Re: Using Silence in Meeting LO2787
Wed, 13 Sep 1995 09:17:59 -0700 (PDT)

Replying to LO2758 --

In LO2758 Barry Mallis talks also about the issues surrounding agendas,
why they are or aren't used.

I think it's kinda like getting people to use outlines. Even though an
outline can be of great value in giving structure and focus to a paper,
there was something about the act or nature of outlining that made it less
than welcome as a working tool. My guess is that there is too much of a
discontinuity between the outline and the final product. You have to use
different pieces of paper, and you have to maintain a distinction between
the processes of structuring and concept formulation -- a distinction that
is often dysfunctional. With the integration of outlining in
wordprocessing tools (specifically Microsoft Word, earlier, products like
ThinkTank and MORE), the outlining process becomes part of the creative
process, seemless, it seems. And with this kind of integration, the writer
can shift, as needed, between the framing and the fleshing out.

I think agendas don't work because, like outlines, they need to be
integrated with the working process. Yes, they also need to be created
collaboratively, and if they aren't then their functionality will always
succumb to organizational issues. But if they are generated
collaboratively, and continually, they can become an invaluable tool for
focusing and providing continuity to our conversations. And, yes, the
electronic outline is much more useful of a tool, because it is more
responsive (or can be made that way), especially if used "live" on a
projected computer screen, as a tool for guiding and capturing dialog.
Because in their electronic form, agendas become as flexible and
modifiable as they should have been in the first place.

Now, about silence in meetings... Of course, yes, it can be very useful,
very functional. Just like it can be useful for people who are using
overhead projectors to make their presentation, to turn off the projector
from time to time, to provide people with the opportunity to refocus, to
separate modes when modes need separation. But what about games? When is
it (if ever) useful to introduce games (a more severe kind of
silence/distraction?), and what games? And when can games contribute more
than silence? And how?!

Bernie DeKoven