Photo: Jonas Jacobsson

Anyone who has ever led a zoom call knows the drain of presenting to people who haven’t turned on their cameras. Is it any different for half-filled venues wondering if people are going to return?

While it’s easy to assume the struggle is a new one post-pandemic, the reality is that organizations have been discussing declining engagement for years.

How do you create genuine connection with the people you most want to engage?

The perverse tailspin of a lack of engagement

Outside of the virtual world, attendance in all types of venues was dropping long before quarantine in 2020. …

If your organization gathers people together, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the word “hybrid” in reference to those events more than once.

Probably ad nauseum.

Over the course of the past year, most organizations have encountered the unique stress that comes with finding new ways to engage people. Trying new things — the only avenues that seem to be open to us — creates risk. It’s hard to create something for which there are no solid templates when the stakes are high.

It isn’t that we didn’t have digital engagement before the pandemic; we did — but it was…

What happens to events after over a year of being limited to digital connection? What happens to arts venues, classrooms, arenas, stadia, conventions, and plain old conference rooms as people come back?

Will it be the same?


We’ve all developed new muscle memory when it comes to connecting in groups.

Event planners, sports strategists, educational consultants, and theatre planners are talking about “hybrid events.” We all know the future will be a combination of in-person and digital presence.

But what does that mean? And more importantly, what will it look like?

What is a “hybrid” event?

Every event has two dynamics when it comes…

Photo of lightbulb by Johannes Plenio from Pexels
Photo of lightbulb by Johannes Plenio from Pexels

Who are you in your career? And — more importantly — where are you going?

Would it surprise you to learn that most career paths are fixed? And that, to create any sort of change, you might need to cultivate entirely different skillsets than the ones usually prescribed?

It doesn’t matter if you are a professor, architect, manager, nurse, engineer, marketer, or computer programmer: the path you were set on in school is linear. You go from apprentice to expert through an established timeline.

Becoming an expert at what you do is a very worthwhile goal. The bad news is…

What if complaining about Zoom fatigue is missing the point? What if there is a window of opportunity for creating engagement in Zoom meetings that is going to close if we don’t jump through it?

Here’s the scenario:

Our annual meeting switched from in-person to Zoom to accommodate the quarantine. The group included leaders from a variety of industries — people at the top of their fields with impressive accomplishments.

But I was in for a shock.

The ones I expected to lead — who normally have a commanding presence at the in-person meetings — failed to connect at all.

@Jeshoots via Unsplash

Remember that strategic plan you invested in? The one that was supposed to last you for 3 years?

Yeah, well that’s out the window now.

For professional service firms, recessions and global pandemics can kill your business. And you will need to move with incredible speed to change that.

As a leader you have to make decisions quickly, in an ecosystem that is continually changing. But how do you know what to choose? How do you make wise decisions?

(Because I’ve got to tell you going through a SWOT exercise feels pretty lame about now.)

You still need to plan…

In the midst of crisis management, our instinct is to control anything we can control.

I find myself majoring in the minor details. My strategic brain shifts to focus to what’s small and actionable.

I’m not the only one. I’ve spoken with a wide range of leaders this week. Their emotional response to the current crisis is all over the map — much more than they thought it would be. (Not that everyone reveals this outside of close relationships.)

It’s like we are all working through the stages of grief.

After all, the loss is real.

The market is down.

Photo by Bibi Pace on Unsplash

Do you feel the pressure of being a leader? Ever lose sleep?

Second-guess yourself?

Get a migraine?

Yeah, me too.

After all, a lot of people are depending on us to get this right. The decisions we make have a tangible impact on people’s lives — like how much they enjoy their careers, whether or not they have the resources to be successful, not to mention the salaries needed to support families.

When you lead a team, there’s a keen sense of responsibility that goes along with it.

Leading well matters.

Which is why we spend so much time seeking…

Want to improve your company culture? Why don’t you put in a basketball hoop?

Institute a no door policy.

Upgrade the snacks in the break room.

Close at noon on Friday.

Create a culture handbook.

Appoint a culture director.

Put your mission statement up in the lobby.

Fill a conference room with puppies.

What? That isn’t working?

The list of advice given to leaders to improve company culture ranges from platitudes to the inane.

And while we all want to lead organizations that have great culture, sometimes we inherit a negative one. …

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

My colleague Jeff and I had just shown the numbers to the group sitting in front of us. The graphs on the screen were undeniable.

If our client built what they were planning, they would suffer negative cash flow in year three that they could never recover from.

Our scenario mapping was straightforward and clearly presented.

Every way we parsed the data, the results were the same. And the message to the client was clear:

Build smaller? Your organization grows and thrives.

Build the big thing you are planning? …

Craig Janssen

I help leaders navigate engagement and technology shifts. I lead the team at Idibri. More at

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