Turning Meetings Upside Down

May 1, 2007 12:00 PM

By Bob Andelman

If Elliott Masie were king of the forest, the woods would be blanketed with Wi-Fi, every encounter between predator and prey would be televised, and the results of every campfire chat would be shared instantly via blog or IM.

And a caffeinated beverage would accompany every meal. (He didn’t say that, but he does come across like a revved-up guy who thrives on Starbucks and Diet Coke. If his energy could be tapped, it would probably light up a small New England town for a week.)

An internationally recognized futurist, analyst, and researcher on learning, technology, business, and workplace productivity, Masie runs The Masie Center, a Saratoga Springs, N.Y., think tank focused on how organizations can support learning and knowledge within the workforce. He also leads the Learning Consortium, a coalition of more than 200 Fortune 500 companies including Target, American Express, The Home Depot, and Wal-Mart.

From the moment you meet him you know that Masie is an idea guy — an agent provocateur with sometimes controversial approaches to a variety of topics, from training to meetings and more. When he spoke at Meeting Professionals International’s January conference in New Orleans, he electrified the room with his out-of-the-box ideas and impassioned opposition to the industry’s status quo.

We tried to contain Masie — a moving target if there ever was one — long enough to extract his ideas on what has gone wrong with corporate meetings and how they can be revived. The good news: There is hope for the future. The bad news: We won’t move forward without radical re-thinking. That forest he lives in is full of innovative technologies hiding in the bushes, just waiting to overtake one-way seminars, roundtables, and other traditional meeting formats.

It’s an eat-or-be-eaten world out there, and Elliott Masie hopes that you’re hungry.

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