Gordon Mangione, 34, product-unit manager at Microsoft Exchange Group, where he leads the development team.
What's Your Problem?
"Daily meetings are a valuable tool for keeping projects on track. But as the number of participants grows — our team includes about 60 key managers — we face a dilemma: How do we ensure real-time interaction, keep everyone informed, and maintain cohesiveness — without tying up the whole team?"
Tell Me about It
"Our war-team meetings are critical. Teams come together, review daily builds, and identify any developments from the past 24 hours. We haven't found an 'enabling technology' that works better than face-to-face conversation. But when meetings turn into standing-room — only affairs, the disadvantages are overwhelming."
What's Your Solution?
"A hybrid meeting, part physical and part virtual. We still hold the daily meeting in our conference room, but now just 20 people sit in the room. The other 40 'attend' from their offices.
"Three technologies make these meetings work. Video cameras and microphones in our conference room and on everyone's PC allow 'virtual' and 'physical' participants to see and hear one another. A large-screen TV captures presentations, which we broadcast to the desktops. Every PC is connected via chat and instant-messaging technologies, so people can pass notes.
"We've also embraced the concept of selective attention. The virtual participants typically continue to work as they monitor the meeting in the background. That way, people can take notes or contribute at the most relevant moments."
Cathy Olofson (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a writer and editor based in Belmont, Massachusetts. Contact Gordon Mangione by email (email@example.com).
A version of this article appeared in the Jan/Feb 2000 issue of Fast Company magazine.