Perhaps, like us, you’ve been seeing articles about a highly disruptive innovation that’s celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this year. The ATM is widely considered to be the beginning of the 24/7 service culture that transformed banking and business practices.
This helped usher in the digital age that has transformed world culture, including how we make decisions about all kinds of matters beyond banking.
Today, the collective comfort with machine-human transactions has spilled over to create the increasingly transactional nature of much human-human communication enabled by email, text messaging, Twitter, Slack messaging, and more.
Although digital interaction is often perfect for straightforward information or quick transactions, it’s not the best choice for making decisions that have a strong impact.
While we all know this, the convenience of digital interaction makes it all too easy to inadvertently get caught up in a transactional approach to strategic interactions. Here’s how it can happen, and what to do about it…
Suppose you were part of a series of group texts about a decision that seemed straightforward. Different people are unexpectedly responding at different times with new information. Now, someone responds “I didn’t say that.”
Depending upon your point of view, you might easily come up with four different interpretations to this simple sentence and respond in a way that launches more back and forth, confusion, and conflict.
This is more than hypothetical — each of us has seen this dynamic in action. So, what’s the answer?
When the stakes are high, it can actually be faster and more effective to have a real-time interactive conversation.
Sometimes it’s easy to see when meetings are essential for making a critical decision. However, sometimes, it’s not so easy to make that call. The key is knowing when to switch from digital interaction to real-time conversation.
Here’s a rule of thumb we’ve developed over the years: when a string of texts, Slack messages or emails runs past 3 back-and-forth exchanges, it’s time to put away the devices and talk.
Whether it’s actually face-to-face, over the phone, or through video conference, a real-time conversation is far better at building stronger decisions − and the commitment that’s needed to see them through.