BYOD = Bring Your Own Distraction


@fatal1ty omg im so bored i wish u wud shoot me irl

Last week, The Curmudgeon was drafting some guidance for organizing facilitated planning sessions, and the phrase "No Electronic Devices" was uttered (well, written).

The sessions in question would probably approach $10,000 just to put into place, and likely another $40,000 in the labour costs of senior staff.  $50,000 meetings.  If an organization is about to drop $50k on getting you to a meeting, can you be instructed to leave your iPhone at home?

Now, I grant you, senior staff are likely to be dealing with very serious matters on a day-to-day basis, and some of them might well be urgent.  So there's good reason to want to contact them.  It's fairly natural to expect such folk to be carrying smartphones, tablets or laptops.

But, I watch the behaviour of some staff with these devices, and it's is easy to see they commonly remove attention from where the person is physically located and into whatever has popped up on their screen.  We're spending $50k on having you in a room for a day - can I buy your total, undivided attention?

Fortunately, senior staff also generally have deputies.  After all, everyone gets sick / goes on vacation / gets on an airplane from time to time.  Compared to dealing with e.g. 4 weeks holiday a year, deputizing all your workload for a day should be easy.

Further, very senior staff should (to The Curmudgeon's mind) not be dealing with the urgent, with the operational.  They should be dealing with the strategic.  They should be focussing their attention on the horizon, and thinking about the next 5 years, not the next 5 minutes.  Good subordinates should not bring 'urgent' matters to the attention of senior staff - it's below their pay grade.

So, between deputization and strategic focus, The Curmudgeon doesn't think your electronic devices will be needed to keep your workplace going for a day.  Are you happy, now, that our $50,000 meeting can proceed without them?

Quite possibly, not.  Quite possibly, you'd be feeling uncomfortable, and imposed-upon with the proposition.  Having eliminated work from the equation, why is that?

Well, now you're out of touch with your personal affairs, too.  No calls, no texting, no email, no Facebook, no Twitter, no Pinterest.  And that, The Curmudgeon submits, is the deep-seated reason you wouldn't want to leave those devices behind.  You're generally holding a little (or sometimes big) thread back into your private life.

Bring Your Own Device?  Why would anyone volunteer to connect their work life into their private life?  Because what they're really volunteering to do is to connect their private life into their work life.  That, surely, detracts from how much work I will succeed in getting out of you.  It's Bring Your Own Distraction.

If I were The Dictator and not The Curmudgeon, I'd order your compliance - "No electronic devices!"  As it is, I'll just resign myself to getting some scattered, fractured remnant of your attention.  Another $50,000 badly spent.

~The Curmudgeon.