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LessMeeting: Master the Dark Art of the Meeting

As any MBA student will tell you, Sun Tzu considered meetings as a necessary evil that must be avoided whenever possible.  He noted that “meetings are like fire; people who do not lay down their iPhones will die by their iPhones.”

Furthermore, the meeting should be conducted swiftly to avoid economic losses: “No long meeting ever profited any country: 100 meetings in 100 days is simply ridiculous.”

OK, ok, you got me.  Sun Tzu wasn’t talking about meetings.  He was talking about war.   But for anyone who played tic-tac-toe with themselves while their boss droned on, or complained to a colleague that they were “meeting’ed out” can attest that these necessary evils can be costly, counter-productive, and bad for morale.

And in these perilous economic times in which firms are looking to boost productivity any way possible, many are ignoring the ripe opportunity in front of them: meetings.

LessMeeting is an agile, user-friendly application that simplifies and streamlines the meeting process.  That means more time for employees to talk with customers and sell products, less time drawing cartoons on the back of a notebook.

LessMeeting takes an intelligent, strategic approach to the concept of meetings.  It views meetings like any other business process – a step-by-step progression of discrete events.  This goes a long way to remediate the major problem with poorly-run meetings: the lack of direction and focus.

The LessMeeting workflow consists of four steps: Plan, Meet, Act, and Adjust.  Each step is complemented by a set of useful tools to streamline the embedded sub-processes.  Let’s take the “Plan” step, for example.  LessMeeting provides a dashboard so users can get an overview of upcoming meetings and to-dos.  Better yet, this dashboard automatically syncs with the user’s Outlook or Google Apps accounts.

The “Meet” step, meanwhile, has mechanisms to keep your garrulous co-workers in place.  For example, as much as you want to hear about Bob in Accounting’s weekend in Reno, LessMeeting provide “Out of Time” Warnings and allows planners to capture time spent on each topic.

But perhaps the greatest challenge in the meeting lifecycle is ensuring that things actually get done.  You’d think people would, you know, act of their to-dos, but they don’t.  So LessMeeting helps speed that along by providing visible “To-Do Progress” via the dashboard.  In other words: “Name and Shame” – if a participant is unwilling or unable to complete their To-Dos in time, everyone’s gonna know.  There’s nothing fun about shame.  And there’s actually no excuse for it, as LessMeeting provides automated follow-ups to attendees, reducing the chances of remotely plausible excuses to 2.4%.

LessMeeting Example

Lastly, LessMeeting allows users to measure and calibrate performance.  No two meetings – and no two groups of participants – are the same.  Some meetings may be more successful with less participants; others with longer chunks of time for participants to speak.  LessMeeting lets you tweak the algorithm, as it were, to find that balance to drive optimal efficiency.

It’s this last piece that is LessMeeting’s greatest value-add, as it goes to the heart of what makes a meeting work: the idea that less can be more, that efficiency and precision should be the planner’s core guiding principles.  It’s an idea that’s at the heart of this fascinating Fast Company article illustrating how Steve Jobs ran meetings – a must-read if there ever was one – but it’s something that can only be executed without automated, structured direction from a tool like LessMeeting.

Humans are frail.  They’re needy.  They’re long-winded.  They’re weak.  LessMeeting‘s tools and functionality elegantly acknowledges and manages these weaknesses, and in turn, helps firms conduct efficient and effective meetings.

After all, to paraphrase Sun Tzu:

“So it is said that if you know your co-workers and know yourself, you can win a hundred meetings without a single loss.”

Startup

TeamLab: Starting the Green Hue Productivity Ooze

Everybody has their quirks. There are things they like that nobody else does. They may have a certain way of doing something, or a favorite food that nobody else seems to enjoy. I have a friend who compulsively checks that the gas is off. And there’s another friend who cleans the floor with queue tips. These make people unique and help you know who they are.

Today I’m going to reveal something quirky about me: I like business management software. Although each product offering is more mundane than the next there’s something about them that I find enjoyable. Perhaps it’s the hope that people will work together in unison and harmony. Maybe it’s that it helps people to be productive. Or they might be better able to provide customer service. I’m not exactly sure why I like it but to me the software that manages business processes is exciting. And so when a new offering comes on the scene I want to know about it.

TeamLab Home

TeamLab has made such an offering in the form of a multifunctional MUL-TI-DIMENTIONAL definitive bonanza of business software tools. Included are project management and business collaboration apps such as blogs, forums, wikis, and the ability for employees to share information. Then they provide online document management which can import docs from Google Docs (Drive?), Zoho, and similar. They have a trusty calendar which really should be lower down the list on their features page because they’re nothing new about a calendar. Except that each day is a new day so maybe if you look at it that way then the calendar is always new. Without even reading their documentation I’m going to hazard a guess that it entails events, milestones, and if we’re lucky, reminders and collaborative integration. Much more interesting than Calendars is their CRM app which manages all customer relations. And then finally they offer email management so you can send, receive, and organize your email through their interface. These come to us at a steep price of FREE for up to one GB of space. There are no restrictions based upon time, users, or number of projects. If that doesn’t get your attention I do not know what will.

Beyond the supple product offering, the next thing you’ll notice is that TeamLab decided to build an attractive interface. Please see the screen shot below if you can handle looking at such a masterpiece. If not then just take our word for it and strike the screen shot from the record. (Can you tell I had jury duty recently? It’s a fairly adequate way to lose a little faith in humanity.) After losing some faith in humanity, I mean, admiring their craftsmanship, you’ll begin to appreciate not only the slickness of style but the intuitive interface. It oozes productivity straight through the computer onto your desk. I personally don’t have any idea what productivity ooze actually looks like but I hear it comes in a greenish hue.

Tasks Oozing Their Way to Completion

But enough about me, hues, the ordering of features on the features page, and listening to people trying to get out of jury duty- let’s remember what brought us here in the first place. Business Management Software as graciously provided by our new friends at TeamLab. Given the crowded space they enter, they came to the party with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove. We’re giving them full marks for doing just that and look forward to hearing of the coming productivity explosion!