January 20, 2015
Does it seem like your job is to go to meetings? Do you joke that you are paid by the meeting?
All those meetings that we attend need to be scheduled. And scheduling meetings get harder every year? Why? Our work is increasingly collaborative. We collaborate with people across organizations. Scheduling difficulty seems to follow some exponential rule, with challenges in finding a day / time that works for everyone growing at some nonlinear rate.
The solution to our scheduling conundrum for many of us is Doodle. That free web-based scheduling tool has become an essential link that keeps our organizations collaborating. How often do you fill out a Doodle poll to indicate your available slots? How often do you make Doodle polls to find a time when everyone can meet?
Doodle has become so essential that I wonder why none of the big calendar / e-mail players have bought the company. It is not hard to imagine Doodle being fully baked into Outlook or Gmail. I’m not talking integration options that Doodle already offers. The integration may be great, but how many people take the time to make it all work? And even the best integration is sub-optimal if everyone we might want to have a meeting with has not connected the tools.
What would Outlook or Gmail look like if Doodle was fully baked into the platform? Some wishes:
Wish #1 - Auto Poll Creation: What I’d like is to be able to enter some parameters, and then the polling platform would automatically create the poll. This optional times would be based on the availability of everyone that the system can see, past history of when meetings are booked, and predictions of when everyone is most likely able to attend. The system should learn the names of people that we normally meet with, and be able to create the poll and add the attendees based on the meeting name.
Wish #2 - Auto Poll Completion: The system should be able to fill in the poll based on availability and past choices. We should be given the chance to quickly review and approve the choices that the software makes, but this should be fast.
Wish #3 - No Need to Leave the Calendar Program: The smart polling tools should be integrated into the e-mail / calendar system to the extent that the actions feel fluid and integrated with normal calendaring tasks. Polling should work seamlessly for those that use the same e-mail as whatever Doodle gets baked into, but the process should be simple and straightforward for meeting invitees working on different platforms.
What would be the dangers if Google or Microsoft bought Doodle? They could screw up the program, making it crufty with extra features that nobody wants or needs. They could make Doodle work well with their own calendar system, but terribly for everyone else. They might fail to redesign the basic calendar program from the ground up to include Doodle as a feature, making the product feel tacked on.
These dangers are real, but whoever buys Doodle has the opportunity to differentiate their calendaring platforms. There seems to be some innovation in e-mail (see Google InBox or the SaneBox application that my brother uses). What has been the last innovation in calendaring? The task that we spend so much of our time trying to do, plan meetings, seems stuck somewhere in the early 2000’s.
Are you a Doodle poll user?
How would you like to see your calendaring system improved?
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