"We're Allergic to Meetings" — How New England Tech Brings Out Great Ideas from Smart People

• Written by MJ Kaplan

MJ from Loomio caught up with DJ Johnson, professor of game development at the New England Institute of Technology, about how they're bringing out the best in their faculty through more online collaboration, and fewer meetings.

The New England Institute of Technology (NEIT) is a career university in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. This 75 year-old school is adding to its $250 million dollar campus expansion, creating its first residential dorm for 400 students and expanding its technology programs.

We have a lot of smart people. In their brains and experience, there's a lot of great knowledge. Unfortunately, that doesn't always get exercised well around a conference room table in an hour long meeting.

Amidst dynamic growth, faulty and staff must work fast and furiously to get work done. That’s why faculty member DJ Johnson decided to test out Loomio.

He launched three groups at NEIT – a Faculty Development Committee, a group that works on software engineering outcomes and a third group to establish career goals for video game designers.

I love tools, I’m a geek, so I tried out Loomio. Great eye-opening experience and solved a lot of problems.

DJ and his colleagues like Loomio because they feel that a lot of smart people aren’t able to exercise their knowledge well in meetings, which he says many of his colleagues are “allergic” to, and he personally gets itchy at. Around a conference table, he holds his tongue, waiting for a turn to speak.

Meetings and email are a nightmare, agrees Assistant Provost Tom Thibodeau. He was part of a Loomio group with a deadline at the end of a term, when faculty and staff are in a race to get closure. That made Thibodeau a Loomio fan.

A lot of people participated very deeply. The person having the biggest trouble with the outcomes was right there. We got to a resolution point. It was a great success.


Loomio breaks issues into parts, and allows everyone to have a say, according to DJ. If you’re an extrovert or introvert, if you’re bold or meek, divergent or convergent thinker, you still have a chance to be part of the conversation. It creates equality for problem solving that just doesn’t happen in conference rooms.

A lot of times it's the person that speaks the fastest and the loudest that can get their point across and win the day. That isn't always the best idea. We'll end up going back over things because they weren't resolved to everyone's satisfaction. Loomio helps us all get there in an efficient way.

In a fast-paced environment like NEIT, putting discussions and decisions in writing saves time. Decisions have been crafted and signed off by discerning eyes, which saves on the editorial process.

Of course, not everyone is familiar with this type of discourse. You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable when colleagues have a different point of view. But if you stay focused on the mission and trust your team, you gain confidence and momentum.

Loomio leads to decisions that people feel better about. Everyone seems to be on board now.

Want great collaboration with fewer meetings? Try Loomio!

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