Respecting their time

When we go around the room and have each person introduce themselves, we’re burning time, attention and trust. 40 people: 45 minutes, gone. Worse—the person who goes first spends 43 minutes daydreaming, and the person who goes last spends 44 minutes worrying about what to say.

When we read our powerpoint slides to the audience, we’re sabotaging our message and wasting the attention that we’ve been granted.

When a school fritters away live classroom time requiring lectures instead of answering questions, they’re squandering precious real-time engagement. It’s far more productive to assign the lecture on video to be done at the student’s own pace.

When a conference organizer (remember conferences?) has people wait in a long line to check in instead of using a web-driven smartphone system, they’ve burned a million dollars in time and travel expenses.

One of the little-seen benefits of a networked world is that we’ve re-configured what needs to be done in a queue and what can be done in parallel.

The simple rule is: If this can be done on multiple tracks, at our own pace, it should be. If it creates a benefit when we all do it together, then let’s.

People have already decided that they’d rather watch a movie at home. But people who love the theater can’t wait to get back to it. That’s because only one of them is better together, in real time.

It’s much easier to demonstrate power (and to get a quick result) if we simply demand that people do it when we say. But the effort in creating a platform for interaction, attention and growth pays off.

We’re not just respecting people’s time. We’re respecting their voice and their passion.

Synchronized, real-time interaction is precious. It creates magic. We shouldn’t waste it on bureaucracy or displays of false control–it’s better saved for moments of connection and possibility.