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Team Results USA’s CEO John Kolm is an innovator of 21st century team productivity programs, a best-selling author, and a former intelligence officer. Originally from Australia, John formed Team Results in 1996 with retired business partner and decorated veteran Peter Ring as the end result of an experiment that began... Read more

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Or – Why Teleconferencing Will Never Be The Answer

06We hear a lot about teleconferencing, telepresence and telework.  And there’s nothing wrong with any of it.  I just hosted a webinar, I Skype with colleagues all over the world and my company could not survive without telework.  So I’m as connected as anyone.  But to those who claim tele-anything will take over the world, or who say that face-to-face meetings are a thing of the past, or who really believe that the latest technology automatically overturns 50,000 years of evolution, I say “whoa!”

Electronic hookups will NEVER take the place of face-to-face meetings.  And before you light the torches and sharpen the stakes, I also agree that electronic meetings are sometimes better (faster, cheaper and more inclusive) than face-to-face meetings.  So there.

Even in 500 years when we have colonized other planets and space travel is like catching the bus, we will still need face-to-face meetings.  We will also still have some things written on paper, some people will still own books, and lovers will still want a real wax candle burning on their real romantic dinner table where they can hold hands in a non-virtual way.

The lesson of history is that people over-react to new technologies, thinking they will replace everything, but that this is seldom the case.  More often, new technologies get integrated with pre-existing systems and they move forward together.  The new technologies that survive are actually the ones that integrate well, and the old ideas that die out are ones that were bad compromises even back in the day, like smelly and dangerous kerosene lamps.

I’m not a Star Trek fan, but they employ smart futurists as writers and it’s no accident that they still depict crucial face-to-face meetings and conferences even in the year 2300-whatever.  Humans are physiological creatures, not disembodied intellects, and as long as that’s true we will need the thousands of physical, chemical and emotional micro-cues that come with the warmth of a human touch.   And it’s equally true that often, all we need is a quick video call, voice call or email.

Balance in all things.

Nothing is new, Gen Y.  People communicated remotely in ancient Rome.  They could get a message from one side of the empire to the other in a day.

But they did a bit more than just that, didn’t they?

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John Kolm

About John Kolm

Team Results USA’s CEO John Kolm is an innovator of 21st century team productivity programs, a best-selling author, and a former intelligence officer.

Originally from Australia, John formed Team Results in 1996 with retired business partner and decorated veteran Peter Ring as the end result of an experiment that began in 1993. Driven by frustration with the team development options then available to business and government, and with encouragement from early clients, they applied their academic training and practical leadership experience to build the unique approach to team productivity improvement that eventually became Team Results. The company grew rapidly, expanded to a wholly US-owned branch in the United States in 2005, and now operates as a very successful business in both hemispheres.

In 2004 John and Peter wrote the global bestseller “Crocodile Charlie and the Holy Grail” (Penguin, available on Amazon.com), consolidating ten years of work with peak clients into a compelling story about team productivity, leadership in business and government, and happiness at work. The book has been re-published in seven languages and fourteen countries, and a sequel is in the works. John is also the author of numerous articles and papers on team dynamics in the modern workplace, some of which can be found in the News Room at www.teamresultsusa.com .

John is qualified in Psychology from the University of Melbourne, and in mathematics and statistics from the U.S. National Cryptologic School, where he also taught on the faculty. Email him at John.kolm@teamresultsusa.com .

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