Empty meeting roomEvery now & then an internal conversation happens in TomorrowToday that reflects some of the difficulty of moving away from the traditional business structure into a virtual & connection economy one. A recent conversation that did the rounds concerned whether we should have any more JIMY [Jedi Master Yoda – more on that in another post] meetings this year. JIMY is the closest thing we have to a management meeting in TMTD.biz, and to be totally honest I don’t know what was decided [hence the first line in the email below].
In most businesses today a ‘meeting culture’ prevails such that you can only get your real work done after hours, when everyone is at home [or at their desk too]. In TMTD.biz we have the opposite reality – we have very few meetings [and still happen to run a dynamic & fast growing business]. But, every now and then we need to have conversations around our meetings, and this is one of them.
The conversation started off as an honest question about whether the last two meetings of the year were necessary. It was an enquiry into whether we would be meeting for meeting’s sake. The conversation wound its way around the team and my response is below [you are essentially seeing this at the same time as they are]. In a nutshell my response is that sometimes we should meet for meeting’s sake because it gets us together for together’s sake.
So what do you think?
Hey Everyone
I’m not sure what was eventually decided

about the JIMY meetings for the rest of the year. At the moment the next one is scheduled for 3 Oct in Cape Town – is it on or not?
I want to raise a concern that I felt while reading the conversation as it did the rounds last week. We are the closest TMTD has to a management structure and we need to carry that role responsibly. In our structure we don’t have many opportunities to get together and collectively talk through the issues of the business that we all share. The one place that we have created for this is JIMY.
Our virtual structure means that face-to-face meeting opportunites are like gold. They facilitate connecting in a way that email and sms never can. We have some very relational animals in our team and we need to consciously create space for connection. JIMY has a secondary role in our structure as one of the places that we have created that regularly gets us together.
We have had JIMY meetings regularly through the year and they have been important in maintaining cohesion and keeping everyone on the same page. Thus far this year the JIMY meetings have been very agenda driven and haven’t had much space for conversation. Consequently the one criticism I have heard [and have levelled myself] is that JIMY has been all about the agenda. Don’t get me wrong, the agenda orientated meetings have been valuable and have set the tone for what will be a cornerstone of TMTD’s future success as an organisation – but that doesn’t mean we should scrap JIMY when we don’t have a minutely detailed agenda.
The Oct JIMY meeting definitely had some issues that needed to be discussed, but it was also going to create space for conversation precisely because the agenda is less dominating than it has needed to be in the earlier meetings.
I am concerned when I [and others] find out about the blogging conference through the e-zine rather than through discussion and internal communication. Earlier in the year we decided to can conferences because the costs and schlep of conferences outweighed the revenue they generate – the only conference that was going to be held was showcase, as a sales opportunity that we funded. Conceptually the blogging conference sounds good but more discussion should have taken place with the rest of us. It is now a fait accompli and discussion is a mute point other than to inform us about what is happening.
Similarly, when the discussion around LerumoCooper – TomorrowExperiences is shut down because the decision is already made, we have missed the boat in a BIG way. Jean has spent time building a robust business case for the rebranding. The case addresses the fact that the rebranding brings little value to the business in the area that seems most logical [BEE], but that the value actually lies elsewhere. In my discussions with Jean I haven’t been led to understand that the decision is a done deal, but rather that he is eager to discuss the relative value within the JIMY forum.
The two examples referred to above are precisely why we need to have JIMY meetings even when there doesn’t seem to be a pressing issue needing discussion. As a management structure we will be most effective when we proactively anticipate issues and are able to address them before they happen. If we only meet when there is something to discuss we will soon become predominantly reactive in our style – with the majority of decisions actually taken in the heat of the moment away from the forum in order to deal with a ‘fire’.
As we continue to grow JIMY will become an increasingly more important structure. With GC, KC & MM planning on spending more time outside of the country and with delivery consuming more of our creative resources JIMY will need to be relied on more. Let’s intentionally engage with each JIMY session regardless of the business context within which we find ourselves at that moment. This will mean making it priority time – implications of this are that nothing else should be booked that will take us away from JIMY, or cause anyone to leave it early [and everyone else has the right to rap us over the knuckles if / when we do].
At the moment I have taken the 3 Oct JIMY meeting out of my calendar and have changed the 5 Dec meeting to tentative. In my past experience this generally means the ‘death’ of the meeting – unless someone remembers it in the new year and tries to renew it as a priority. By this time however everyone involved knows that it is not actually a priority and they put it REALLY low on their list – as they wait for it to disappear again.
Cape Town is ready to host the next JIMY meeting – and we look forward to it. Please let me know if we should bother.
Now please re-read this and filter for my 8-ness. I haven’t wanted to be an arsehole in this but one or two bits may have slipped through 🙂
P.S. I have posted this email on the blog as an insight under Internal Conversations & Issues. Feel free to respond there if you would like to.

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