There are conferences rooms, and there are six comfortable faux-leather lounge chairs in the coffee shop at Borders book store on Mill Avenue. We meet there often to plan projects, or just brainstorm on an upcoming event. Sometimes it’s a visitor, sometimes it’s with a media person. My two highly creative designers seem to thrive in un-meetings –the agenda or core idea staring at us on the back of a napkin.
If you’re in marketing, PR or strat planning, you know there is value in structured meetings and white boards, but too often the format substitutes for the outcome.
Un-meetings, on the other hand, are less intimidating. People check their ‘strategic’ meeting vocabulary at the door and yammer on like real people –like customers. Maybe it’s the coffee shop atmosphere that reminds us that we are customers first and worker-bees second. In coffee shops you hear words like “I swear I got goosebumps when I read that report.” In a conference room, with a supervisor staring down at you, that same thought would go like “I tend to agree on the substance of his argument…” or some nonsense like that.
So here are the five reasons why un-meetings in public places work:
- They permit attendees to let their personality, their biases and their passions show through
- They let people interact with each other in a non-threatening way
- They force people to think like customers –being surrounded by them
- They seldom run over the time limit –folks feel they have to get back to “work”
- No need for Outlook meeting requests