Nilofer Merchant’s Wired Op-Ed on walking meetings and her recent TED2013 talk (video to come) raise issues around the integration of our work and living. I’ll offer that while perhaps not all of us can have it all, more of us can have more -- if we are thoughtful about the interactions we have at work. In the Op-Ed, she links to some of my work around mixing human, technical, and practice strategies for particular meeting goals. I’ll extend a bit here.

There’s no one right way to have a meeting, but there is a right way to decide.

Decide when and how to have a walking meeting based on a quick check of who’s attending, the goal, and expected follow-up. Brainstorming, for example, deserves some record (in my brainstorming about this topic I’m thinking about a GoPro camera for meetings rather than aerobatics) and I’d love to see your inputs here for more linking type of meeting to type of creative outcome.

The Decision to Go For a Walk

  • Is this meeting about:
    • Engagement (mentoring, feedback, motivation)
    • Exercise (the walk was going to happen, might as well take a colleague)
    • Planning or other decision making
    • Inspiration, idea generation
  • Are you the kind of person who can keep your phone put away?
  • Do you have the tech and skills in using that tech that won’t kill the joint goal of the meeting and the walk?

Technology Might, or Might Not, Get in the Way

Nilofer mentions Siri (Apple’s iPhone voice app) and I’ve certainly used this approach to take a quick note while talking with others -- but, if it takes multiple tries, Siri may create a barrier during the meeting. I’m talking to Siri. I’m not talking to you. You’re not involved in the discussion with Siri. Same story if you’re typing in Evernote or the like.

A Mix of Technology and Method Could Create Greater Engagement & Commitment

Technology doesn’t have to create a barrier.

Imagine a great idea during your walking meeting. Now think of how you can create a memory in a way that helps all the people in the meeting participate. Think of, “Oh, great idea. How can we remember that?” ..and then jointly create an image and take a picture. It could be written in the dust of the trail. You might make a short video of the group explaining: “Great, let’s capture that (keep walking and tell the story).” Capturing the idea in a unique and jointly created way may be far better than my usual suggestion of jointly taking notes using a shared document or shared screen at the front of the conference room.

Upload the video to YouTube or the like and then later make use of the automatic closed captioning to search to the specific place where you have the great idea. If you need enterprise quality transcription, search, and security, consider a tool like vSearch, provided by Altus365. (See cool video below.)

Try a Walking Meeting for Fun, and For Your and Your Colleagues’ Health

A wealth of occupational health psychology literature has established that negative workplace characteristics are linked with employee stress and health consequences. Let’s take a few steps, maybe even 10,000, toward changing that.

See video