• Hermen Lutje Berenbroek

The Smartest Person in the Room


How can we truly collaborate, learn from each other, and get aligned in a meeting? The key is involvement.

Most meetings are full of blah, blah, blah; they’re speech-heavy and one-directional. We use agendas to give meetings structure. Within this structure we all have our own agendas. We want to convey our personal beliefs and judgements about the best route towards a common direction. We count on our words and our PowerPoint presentations to move our agendas forward. We assume that they are enough to create shared understanding. But are they really?


Some research shows that the average attention span in a meeting is 52 minutes. According to Wisembly, four out of five managers check phones and send emails during meetings. On top of this, people tend to discuss information that everyone is already familiar with and spend less time and energy discussing information that only some are aware of. This results in decisions based on incomplete information. How can we truly collaborate, learn from each other, and get aligned?


The key is involvement. At XPLANE we carefully craft structures and experiences to involve people in exploring and sharing complex information. It starts with creating a shared goal and an agreed path towards this goal. We then use visual thinkingand Gamestorming practices to get ideas and information out of the slide decks and minds of your people, and into the room in the form of drawings and sticky notes, connected and linked on the walls. It’s a shared visual language that everyone can understand. The results are much greater than any individual could contribute. This clarity and alignment leads to well-informed decisions and faster, better results.


This is why, as David Weinberger said, the smartest person in the room is the room.


Originally published at xblog.xplane.com.

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Hermen Lutje Berenbroek

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