we just do. There are, right, there’s a lot of processes, red tape, signatures to get before you can go out and you can do a study like this that, you know, we’d like to get this published. And so you have to go through these steps to get it done. But going back to something that you said, Megan, about your experience; I think that you didn’t know anybody, right, in that group? And so I think that’s one of the first observations that we’ve had is having done, I think we’re up to 14, 15, and you know, 40 plus teams say. Coming out of almost every one of those experiments and, I would say most of teams, not, not every team, but, people have gotten to know one another. They’ve been through something. So they’ve developed some sort of relationship akin to what you mentioned. You wish – how do we stay in touch? I think some people have shared LinkedIn profiles and things like that. But the other part of it from a procedural or what can we learn from a meeting or work standpoint is we have yet to have a team that doesn’t produce a thing, a concept, regardless of what it is.

Megan Notarte: They actually do something.

Dave Mastronardi: Which is another thing that we can talk about because creativity is hard. So we’ve taken complete strangers in an hour, they have worked together to produce something. And I think that is in all mediums, or in all modes, hybrid, in-person, online.

Megan Notarte: yeah, so it’s worth saying that these experiments, the study that you’re conducting is not just about remote working together. It is about working together and being creative in in-person sessions and hybrid sessions and in remote sessions, is that right?

Dave Mastronardi: Yeah, and comparing them and seeing if the mode makes a difference.

Elise Keith: Correct. Yeah.

Megan Notarte: What’s the, is there a hypothesis? I know, like I remember back to college studies, like we would often go in with a hypothesis. Is there a hypothesis you had to develop for this?

Elise Keith: So this one’s a little bit different that way. So the overarching question is, how does technology and location impact team performance in a creative problem-solving sort of setting? But because this is sort of a collaborative project, so it’s sort of a quasi-experimental field study between practitioners and then a number of academics. So we have academics involved who study meetings. We have some who study creativity. We have some who study things like communication patterns and styles between folks from different backgrounds. So they’re looking at elements of psychological safety and belonging and those kinds of social cues. And we have some folks who look at things like how the ways that we interact or prefer to interact in groups of people, impact our success at different steps of the innovation process. So you’ve got all of these different lenses coming in on it. So one of our goals is to create this sort of really substantial body of evidence, this corpus of data that can be used to answer a lot of different questions. For

Megan Notarte: And sort of like, I was gonna say, it’s kind of a rebuttal to the Nature study a little.

Elise Keith: Yeah, and I think, you know, to be fair to the Nature study, like that study was robust, you know, they did a great job of isolating the variable they were trying to test.

Megan Notarte: Got it.

Elise Keith: Right.

Dave Mastronardi: And it was awfully nuanced, I think, in what it was stating. And it wasn’t really until the business press that picked it up and hyperbolized it.

Megan Notarte: Of course, right.

Dave Mastronardi: I think that’s when it drew our ire a little bit more so than the initial studies.

Megan Notarte: when it kind of got simplified as it does when it’s covered by the press.

Dave Mastronardi: Yeah, we didn’t, I don’t know that we had much of an issue with what the study said. But that headline kind of changes things. What we looked at more and we said, I would never do this particular methodology. This is nothing I would do to actually spark creativity. Actually, a lot of what we saw on the original methodology might dull creativity. It might have the opposite effect. So we said, let’s just do something that we think, we think is better. We did open it up to a lot of other people who I would say are like-minded, but just something that you would walk into a a room or walk into a Zoom with somebody who knows what they’re doing, they’ve been there before.

Megan Notarte: Sure.

Megan Notarte: Makes sense. So what have you learned that you can share so far besides the fact that, hey, groups of people are coming together and actually accomplishing something in an hour?

Elise Keith: Well, I guess, you know, a simple learning for me that’s been very, very clear is that if you are doing this kind of work in a digital medium, right, especially if you’re running the show and you’ve got zoom going on and whatever tool you’re going to use. So we use both mural and storms for depending on which version of the process you use and things are going on in the chat. You need a really big monitor. I know that’s a really basic kind of finding, but oh my gosh, trying to do that on a tiny laptop is a nightmare. It’s so awful. It’s not impossible, but it’s so awkward.

Megan Notarte: Impossible.

Dave Mastronardi: And I’d add to that, sometimes it’s multiple devices. It’s kind of counterintuitive to what people are saying when you’re working at home. Don’t get distracted with other devices. But whether it’s a large monitor or a smaller monitor, but that’s where you’re working and maybe you’ve got an iPad or a phone set up and that’s where you’re doing.

Elise Keith: Or your watch for timers, you know.

Dave Mastronardi: Right, so other devices, again, it might be counter because we hear so much about how we’re getting distracted by our other devices and the things around us when we’re on a Zoom meeting, but they can actually, if you’re purposeful about it, you can create a bigger monitor with smaller multiple monitors and screens.

Megan Notarte: Sure. Use the evil for good. Yeah.

Dave Mastronardi: But they’re focused, right? But they’re focused, the watch is for the timer. And so I don’t have to worry about like switching applications on my small 13-inch laptop screen to find the timer and then get back to the digital whiteboard and then get over to the Zoom to unmute myself to answer that question, right? So if you’ve got a little bit of a control setup that can certainly help out.

Elise Keith: So that’s a really basic learning, right? We definitely are seeing, and then of course when you run it in person, you’ve got a bunch of stuff. So there’s a whole bunch of stuff to deal with, but the stuff is kind of cool. We’re definitely seeing behavioral differences between the in-person and the online versions. They are different, and they are different in ways that matter, I think, for how we feel about our time together. They don’t yet appear to be hugely different in terms of what we see on paper. Like, as our publishable result.

Megan Notarte: Like, outcomes.

Elise Keith: But we’re super early still and we have a bunch more work to do before that can be validated.

Megan Notarte: How long does this run? Like when do you expect to be wrapped with the experiments and start compiling and analyzing the research?

Elise Keith: October.

Megan Notarte: Cool, that’s soon.

Elise Keith: We would love to have 95 of your best friends sign up to run this with their teams. Any team of six to ten people, please get in touch because we want to get as many iterations in as possible between here and October.

Megan Notarte: I love this and I will pitch it one more time that it was fun, it was a good time and the people were all very interesting. So we’ll drop a link to connect with you too about that. I wanted to spend a tiny bit of time talking about meetings. And I know Elise, it’s a big focus of your work at Lucid Meetings. I imagine Dave, you spend some time thinking about GameStorming meetings. Recently Shopify made the news because they started posting the time or the cost of the time spent in that meeting associated when you look at like, the meeting calendar invite or something. And man, it is so easy to hate on meetings. Like, it’s so easy to be like, what a waste of time. And especially if you work at a large company that doesn’t have a good meeting culture, you know, it can be that way. Um, but I had definitely had some feelings about that, that cost thing being, um, surfaced and I was kind of curious what your take was on things like that. Elise, maybe you take it.

Elise Keith: Well, yeah, so Shopify is trying something that’s been tried for 30 years. So when we first started Lucid Meetings, I did some of my competitive studies like you do, right? Who else is already doing this? And I was like, oh, look, there are all these companies that are making money doing calendars and doing agenda stuff. And wouldn’t that be cool? I guess we’ll do that too, but we’ll do it better. And then we’ll win the market, which turned out to be completely dumb, but I didn’t know it at the time.
Elise Keith: I have seen people try this calculator approach over and over and over again, and it never works. I mean, it’s novel and it gets people to shift behavior for like maybe a couple weeks, but that is not the problem. And basically, anytime you are looking at an entire company’s worth of stuff and you’re saying we’re going to do something about meetings, you’re missing the boat. You’re starting fundamentally from the wrong place. That word, as you’ve mentioned, has this hugely negative social connotation. Meetings, I’ve got a meeting, is the excuse we use when we can’t call our mom right now, thank you very much. Right? It’s

Megan Notarte: Mom, I am never lying about having a meeting. My parents definitely watch this. Dad, when I can’t answer, I really am in a meeting.

Elise Keith: Right. So we’re using the word at all, we’re using it in this like social obligation sort of signal. But when we’re doing work with other people on our teams, we shouldn’t be using that word. We should be using language that describes what we’re trying to do together, you know, which is why agile has things like its stand up and the retro and the whatnot. Don’t talk about meetings. Talk about the goal.

Megan Notarte: But we just add the word “meeting” to that. I have a standup meeting. I’m doing a retrospective meeting. We can’t not say it.

Elise Keith: You so can. You so can. Challenge yourself not to use that word at all on your calendar.

Megan Notarte: Okay.

Elise Keith: Never put it on the calendar. And then when you look at it, you say, okay, what is it that’s taking up all my time I shouldn’t be doing? You know. And by the way, don’t cheat. No sinks. No discusses. No catch-ups. None of those. All right, like get clear. Elise Keith: What are you trying to do? Yeah, what are you trying to do? Um, hey, podcast. Okay, got it. Right.

Elise Keith: This interview. Okay. Right. We’re going to problem solve this problem. We’re going to make this decision. Yes, that belongs on your calendar.

Megan Notarte: Purpose driven

Megan Notarte: Yeah. Yeah, I agree, too. I think it’s solving the wrong. It’s solving the wrong problem. Like, if people have wasteful time, it’s not the meeting’s fault. It’s whatever is encouraging them to get that thing on the calendar and not take it off. And putting the cost on there might actually encourage or discourage people from putting something on their calendar that needs to happen. And that seems to me like maybe a bad trade-off. I don’t know.

Dave Mastronardi: Another way to think of it is when you put those costs on that right that that’s essentially the value you’ve placed in those resources and so instead of saying that that’s waste of that time think about maybe a multiplier effect when you get high-value resources together like that shouldn’t there be a multiplier effect instead of saying well, let’s just not put them together How can I? Am paying these people to be very smart or because they are smart and they have a history of being smart and providing value in other places, how do I get the most out of them? And I think what you’re talking about just as soon as you take meeting off and you call it a little bit more descriptive, it gives it a purpose. And I know that I’ve heard Elise talk about that all the time. Instead of having it a judge, you should have a purpose. If you know what the purpose of the meeting is, and I think that’s a, is it a hack? Just to take the meeting off and just call it what podcast. Oh, I know what that is. I can be much more purposely prepared for it and I will be able to provide more value when I’m in that room. But I think you can do things in meetings that you can’t do in any other form of work. There’s of course some things that can be shifted offline and be more asynchronous. Yeah, but instead of saying we wanna limit these really smart people getting together, which just… If you have that in a vacuum, that sounds really stupid. I hired all these people so they could be together and they could do work together. Uh, think about how you would maximize that value as opposed to cost cut.

Megan Notarte: Yeah. It also seems counterintuitive to like this trend that bigger companies seem to have and like, how can we increase serendipitous collisions and like, you know, knowledge sharing and stuff like that.

Dave Mastronardi: Right.

Megan Notarte: I was like, yeah, let’s make it a little bit more stigmatized to meet together. I don’t know.

Dave Mastronardi: I want the smart people at my company, my biggest cost, but also my biggest value to be bouncing into one another. One other, can I ask this, I don’t think we’ve talked about this. So Megan, you brought up Shopify, right? So I just looked at Shopify’s stock price, and I’m guessing they went public in 2015. Their stock is up 2,236% all time. It’s up 312% over five years. You can cut this part out because maybe it undercuts everything we just said about improving meeting culture.

Megan Notarte: Hahaha!

Dave Mastronardi: And maybe the stock could be much higher. But I wonder if this is one of those middling problems that never gets solved because as big of a headline as maybe that made, they’re doing more than fine.

Elise Keith: Yeah, I think, I mean, you know, there’s one of the other trends that I see, because when I work with larger companies that are going through some of those growth curves and whatnot, is that what you can do at the executive level is you can do mandates. Right. So C-suite way up top, they can say, OK, we’re going to have a no meetings Friday. That’s actually a more effective mandate than a cost cutting or cut all of the meetings or whatnot. You know, having reserve time. And then they can set direction and sort of guardrails around how meetings ought to work within the company. But the work of making meetings effective happens at the project level, it happens at the department level. And that’s, if it hasn’t started early, and a lot of people don’t start it early because you don’t need to, right? When you’re a tiny startup, you don’t need meeting design, you don’t need meeting systems. but you absolutely do as you grow. So if they miss that transition point in terms of putting those systems in, it’s really up to the people working a level or two down to get clear on when and how they need to meet to be most effective. So part of the reason we see that is that, A, the CEO can’t do anything about project manager meetings, or they shouldn’t be doing too much about that. That’s just a silly way for their attention to be focused. So.

Dave Mastronardi: But they could set the approach that should drip through or drip down to those project meetings.

Elise Keith: They can do that, right? And then, and then of course, what happens is they get busy and things change and the supply chain changes or they’ve reorg or what, whatever. And all the people who are meant to put those things in place are now confused. So the more confusion you get, the more people meet to try and figure out what the heck are we doing?

Megan Notarte: Well, and that this is an easy technological solution, right? Like, but the problem is actually a cultural problem that’s harder to solve. I am sure this is one part of like, the part that gets a lot of press and is easy for people to talk about. I wanna talk about the features, the features of a good productive meeting and how we encourage creativity in remote and hybrid environments. So maybe we talk about. Elise, maybe you could take the features of a good productive meeting.

Elise Keith: You bet. So you need essentially two things, high PMQ and NPI. And these are science-y acronyms.

Megan Notarte: Uh-huh.

Elise Keith: PMQ stands for Perceived Meeting Quality. So each and every person in that room needs to perceive that they participated, actively participated, in a meeting that was high quality, so a high return for their time invested. So that means they know why they’re there. Why they’re there is relevant to the work that they’re doing. And they actively participate in shaping what happens. That’s qualitatively what you want to see come out of it. NPI, Net Positive Impact. We get more for the time we spend in that meeting than we spent. So that calculator that Dave was talking about, that investment part, it cost us that much, but we just saved ourselves four days of back-and-forth email because we had one meeting that got us to the answer we needed. So those two qualities –

Megan Notarte: Yep, that’s that multiplication effect.

Elise Keith: And the only thing you truly, truly need, if you’re very, very clear, to achieve that is clarity of purpose, which is the verb, the why we’re here. We’re here to make a decision, make a plan, record a podcast, and clarity on the outcomes that you should have by the time you leave.

Megan Notarte: Love it.

Elise Keith: We want a recording, a decision, a list. Between those things, most adults, if it’s short enough and a small enough group, can connect the dots and get the job done. If it’s a big enough group, if it’s complex, then you turn to things like what Dave does.

Megan Notarte: Cool, let’s hear about that. So, tell us about that, Dave.

Dave Mastronardi: Yeah, there’s creativity. Again, it depends the purpose of the meeting. I think some of the things that we see go wrong a lot of times, and often I’m called in to do things like help build a board game for a user conference. So it’s maybe creative in nature, but nonetheless, it’s still gotta follow the the natural laws of meetings, as Elise was pointing out. We want to make this thing by the end. And going, tying this back into the new rules for work and what we were talking about, how everybody, every team that we’ve had so far has come up with a concept, they’ve achieved the outcome. It’s because we knew what the outcome was, and we designed a process that got them there. Actually with quite, in some cases, little interference from the facilitator, if you will.

Megan Notarte: Mm-hmm.

Dave Mastronardi: Um, you know, designing the process and we use an Open, Explore, Closed. So, Divergent, Emergent, Convergent. A lot of times we see the convergent phase gets short-shifted, especially in those. Well, we have to come up with a new, uh, product feature or a new product. How could we market our audience? And we’re looking to brainstorm. And a lot of times you forget to narrow that down and, oh, we have to think about this in terms of next steps, because it’s very fun to brainstorm and think of new ideas. And so you don’t want to kill that buzz. You don’t want to kill that vibe. And so one of the things that you forget to do is to go into your, what we call closing phase and prioritize things, make your lists, and come up with your decisions in next steps. Another thing that you can do to help maximize the time. And I think this goes into a lot of that value creation in like feeling you contributed is you can break people up into small groups. And I think this has become maybe popular or more pedestrian with Zoom because you have the breakout room feature and that’s what we do. And it almost seems like you do the breakout room feature because of some sort of technical limitation on a big group discussion, but it’s also something you can absolutely do when you’re in the same room with 12 people. If somebody has a question or you just wanna establish in the beginning of the meeting, what are we here to do, right? Set the purpose. Give people two or three minutes to turn to the person next to them and have a conversation. I think you engage more personality types, and you’re gonna get a multiplier effect on those three minutes where everybody is feeling that they are participating, and then you have the share out at the end of that, where if for those 12 people, just going around, imagine if you have just gone around the room and asked each of the 12 people to, what are we here to do? It would take up the whole meeting time. So you can use those breakout room, techniques in an in-person meeting as well. We like to do a lot of stuff with Post-it notes in digital and getting the thoughts out there as well. And then having people distill them and put them into groups. And that’s another, we’ll call it time or value amplifier.

Megan Notarte: I noticed your whole wall behind you is Post-It notes. So I find that shocking.

Megan Notarte: Do you find that the virtual Post-It note experience is the same as when we’re in a room, and we’re able to like, put things up on a board and talk about them that way. And that may be the same. It’s not going to be the same but outcomes are the same?

Dave Mastronardi: I think this is where you really have to be careful. We, Elise kind of dangled out in front of me another article, she said, I think this might be another one that you would have fun reacting to, kind of like. And it was about this, it was about, well, now there’s all these digital whiteboards and the quality of the post-it note and a digital whiteboard is marginally approaching zero because you have infinite space, right? So you can just create another post-it note. So this is where I don’t think it has to be, but going back to process, you can’t just buy a license for any kind of software. This has been true of any software and think that the software itself is going to solve the problem. It has to be matched with the people in the process. So yeah, if you’re just gonna let people post up on a digital whiteboard and you didn’t do anything to prime beforehand, or you’re not going to do anything with those post-it notes afterwards. Yeah. I agree. But if you have a process around it and how you’re going to be using it, um, and people are going to be breaking up into small groups and they’re going to be discussing it and they, uh, they feel like they have some stakes in, in the process in the creation, they’re going to, I think, put just as much, you know, time and effort into crafting a post-it note digitally as they would in person.

Elise Keith: I have a friend who does architecture work and physical space design who hates post-its notes with a passion because he’s only ever experienced them as a sort of innovation theater. Hey, we’re gonna all feel so wonderfully creative and do team building because we’ve done sticky notes today. And what that perspective misses is that the point is not the post-it note. The Post-it note is a way to help externalize our thoughts. You can do it in Post-it notes. You can do it 100 different ways. But that is one of those features of an excellent meeting is the group is co-creating.

Megan Notarte: Yeah.

Elise Keith: Maybe they’re co-creating fabulous meeting notes. Maybe they’re co-creating updates on a user story in their bug tracker. But working together at the same time. One of the facilitators we work with recently had a great way of putting what needs to be happening. As we go more asynchronous, as we say, hey, don’t meet, all this kind of stuff, what we’re doing is we’re getting people and we’re assigning them tasks and then we’re dividing them to do the work. It’s just, you know, we need to be dividing the work, not the team. Divide and conquer the work, not the team. And when you get people in those small groups working together in real-time, that’s amazing. You can accomplish amazing things so much faster with two to three people looking at the same problem at the same time. So, co-create.

Megan Notarte: This is a great way of ending on this inspirational message about co-creating. Thank you both so very much. This was very enlightening. And I feel like I still have a million questions, but I am running out of time. So we will post how to reach both of you with our video. And thank you so very much.

Leave a Comment

Please be kind, courteous and constructive. You may use simple HTML or Markdown in your comments. All fields are required.