"Resistance is futile" (the Borg)

Posted by David / on 01/12/2010 / 7 Comments

A recent Forbes study found that the vast majority of business executives prefer face-to-face meetings and conferences to virtual meetings (87%). The current economy has limited business travel: 58% said they were traveling for business less today than they were at the beginning of the recession in January 2008, and 34% said they were traveling much less frequently. [64]

[64] Business Meetings: The Case for Face-to-Face , Forbes Business Insights, 2009 http://www.forbes.com/forbesinsights/Business_Meetings_FaceToFace/index.html

What do you think?


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  • David says:

    This resistance to reducing the amount of face-to-face meetings could be simply resistance to new ways of working. But it could also be rooted in very real observations about human behavior. A senior consultant in a nationally recognized consulting firm reported that his company had banned virtually all travel except client-reimbursed travel during the current recession.[65] At first the consultants, used to weeks of travel every year, found the change refreshing as they had the opportunity to spend my time with family and have a more normal life. But the consultant also reported that after about a year “the cracks are beginning to show.” He observes that there are more inter-departments conflicts, there’s more protecting of individual or local turf and fiefdoms are on the rise. As he sees it, relationships are becoming strained without periodic face-to-face contact, and he believes the company will seen have to change their policy.

    January 12, 2010 at 5:14 PM | Permalink

  • David says:

    While this is only an anecdote, it may capture some real insights into human behavior. At present no one knows whether the need for face-to-face communication is simply a learned behavior that will be unlearned with practice. Or, is face-to-face communication somehow an inherent need in human interaction, particularly for building trust? Undoubtedly we’ll be finding out over the next few years. This is not a trivial issue: If face-to-face communication is somehow an essentially part of human interaction, there are limits on the extent to which technology can replace face-to-face communication, with important implications for how much travel is a minimum necessity for doing business.

    January 12, 2010 at 5:14 PM | Permalink

  • Alan says:

    Can we agree "having a personal experience" with another is by far the strongest -most human way of building a strong relationship? I'm posing the question as I see it - only so much can be experienced via phone and/or Internet interactions one-on-one - even in virtual worlds. Consider, when a business consultant fly's out to see a valued client - it's the small things which create a feeling of connection - like talking sports, family and trying a new Cabernet from a budding vineyard. Noticing together how the NY Strip Steak went perfect with the wine - come holiday time sending a bottle or case of that wine to the client will rekindle the experience and strengthen the relationship. Will there come a day when humans (businesspeople) have a meal together via video/virtual technology and will it really produce experiential connection in the same manner? Today from my limited perspective of whats to come - I'm not so sure advances in communication technology will ever replace breaking bread with another.

    January 13, 2010 at 7:54 AM | Permalink

  • Bonnie says:

    Alan and David, I'm a huge people-person. I'm amazed at how strong my connections are with some of the people closest to me in business and in life whom I've never met or haven't seen in a long time. And I agree... face-to-face time, breaking bread enriches in a way that nothing else can. Yet we can't stop connecting, communicating, co-creating and collaborating because we can't be face-to-face as often as we'd like. It's a delicate, dynamic balance we're looking for... I, for one, am grateful we can share thoughts and opinions, support and encourage each other any time, from any place. That's big in my world.

    January 14, 2010 at 5:28 PM | Permalink

  • Alan says:

    No doubt Bonnie - I'm in total agreement - personally my businesses have been virtual for 15 years whether by phone and/or Internet and has proven to be fun, profitable and expansive in terms of networking. I'd still love to share a drink in person with you and anyone I am building a relationship with - for now I raise my virtual pixelated glass to you and the group :-D

    January 15, 2010 at 8:12 AM | Permalink

  • Stewart says:

    I think we are neophytes in this new game and we will need some time and phd student studies to come up with conclusive data. I do know for sure we are energetic beings and feeling / seeing each other is an essential part of connection. The "Avatar" movie has something to say here. New protocols for managing virtually are arriving daily.

    January 18, 2010 at 4:27 PM | Permalink

  • Stewart says:

    What's also true is that humans are social creatures...we need the connections and it's why many folks go to work in the first place...

    January 25, 2010 at 1:07 PM | Permalink


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