Back in 1990, Dr. Michael Hammer, the father of business process reengineering, wrote a seminal Harvard Business Review article titled “Reengineering Work: Don’t Automate, Obliterate.”
His idea was that you don’t want to automate existing processes, you want to rethink and reengineer them. Back then, companies would use software to automate bad processes, speeding up bad results.
Although this article is from thirty years ago, the concept is still relevant today, maybe even more so, during these challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, we are unable to conduct in-person, face-to-face meetings. As a result, there has been a knee-jerk reaction: Take what we did for in-person events and simply automate them. In other words, create a virtual version of the live meeting. This is the modern-day version of automating bad processes.
Doing this misses a huge opportunity for innovation. We don’t want to deliver online meetings or presentations the way we conduct them in-person. In fact, I would argue that many of our face-to-face meetings were poorly designed to begin with. So now is the time to rethink the way we collaborate. Innovate the experience rather than simply automate it.
Although this article focuses on conferences and conventions, the concepts can be adapted and applied to any kind of meeting. It is based on my real-world personal experience over the past decade.