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How People Analytics Can Kill Pointless Meetings
Companies are investing in data-driven solutions that can shine a light on which business practices aren't working while offering solutions for improvement.
Ryan Fuller is CEO and co-founder of VoloMetrix, a company that defines itself as "a people analytics technology company that provides actionable insights to improve organizational responsiveness and drive productivity." That's a fancy way of saying Fuller's company analyzes the ways other companies run and determines what works and what doesn't. It's basically an HR juggernaut able to quantify things like employee satisfaction, efficiency, and overall time value. The entire people analytics movement, as explained in this piece by Forbes contributor Josh Bersin, represents a major shift toward companies finally investing in data-driven solutions to age-old problems related to efficiency.
Enter Ryan Fuller. The VoloMetrix CEO is author of an interesting post published today at Harvard Business Review all about one of the main things people identify with "age-old problems related to efficiency": the soul-sucking vacuum of the useless recurring meeting. Based on information and experience through VoloMetrix, Fuller claims to have a solution for doing away with the sorts of meetings that everyone attends out of habit yet from which nobody seems to benefit. It's not as simple as just abruptly ceasing to meet or, in the case of one of my prior employers, relaunching the useless recurring meeting as a more-useless recurring meeting that only recurs slightly less often. Instead, Fuller says you need a strategy:
"The key is to engage all employees in a new way of thinking about time management and to encourage them to hold themselves and their colleagues accountable. To liberate victims from this seemingly inescapable vicious cycle, it’s necessary to kick-start a virtuous cycle in which everyone is empowered to say no, ask why, and identify strategies to allow everyone in an organization to be more effective on a day-to-day basis."
Fuller offers a basic framework for doing away with unproductive meetings. It begins with transparency -- bosses need to let their workers in on the inner machinations that are going to alter their routines. A universal awareness allows for the understanding of gradual targets and eases the process by which benchmarks are met.
If you want to learn more about Fuller's precise recommendations, I recommend checking out his post (I've linked it again below). What's perhaps more fascinating here is the process through which VoloMetrix arrives at its solutions. Fuller explains:
"At VoloMetrix, we help companies quantify how much time goes into meetings and what effects they have on people. In the process, we have analyzed over 1 billion meetings across dozens of large businesses, so we have a rather unique perspective on both how widespread the problem is as well as how elusive the solutions are."
Initially I thought the billion was a typo but VoloMetrix apparently does have that much data under the hood. Just to illustrate how impressive that is: There are about 9.5 million businesses in the United States that claim revenues over $50,000. If you assume that each of those businesses (not necessarily companies, mind you) holds some sort of recurring meeting once a week, it would take over two years for the cumulative number of meetings to reach 1 billion. Safe to say that's a large enough sample size to glean some major insight. With that information stored in their vault, VoloMetrix performs diagnostics on client companies by first collecting relevant data and then analyzing it to determine places for improvement. This is how people analytics works. As it's put on the VoloMetrix site: "People analytics data provides a holistic map of your company's communication and collaboration behavior."
By collecting time management data from employees, companies that utilize people analytics can improve productivity without sacrificing employee engagement or morale. In fact, since this is basically big data doing the kind of work most people wish HR would do, most companies would be able to save time and money while simultaneously boosting employee satisfaction, especially if the agreed-upon solution includes the killing-off of unnecessary meetings. Fuller says VoloMetrix allowed one Fortune 500 company to gain back 5 hours per week per employee through its meeting-killing initiative. How much time could this sort of data save your business?
Read more at Harvard Business Review
Photo credit: g-stockstudio / Shutterstock
The idea of 'absolute time' is an illusion. Physics and subjective experience reveal why.
- Since Einstein posited his theory of general relativity, we've understood that gravity has the power to warp space and time.
- This "time dilation" effect occurs even at small levels.
- Outside of physics, we experience distortions in how we perceive time — sometimes to a startling extent.
Physics without time<p>In his book "The Order of Time," Italian theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli suggests that our perception of time — our sense that time is forever flowing forward — could be a highly subjective projection. After all, when you look at reality on the smallest scale (using equations of quantum gravity, at least), time vanishes.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"If I observe the microscopic state of things," writes Rovelli, "then the difference between past and future vanishes … in the elementary grammar of things, there is no distinction between 'cause' and 'effect.'"</p><p>So, why do we perceive time as flowing <em>forward</em>? Rovelli notes that, although time disappears on extremely small scales, we still obviously perceive events occur sequentially in reality. In other words, we observe entropy: Order changing into disorder; an egg cracking and getting scrambled.</p><p>Rovelli says key aspects of time are described by the second law of thermodynamics, which states that heat always passes from hot to cold. This is a one-way street. For example, an ice cube melts into a hot cup of tea, never the reverse. Rovelli suggests a similar phenomenon might explain why we're only able to perceive the past and not the future.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Any time the future is definitely distinguishable from the past, there is something like heat involved," Rovelli wrote for the <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/ce6ef7b8-429a-11e8-93cf-67ac3a6482fd" target="_blank"><em>Financial Times</em></a>. "Thermodynamics traces the direction of time to something called the 'low entropy of the past', a still mysterious phenomenon on which discussions rage."</p>
The strange subjectivity of time<p>Time moves differently atop a mountain than it does on a beach. But you don't need to travel any distance at all to experience strange distortions in your perception of time. In moments of life-or-death fear, for example, your brain would release large amounts of adrenaline, which would speed up your internal clock, causing you to perceive the outside world as moving slowly.<br></p><p>Another common distortion occurs when we focus our attention in particular ways.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"If you're thinking about how time is <em>currently</em> passing by, the biggest factor influencing your time perception is attention," Aaron Sackett, associate professor of marketing at the University of St. Thomas, told <em><a href="https://gizmodo.com/why-does-time-slow-down-and-speed-up-1840133782" target="_blank">Gizmodo</a></em>.<em> "</em>The more attention you give to the passage of time, the slower it tends to go. As you become distracted from time's passing—perhaps by something interesting happening nearby, or a good daydreaming session—you're more likely to lose track of time, giving you the feeling that it's slipping by more quickly than before. "Time flies when you're having fun," they say, but really, it's more like "time flies when you're thinking about other things." That's why time will also often fly by when you're definitely <em>not</em> having fun—like when you're having a heated argument or are terrified about an upcoming presentation."</p><p>One of the most mysterious ways people experience time-perception distortions is through psychedelic drugs. In an interview with <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/apr/14/carlo-rovelli-exploding-commonsense-notions-order-of-time-interview" target="_blank"><em>The Guardian</em></a>, Rovelli described a time he experimented with LSD.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"It was an extraordinarily strong experience that touched me also intellectually," he said. "Among the strange phenomena was the sense of time stopping. Things were happening in my mind but the clock was not going ahead; the flow of time was not passing any more. It was a total subversion of the structure of reality."<br></p><p>It seems few scientists or philosophers believe time is completely an illusion.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"What we call <em>time</em> is a rich, stratified concept; it has many layers," Rovelli told <em><a href="https://physicstoday.scitation.org/do/10.1063/PT.6.4.20190219a/full/" target="_blank">Physics Today</a>.</em> "Some of time's layers apply only at limited scales within limited domains. This does not make them illusions."</p>What <em>is</em> an illusion is the idea that time flows at an absolute rate. The river of time might be flowing forever forward, but it moves at different speeds, between people, and even within your own mind.
The world's 10 most affected countries are spending up to 59% of their GDP on the effects of violence.
- Conflict and violence cost the world more than $14 trillion a year.
- That's the equivalent of $5 a day for every person on the planet.
- Research shows that peace brings prosperity, lower inflation and more jobs.
- Just a 2% reduction in conflict would free up as much money as the global aid budget.
- Report urges governments to improve peacefulness, especially amid COVID-19.
The lush biodiversity of South America's rainforests is rooted in one of the most cataclysmic events that ever struck Earth.
- One especially mysterious thing about the asteroid impact, which killed the dinosaurs, is how it transformed Earth's tropical rainforests.
- A recent study analyzed ancient fossils collected in modern-day Colombia to determine how tropical rainforests changed after the bolide impact.
- The results highlight how nature is able to recover from cataclysmic events, though it may take millions of years.