The visual telefacilitation project will investigate these premises:
Premise 0: Teleconferenced meetings will tend to be more "brainstormy" than normal meetings. Teleconferencing actually needs and should encourage participation from a larger percentage of the group's members, and thus the group communication structure will be many-to-many. This is a selection bias brought about partly by the media itself. Most times teleconferencing is not wasted on one-to-many style non-discussion meetings, where one person is simply dispensing her or his views to the group. Distribution of a memo is easier.
Premise 1: Visual Telefacilitation is cost-effective in increasing the effectiveness of teleconferencing. More complex many-to-many communication occurs more frequently in teleconferencing, and yet is less productive because of the lower bandwidth of teleconferenced communication compared with face-to-face meetings. The additional information on context and history provided by visual telefacilitation will give the telegroup a common frame of reference, and the increase in group productivity will be worth the increased cost.
Premise 2: Groups for the most part will not want to take their own minutes, nor would they be particularly good at it. Let the group discuss; have a specialist record.
Contingency Corollary: A short training course can be designed to teach visual telefacilitation. It would many times be handier if one of the group members could do VTF. "Meeting recording is like CPR
you just hope that someone in the room knows how to do it."
Premise 3: The "windows on a desktop" VTF system model is sufficient to describe visual telefacilitation at all social and equipment levels. The text-graphic record of the meeting is one or more pages, and the group uses this shared record as a common framework in focusing their discussion by referring to information on particular pages.
Premise 4: The visual telefacilitation method is equipment
independent. It will work with any text-graphic
Corollary: Visual facilitation will allow groups to use higher bandwidth systems more effectively; for instance, because the detailed meeting content is captured and communicated in the text-graphic record, a full duplex audio/video link can be freed up to support the crucial interpersonal dynamics of process.
Premise 5: Equipment independence is crucial to the wide-spread and effective use of VTF. Special purpose hardware and software systems should be used to increase the expressiveness of telefacilitation, but lack of such systems must not be allowed to stand in its way. Any distributed group with paper FAXes and phones can be visually telefacilitated; and then if more sophisticated equipment is available to all participants, fine, use it. Basically this is an "open system" approach to VTF. Utilization of the hierarchy table can assure the highest common denominator system, and also avoid blockages because of lack of expensive equipment.