Something I get asked a lot when it comes to our product is why we limit the number of questions asked in a Dynamic Brief to seven. A fair question since there is much more than seven things you need to know about somebody to create a better relationship and generate better results. So why do we limit the number of questions? And more importantly, how does this limit improve the quality of 1 on 1’s?
The primary reason is one of practicality. Most 1 on 1 meetings are 30 minutes split between the direct report, the manager, and the focus on the week ahead. Seven questions in a WideAngle leaves only 3-5 minutes to discuss each topic. If a question is worthy of an answer, it’s also worthy of a discussion and any less than 3 minutes is a disservice to the content.
Which leads to another point, filling out a Brief takes time and the most valuable information is what does not get said in a drive by water-cooler conversation. Going in depth takes time and having to go in depth on a dozen questions takes even more time. Even at WideAngle nobody’s primary job function is filling out a WideAngle Brief. We want our product to enhance productivity and not be a bottleneck. Ensuring that a manager cannot unintentionally place an undue burden on their direct reports helps with that.
Having too many topics in a Brief will result in uninitiated important conversations.
Finally, there’s the psychological finding that most most people can only keep 7 things in mind, give or take two. WideAngle customers do the in-person part of the 1 on 1 differently, with many having it completely offline. Having too many topics in a Brief will result in uninitiated important conversations.
Our data shows that our assumptions apply to most customers. We don’t currently limit the number of questions on Static WideAngle Briefs, yet the vast majority of Briefs have fewer than 7 questions. With Dynamic Briefs, fewer than 25% of include more than 5 questions. Along with the hard numbers, we have also assisted numerous customers that saw Brief engagement rise dramatically with a smaller number of questions presented more frequently.
Fewer than 25% of Dynamic WideAngle Briefs include more than 5 questions.
Of course, none of this changes the fact that managers need to know more than 7 things. One solution is more frequent Briefs. The vast majority of customers that request this feature have a longer cadence between briefs. Shorter but more frequent interaction will lead to better answers for all the open questions.
If that is not feasible, managers can always use Static WideAngle Briefs. If a manager is willing to invest the time in crafting every brief, that’s great and something that we encourage.
What’s most important to us is that both managers and direct reports have a great experience using the app. Walking the line between these two, often competing, needs can be difficult but it is also what makes our product the best best place to prepare for and document your 1 on 1 meetings.
1 on 1 Meetings are the best way to provide stronger communication, greater alignment, and deeper team engagement. WideAngle is 1 on 1 meeting software used by companies including General Electric, IBM, AT&T, Google, and many more to make sure One on Ones happen, are productive, and documented.