December 24, 2012, 7:58 AM — One product class you'll see in the consumer space a lot next year is the portable all-in-one device. Sony has one available today, while Dell quietly launched one at Dell World earlier this month and Asustek Computer previewed a few at Computex earlier this year.
While these products clearly focus on the consumer market and digital board games, the fact is that we in the business world often conduct strategy sessions while sitting around a table, and no PC technology has embraced that concept like the portable all-in-one could. The old Surface Table that Microsoft used to sell comes closest to that collaborative ideal. The TV show Hawaii Five-0 uses a table for collaboration in exactly this way, though everyone could have just saved a lot of trouble by using the Microsoft Surface Table instead.
Given that most collaboration technologies suck at enhancing collaboration, it would be fascinating if a technology designed for a completely different purpose did a better job.
Sitting Around the Table
To foster collaboration King Arthur created the round table so no one person, not even the King, was superior position to anyone else. Hundreds of years later, we seem to be unable to recreate this simple concept.
Today's presentation tools put the presenter in front of the group, standing in a clearly superior position to the audience. Either only a few folks are brave enough to ask questions, validating the speakers' informal or formal relative power and authority, or the questions do their best to belittle the subject or the speaker and challenge that authority. Next time you're in a meeting, there's one person presenting and he or she is seen as a peer, you'll likely see this behavior.
This is likely one of the primary reasons, though far from the only one, we tend to have lots of meetings where nothing really gets done-the events focus on either affirming situational power (and leader of the pack mentality) or showcasing that it doesn't exist.