I work in Humana's Innovation Center, and have been asked to be part of a cross functional team charged with setting the direction for the company's experiences with social media on an enterprise level. Its right up my alley so I'm pretty pumped about it. Our kick-off meeting occurred last Wednesday and we used Twitter and the hashtag #hcoc to live tweet the meeting minutes. You can read more about the experience in a post I wrote called: Meeting of the Minds or by reading what psfk wrote about it in their post, Twitter: Building a Bigger Boardroom, but I wanted to go over some of the lessons learned, from a project manager's perspective here:

Multiple record keepers - Multiple accounts of what went down in a meeting is really nice in my opinion. For one thing, if more than one person is taking similar notes, then the topics level of importance becomes very obvious when reading over the tweet stream after the meeting. For another, I may miss something if I'm facilitating and taking notes. Having other people pitch in drives engagement and acts as a fail safe measure to ensure important things get recorded.

Engaged notes - One of the limits of Twitter is that you can only post in 140 character chunks. I have talked to people who feel this makes it cumbersome for any type of real time updating. I look at it a different way and believe that it makes me actually listen to an entire thought before I start typing away on my iPhone. If I don't fully understand, I can clarify in the meeting itself and others' points of view can be jotted down as well (see above). In my mind, its extremely valuable to be able to turn a complex idea into a sentence that people can understand. Micro blogging meeting minutes reinforces that concept.

Side Conversations - In the meeting itself, I can Tweet something irrelevant to the topic on the table, ask a question, answer a question, or reference what other people are typing about without disrupting the meeting at large. This may seem like disengagement from the overall meeting but I would argue that it actually makes people more engaged. How often are meetings stalled to find an answer to a question? Now you can have answers at your fingertips in real time.

Outside Opinions - I think that this is huge for one reason: people don't have to be in the meeting to be in the meeting. Its the same concept that makes message boards so great. I can ask a question and now anyone can access it at any time. If I tell people the hashtag they can follow along in real-time at their desks and actually contribute to the meeting or they can check out what went down hours later and still contribute to the meeting. This can't be understated. Harnessing the ability for everyone to provide input is big. Think of the dumb requirements that make it into a project that you find out nobody wants after its too late. What if your functional users had the ability to say that a particular requirement is worthless and therefore not needed, before you build it? Yea... that could be a big deal. :)

Drawback - The main drawback to using Twitter is that the results are public. Anyone can use the #hcoc hashtag and spy on or grief our tweetstream. For this reason alone, I don't think that Twitter will be our final answer. That being said, there is Yammer as a private hosted solution and identi.ca for the Do It Yourselfers out there who want to micro blog during meetings.

In the meantime, try live tweeting a meeting of your own and find out what benefits your organization can reap from it. Then tell us about it here. :) You can also check this slideshow to help you visualize what I'm talking about:

Photo by: D'Arcy Norman

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Comment by Chris Hall on February 19, 2009 at 1:47pm
Totally agree, Greg. :)
Comment by Greg Matthews on February 19, 2009 at 9:42am
It's amazing how much etiquette it changing . . . when we attended the Social Media Jungle in Vegas last month, it was EXPECTED that most heads would be down, tweeting the proceedings. In fact, as a speaker I take my positive cues now based on how many heads are down vs. up . . . because it means that what I am saying is interesting enough to tweet.
That's probably not mainstream behavior yet, but it's coming . . .
Comment by Chris Hall on February 18, 2009 at 9:39pm
I know you probably thought that I was tooling around on my phone at the KIPMI luncheon, yesterday but then found out that I was documenting the event (with the wrong hashtag no less) :)

I think its definitely a different mentality. Facilitators will have to be ok with the appearance of neglect and disinterest.
Comment by Ed Hammerbeck on February 18, 2009 at 8:39am
One thing that would discourage me from tweeting during a meeting is that if my head was down, looking at my device, it would appear as though I was checking my email or playing a game rather than listening to the speaker. The speaker might get the impression that I had checked out, and my etiquette glands are too overdeveloped for that.

The techie part of me responds, what's the difference between engaging with a device and taking notes with pen and paper? I could just as easily be doodling or writing out my grocery list.

Then the well-mannered part of me says that it's a moot point because my cell phone is so old that all it has is a telegraph clicker thingy.

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