Not every working group needs to meet live. That’s because not every working group needs to function as a team. Many working groups can do fine working mostly independently, coordinating communication and learning as appropriate. By definition, teams are made up of individuals who must work interdependently to achieve a mutual objective. For them, consensus rules. And the best tool for building consensus is live, real time meetings.

The New Yorker’s Cal Newport asked Was e-mail a Mistake? He suggests it was not, given its value in asynchronous communication allowing receivers to read the senders’ messages whenever convenient for the receivers. At the same time, it is less effective for “The consensus problem” and other things requiring synchronized, real time communication. One of the examples he cites is tech companies’ “Scrums” – 15 minute daily stand-up meetings to collaboratively set up each day’s work.

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