Most dispersed groups meet 2 or 3 or 4 times a year for face-to-face meetings. These meetings then become critical forums for the group to make decisions together and form relationships that will tide them over until the next face-to-face meeting. This often leads to crammed agendas and rushed decisions. By taking a blended approach to these meetings, the face-to-face time can be far more effective. By ‘blended’ we mean the effective use of virtual meetings either side of the face-to-face meeting.For example, this week we facilitated a two-day meeting for a global group who needed to redefine their vision and strategy. The work in the face-to-face meeting needed to enable robust decisions that would stand the test of time. We ran two virtual meetings in the two weeks leading into the face-to-face meeting. These virtual meetings allowed preparatory information to be shared, and external people to input into the thinking. There was a benefit of soak-time for people to reflect, digest and make meaning of the information. In addition, these virtual meetings were audibly recorded so people who could not make the meeting in person were able to catch up.
The benefit of this approach was the quality of conversation the group could dive into when they met face-to-face and the rigour of the decision making that ensued. Face-to-face meetings are a huge investment for global groups, in time and money. A blended approach leverages a much better return on that investment.