[Design] Negotiation and Scheduling
mimi at osafoundation.org
Mon Dec 5 15:23:27 PST 2005
What are some "new world" approaches to Scheduling in Chandler that
take free-busy and invitations out of their traditionally corporate
environments and turn them into features customized for calendar
usage by individuals and small groups?
FRAMING THE ISSUE
It's tempting to imagine a world where we could schedule things
without the need for any human interaction (ie. emails flying back
"Ideal scenario:" I want to schedule a meeting. I know right from the
start who needs to come to that meeting. I have access to everyone's
free-busy info and it is clean and accurate. The client software
automatically picks the next available time-slot, I click Send and it
drops auto-magically onto everyone else's calendars...and another
angel gets his wings ;o)
But the truth is that negotiation is a given part of the scheduling
process. Whether that negotiation is a result of
a. Not having access to perfect free-busy information OR
b. Because you find out you forgot to add someone to the invite list OR
c. Because one of your invitees points out that there are
dependencies you haven't considered that would make the meeting much
more productive if it happened next week
...negotiation and back and forth are inevitable and necessary. And
for some organizations, it's a part of the culture. (As in, auto-
selecting times and auto-dropping events onto people's calendars
comes off as rude and presumptuous.)
So perhaps negotiation itself is not the problem. Rather, it's the
way in which it happens...as lots and lots of emails, disconnected to
the event itself and spread out all over your Inbox.
A second problem with scheduling software which ends up generating a
lot of superfluous negotiation email is that they force users to make
decisions that are either
1. unnecessary (ie. I could meet anytime tomorrow, but Outlook forces
me to pick a specific time. And then I find out that the specific
time I chose doesn't work.) OR
2. that they're not ready to make. (ie. I don't know when we should
have this meeting, I want feedback from the other meeting
participants. But I know we need to have a meeting soon.)
Below is just one proposal for how we might improve the negotiation
process for scheduling. Cutting down noise in negotiation, while
providing a flexible framework for important discussion that's easy
to keep track of.
1a. Select a specific time OR
1b. Select a fuzzy time-frame for a meeting (this would appear as the
Date/Time info for the meeting).
The first two weeks of next month
2. Specify the duration if you know. Otherwise, Chandler assumes some
3. Chandler spits back a list of available times.
10-2PM next Monday
4. Select which times you'd prefer. Maybe even rank order them. The
rest are hidden behind the "more..." link.
5. Write a note to your invitees.
- All negotiations are done in a "conversation" attached to the event.
- No separate emails are generated.
- Everyone can see everyone else's comments.
- The organizer of the meeting is not unduly laden with the
responsibility of coordinating everybody's personal scheduling
quirks: ie. Tom can make it next Tuesday but not Wednesday, but Joyce
said anytime on Wednesday was good for her, but didn't explicitly
Tuesday wasn't an option.
What are some scenarios where this kind of flexibility would be helpful?
1. Picking a good weekend for company events such as the holiday
party and the company picnic.
2. Coordinating who brings what to a potluck.
3. Scheduling a lunch with a friend, non-critical, but you'd like to
see them soon.
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