The assumption that “business as usual” would occur after the pandemic has been upended. A “return to office” for many employees has resulted in too many meetings, too many priorities and too many projects. Newfound collaboration occuring in the hallways of an organization after a two-year hiatus is exciting, but also holds underlying repercussions many didn’t expect.
It’s a problem that Dr. Michael Arena, newly-appointed dean of Crowell School of Business, calls the “activity avalanche.” It’s a natural response to try to make up for three years of suboptimal productivity, including the loss of personal connections and the pausing of new initiatives. But overreacting by launching a manic burst of activity can instead actually hurt a company, Arena told Fortune magazine in an interview.
“The floodgates have been opening up and all those pent-up projects and activities are just spilling over,” said Arena. “Ad hoc meetings spawn new ideas, which creates three other meetings.”
In the article, Arena states one key way of preventing an activity avalanche is being intentional about what a meeting is for and whether it could be just an email instead. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but the best way to measure a successful meeting process is to measure the actual decisions that were made.
“The best leaders I’ve ever worked with assess their meetings more than anything else,” said Arena. “There’s this really tight sweet spot for collaboration, and I think this is the next frontline of the future of work.”
Arena comes to Biola from senior levels of executive leadership across several industries. He was Senior Vice President of Leadership Development at Bank of America, Chief Talent Officer for General Motors Corporation and Vice President of Talent and Development at Amazon Web Services (AWS). He has also been a visiting scientist with MIT’s Media Lab researching human networks and served as affiliate faculty at University of Pennsylvania.
Read the full Fortune magazine article, Is there such a thing as too much collaboration? The push to get workers back in the office could come with big risks.
Read Biola’s announcement, Biola University Appoints Former Amazon Vice President as Dean of Crowell School of Business.