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May 23, 2017

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Jannice Moore

ABC – Are you a Micro-Zombie?

Does your board have a habit of being alone together?  I’ve witnessed too many board meetings where board members’ smart phones are always close at hand.  They may be blatantly obvious, they may be on vibrate, they may be surreptitiously checked under the table, or board members may even answer phone calls in the middle of a meeting.  Is that you?   Or  . . . is that your board?

Based on a review of hundreds of research studies, Theo Compernolle, author of Brain Chains, describes the dangers of ABC (Always Being Connected)   He notes that when people in meetings stay connected with their devices, they are “faking” being present.  In actuality, as far as the meeting is concerned, they become zombies for a few seconds.  They may be convinced that they didn’t miss a beat of the current conversation.  However, they typically demonstrate they did by asking questions that have already been asked, giving answers already given, or missing important parts, which may not become evident until the next meeting.

Usually, they are convinced they are the exception to the rule that multi-tasking is a myth – our reflecting brains can rapidly switch between tasks but cannot do two things requiring cognitive attention at the same time.  Hyper-connected board members and executives are more likely to have a “grasshopper view” than a “helicopter view.”   Always being connected puts the brain in a here-and-now reflex mode, rather than the reflective mode needed to make wise governance decisions.  Disengagement from the immediate is important for the level of decision-making needed by boards.

Think about your board’s code of conduct in relation to “Always Being Connected” at board meetings.  Take preventive action to avoid board meetings becoming a gathering of micro-zombies.

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