Can your meeting format impact your project success?

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I visited a client site this week and found that the black belt projects were progressing quite slow. When I attended a few project meetings, I recognized a pattern across all the teams; informal meeting practices.

Why should your care?  Well if your project meetings are more like group discussions and the progress is very slow, then you need to review these tasks.

In our courses we cover how to run an effective project meeting, but it must not have an adequate emphasis. So I will go over what Smarter Solutions recommends for the best success in a project meeting

Before each meeting create an agenda with the following characteristics;

  • Include the problem statement or other review of the team purpose
  • List of outstanding actions (both due in the meeting and on later dates)
  • List of parking lot issues to be considered later
  • List of activities for the meeting (each item having a time duration assigned)
  • Time to review new actions (with a time)
  • Discussion of next meeting date and agenda (with a time)
  • *Review of meeting (plus/delta type discussion) should be done every few meetings

For each meeting select a attendees for the following roles; note taker, time keeper

  • The note take will record all discussion points, actions assigned, and new parking lot items.  They provide a typed transcript to the leader after the meeting
  • The time keeper will track the agenda time periods and remind the team to keep to the plan.  Any change to the agenda times will be agreed to by the entire team.

As the meeting progresses, the leader should minimize side discussions and keep to the agenda.  If the leader or a team member wants to bring up a topic not on the agenda, the team must all decide to change the plan.  Other options are to add the topic to the next meeting’s agenda or take it off line and out of the team’s critical path by delegating it to a person to follow up.

Other course advice;

  • Keep meetings at a routine time and day of the week (it helps the participants schedule)
  • Keep meetings at the same location (keeps things familiar)

Now for a few personal advice.

  1. Only hold meetings to make decisions, avoid status meetings.  If the goal is to provide status to the team, consider using email or other vehicle to meet this need.
  2. Keep meetings to a scheduled 1 hour and plan to be completed in 50 minutes.  Getting people out early shows respect for the team members time.
  3. Always start right on time.
  4. Never run past the end time for a meeting without a 100% agreement by your team members
  5. If you do not have enough attendance to make a binding team decision, then cancel the meeting right away.
  6. Consider including a short “State of the business” or other topic discussion for possibly 5 minutes if the team members do not generally have access to that information.  This could be a review of a recent product, audit, major contract, or the financial performance.  This can really help the team dynamics by keeping them aware of the business success.
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