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When is Team Collaboration Too Much? How to Avoid Wasted Time

I read a very cool article from Inc Magazine about how overcommunication can waste time and productivity This idea runs counter to the the conventional wisdom from "collaborative" businesses, especially start ups and tech businesses.

From my experience at AOL, I was scheduled on so many calls where everyone wanted each person to feel involved and part of the process that work didn't get done. it felt like elementary school when people were busy web surfing, IMing, checking their stocks etc. You could tell when people unmuted and felt lost when they were asked a question. Finally I told my boss that I REFUSED to participate in this silliness that was meant to make the lower level people feel important.

This was a summary of our conversation:

MF: "You bought my company to grow AOL's business, right?

AOL Boss: "Yes, you guys are key to our success in the growing games and entertainment ad market."

MF: "Great. I am very committed to deliver maximum value to the company and it's hard for me to any productive work when I'm on calls about a host of topics not relevant to us growing our business"

AOL Boss: "OK, what do you suggest?"

MF: "I will be on our weekly report call and the call with your boss. If ever you need me, just ping me on AIM (AOLs instant messenger that the whole company was always on) and I'll hop on the call. Does that sound like a good solution?

AOL Boss: "Yes, sounds good?"

Bottom line, I was able to focus on building our business that was important for GameDaily's position in AOL and our legacy.

Cross-functional or Dysfunctional? On every project, one person should be in charge of the flow of communication. You want the decision-making process to look like Figure A — not Figure B.

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