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Do Tech and Meetings Mix? There comes a point when gadgets detract from meetings. Or does there?

By Chris Penttila

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When managers at Adaptive Path looked around the room during meetings, they saw employees sneaking peeks at their BlackBerrys and surreptitiously surfing their smartphones. "It seemed like people would show up for meetings, but they were only halfway there," says co-founder and co-president Jesse James Garrett, 37. "They were distracted." Distraction was leading to delays at the San Francisco experience strategy and design firm. Employees didn't catch the whole conversation, leaving managers to fill in the blanks and arrange multiple meetings to make basic decisions. By the spring of 2006, Adaptive Path's management team decided that enough was enough: It prohibited technology from meetings where important decisions would be made, including board meetings.

The reaction was mixed. "Some people felt it was long overdue," says Garrett, "and for others, it forced such a shift in their behavior that it was hard to adjust."

Carl Honoré, author of In Praise of Slowness, isn't surprised by this trend, which he feels is as much about regaining creativity as it is about attentiveness. "It was this explosion of creativity that allowed us to invent these gadgets," he says. "But now we're finding that the gadgets, because we're misusing them, are backfiring. They're actually eroding our creativity."

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