John Porcaro comments on the deadening effect of overpreparation. An otherwise engaging offsite goes off the boil:
One of the folks on our team came completely prepared with a three or four page document with an outline of challenges, strategies, tactics, and plans. She clearly had done her homework, prepared for the topic, and had done some great thinking.
So how did we react? By turning off our brains. I did it too. Most of the day, we brought up topics, used a flip chart, asked questions, and nearly everyone was involved. But it stopped cold when everyone’s attention turned to a formal presentation.
Spot on. It is so easy in organisations to squeeze out spontaneity in the name of order, and in so doing kill the whole point of having humans in a room instead of a rack of computers. In fact, I think this whole notion of controlled presentation is at the heart of much rotten marketing. The spirit of “death by powerpoint” is really behind most marketing, however charmingly contrived: an attempt to persuade an audience rather than engage them. As the RAF used to say of pilots who’d forgotten to let go of the little button you press to talk to air traffic control (you don’t hear back if you don’t let go of the button): stuck on transmit.