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Individual vs Collective Impact

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At a meeting with one of my regular clients, I was reminded of an important tension and interesting phenomenon in organisational dynamics, and it is blogged about ad infinitum.

The tension is the value of meetings over that of individual productivity, and the phenomenon is the power of “collective influence” (Alex Smith).

meetingMeetings get a bad rap these days. Particularly online businesses favour virtual teams, online collaboration, etc. Alex reckoned 90% of meeting content is irrelevant, people are busy, and time is precious.

On one hand, I agree that meetings can be wasteful. Personally, I avoid them if I can. But, what can we learn when we look deeper at individual impact versus collective impact?

There is a difference between a meeting and an intentional gathering or conversation. As I said at the meeting today, I have been in several of the latter with another regular client. Everyone is pressed for time, the gathering is delayed…

However, every time when we finally meet either during or afterwards, something magical happens. An opportunity, a breakthrough, and/or a request for what we offer.

I describe this as a dynamic or energetic outcome, and I’m waiting for what will emerge from this week’s meeting.

If you’re arguing about whether individual productivity or meetings are more important, please stop. It’s a useless conversation.

The conversation should be about how to harness the benefit of both individual and collective impact. The questions are, what is a good balance, how are they organised, and what are the intentions?

The answers? Well, you tell me.

Cover Photo Courtesy of Collaboration for Impact

Philip Patston began his career 25 years ago as a counsellor and social worker, and he is the founder of  DiversityNZ. Philip lives in New Zealand and is recognised locally and overseas as a social and creative entrepreneur with fifteen years’ experience as a professional, award-winning comedian. His passion is working with people when they want to explore and extend how they think about leadership, diversity, complexity and change.

          
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