One of the essential challenges in successfully facilitating remote meetings is that—to put not too fine a point on it—they are online. Our normal meeting software is great for seeing and hearing the other person—as long as they don’t forget to unmute themselves—but for the most part that is all we get. If we want a different level of interaction, we need to think differently about what engagement looks like. The good news is that there are an enormous number of options with which to do exactly that.
In thinking about how to facilitate strategic discussions in a not face-to-face environment, it is easy to treat the exercise as simply translating in-person activities into an online environment. I believe that is a trap. The reality is that even in person we don’t often conduct good meetings, and we rarely leverage the full diversity of the people at the table. For complex and messy we substitute simple and easy. In discussing strategically important questions online, that is a potential recipe for disaster.
Strategic engagement is hard at the best of times. When we have to do it remotely while working through a pandemic, it gets that much more complicated. We often think of online meeting solutions as a poor substitute for communicating in person. Used conventionally, they arguably are. So how can we rethink how we engage in strategic conversations online in a way that makes them work exceptionally well? Some initial thoughts.