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Patents, Lawyers and Why Meetings Fail

Posted on by Brandon Klein


Lawyers, Doctors, Teachers - not much explanation needed for these professions that are well ingrained in our minds, terms most of us were brought up on as admirable roles, those to strive for. In selecting one of these professions it is understood that there is a clear path of education, required examinations, a well established matrix for how to collaborate and communicate with those around you needed to help you do your job, and of course a responsibility to the people you serve.  In order to keep these professionals honorable, there is well defined rigor around how to evaluate "a job well done".  That said, most of us end up in the vague abyss of the business world.  With a variety of different titles for a variety of different roles, explanation of who-does-what is almost always needed as you move from one department to the next.  Evaluative measures are constantly changing and with new roles invented and less clarity on who is needed to help get the job done, days and budgets are squandered on a job "not so well done."

Problem:

Effective collaboration, even though it consumes the majority of our working day is completely un-standardized, un-documented, un-accredited, and even un-Google'able. 

Let's look at an extreme example from another field. Corporations own the majority of patents in the world. Often times, the management and enforcement of these patents are the lifeblood of a company. There are lawyers and clerks and interns patrolling these incredibly valuable company assets. Lawyers are trained in Universities, and depending on the country have to pass a Bar exam to be qualified to work as a lawyer. Sometimes even specializing in Patent Law- all to protect how their employees inventions, ideas and future sources of revenue. However, every person in every company in the world spends considerably more time and more of their salary in collaborative situations with other people. There is no training for how to get more out of these sessions. There are the occasional 'collaborative software' or 'facilitators' or 'meeting rules' but they have no authority to speak of. Lawyers are listened to because often their responses have direct financial ramifications. What are the ramifications of 20 hours per week per employee in inefficient meetings or collaborative environments?

Solution:

- First, make it part of your strategy. Get senior leadership buy in the time and meetings and effective collaboration can truly improve your company and your bottom line.

- Second, you need to learn from the experts. At Collaboration King, we keep a list of collaborative experts. This is far from a Bar Exam to gain approval to make the list, but all of the small companies on our list have been vetted by at least 3 experts in the field of collaboration, most of them directly connected to Collaboration King.

- Follow some basic principles. Don't solve problems without the proper foundation. If you are trying to come up with an answer to develop a project plan or hire a new employee, or develop a new strategy... don't just do it. Spend 1/3 of the amount of time you think you should dedicate to the endeavor to exploration of possibilities. Use tools like Alltop.com to find the relevant articles about the topic you are trying to find a solution to (even if it is just to improve your existing meetings)

- Test scenarios. Spend another 1/3 of your time before you make the final decision testing out several possibilities. What if your income doubled, halved, the market crashed, your product was featured in Time Magazine etc. etc. How would you respond? How could you learn from this response to improve your decision?

- Hire a facilitator. We can't vouch for them, but more often than not, they are helpful. Leadership Strategies. Meeting Facilitators International.

- Check out how other industries talk to each other and search their databases. Sermo.com where doctors connect, to USPTO (Patent Search)

- Use statistics. There are statistics and visualizations of statistics on almost every imaginable topics, project or idea. Here is a fantastic TED presentation to show how statistics SHOULD influence your decisions:

- Enable virtual attendance. Collaboration doesn't have to be face to face. There are many tools to allow employees to work from home. One of the coolest new ones is HP Skyroom. Check out this article and screen shots about it.

- Finally, create a Patent System within your organization for meeting quality, time quality and better balance of resources.