Rob Davidson, speaker, researcher, and events consultant
Did you see the recent press coverage of a smart new gadget that sits on your desk and indicates to colleagues whether you are open or not open to being disturbed?
The FlowLight uses a traffic light system: a red light means ‘I’m busy, don’t even think about interrupting me’, while a green light indicates that you’re wide open to being disturbed, whether for work-related purposes, to hear the latest office gossip, or to talk about last night’s ‘X Factor’.
Could a similar system be used to help solve two familiar problems in our industry?
Problem number 1: During a conference networking session, you’re in the middle of an intense, one-to-one negotiation with a client. The negotiation has turned to money matters and both parties are deeply focused on getting the best deal, naturally. The deal is on the point of being clinched when some acquaintance of yours from way back dives into your discussion with a massive belly-flap, all back-slapping and loud joking, taking you and your would-be client completely ‘out of the moment’.
Problem number 2: At a trade show (let’s say Confex, for the sake of argument), you see an exhibitor that you want to speak to, as you approach their stand. But they’re sitting opposite someone you don’t recognise, having some sort of tête-à-tête. And try as you may to read their body language, you really can’t tell if they’re talking business, or having a natter about nothing in particular, or, for that matter, they’re having a torrid affair and discussing when exactly he is going to leave his wife. To disturb or not to disturb?
How handy it would be in both these scenarios to have some visual indication showing whether the two people in the confab were open to being interrupted- or not.
A coloured light on your head would have the advantage of being a clear signal to all, but it would have the disadvantage of making you look like a total wally. How about something a little more subtle? Maybe a double-sided conference/exhibition badge, one side with a green background (I’m open to being approached) and one side with a red background (disturb me at your peril)?
Who knows, it could catch on.