“People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint”
When an executive team meets to work, a question that helps understand the value of the meeting is: what do we have to achieve together during this meeting that is much more important than what we can do separately during that same time?
Normally, in conventional organizations and following the birth of PowerPoint, the presentation formula was adopted as an effective way to work. In practically in all the companies we have worked, we’ve observed that the presentation culture prevails and meetings, rather than being a space where people think and work, it’s a place where attendees gather passively to ‘watch’ the presentations.
We’ve heard here and there, complaints about no longer wanting to have meetings if it’s just to watch presentations. We’ve seen managers and teams spend hours to prepare presentations just for their boss. This is simply not efficient. As we have said before, the complexity we are experiencing today is greater than it used to. Twenty or thirty years ago, it was viable to use acetates for presentations with forecast graphs of market growth and business plans because predictability and specialization allowed it. Today, however, information in real time, ergo ‘live’, is available and this enables real time decision-making. Therefore, time spent with our team preparing presentations diminishes the time we have to think and decide, add value that is.
In meetings, when we ‘present’, the rest spends most of the meeting time ‘watching’ it and normally only 15% of the remaining time is used for analyzing and decision-making, leaving out issues to be addressed, normally needing a follow up meeting. “Ok, work on it and we’ll review it on our next meeting.” That is to say, meetings are not efficient, at least not enough. If in the business culture the hierarchic system prevails, it’s even less efficient because the presentation is made ‘for the boss’.
In contrast, in resourceful organizations we have found, that teams are aware of the ‘collective’ time value and it’s seen as the most expensive resource the organization has, therefore it must be taken seriously. What could be more important than making decisions, while having the executive team of the company gathered? Nothing. Everything that isn’t making decisions collectively separates the organization from its capacity of constant execution while facing complexity.
Thus, within the corporate culture it is increasingly urgent to ‘kill the PowerPoint’. Because when the team gathers, it’s mandatory to accomplish three things: think, decide and commit.
These are the only three actions that justify, from the cost-benefit perspective, getting the team together. Every time, management gathers to observe presentations, reducing their thinking, deciding and committing, the organization is losing a key opportunity to maneuver.
Later on, we will explore a conscious format for effective meetings. But what we want to bring today to team conversations that have meetings is this central thought: there is nothing that justifies that a executive team spends time together if it’s not to think, decide and commit. Everything else could be called social activities.