This tweet from friend of the ‘Lab Michael Krigsman triggered my inner economist.
Even though I’m essentially a geek, I studied economics in college and have always been fascinated by supply, demand, utility and especially modeling that stuff with a nice tidy graph. Needless to say, I’m a big fan of Chris Anderson and his Long Tail work because it models a market driven by technology.
Michael’s tweet reminded me of the Long Tail applied to meetings. The Long Tail addresses scarcity. Before technologies like conference calling bridges, VoIP, and online conferences, meetings were constrained by the physical scarcity of conference rooms and offices. The assumption here is that due to physical scarcity, only the most important (think blockbuster) meetings were held.
Technology has again removed the scarcity constraint and allowed “consumers” access to the Long Tail of meetings. So now, meetings of all levels of importance (blockbusters, indies, B-movies, classics, etc.) can be held. The question is whether the demand follows a Pareto distribution, which would make it truly a Long Tail market.
Is there really demand for meetings? Let’s consider utility instead, which fits nicely. I have high utility for a relatively small number of meetings. In other words, think about how many meetings you really look forward to or want to attend. It follows that I have a rather low utility for a large number of meetings. Think about how many meetings you dread or you’re essentially ambivalent about attending.
I think that follows the power law distribution. The horizontal axis measures the number of meetings, and the vertical axis measures utility.
One key component of the Long Tail model is that it allows consumers access to more content that was previously unavailable due to scarcity. This is a good thing for the consumer. When applied to meetings, however, I think the conclusion is that maybe it has become too easy to hold a meeting.
That is all. Yes, this was just a very eggbertian way to complain that there are too many meetings. If you made it this far, thanks.