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Running Effective Meetings

Posted by Mike on December 6th, 2005

Norman Bodek has written a short piece on Running Effective Meetings, as part of the Kaizen Blog project. In it, he advocates a format for stand-up meetings and contrasts that to a traditional meeting approach. I agree that his format for conducting a stand-up meeting is great. However, it only seems practical for co-located teams.

Here are some questions that Norman asks:
7. Questions:

       a. Did you participate?

      b. Did you feel the meeting had real value to your work?

      c. Do you look forward to those meeting?

      d. Etc.?

7.a The answer to 7a is a personal one. Either you will participate or you will not. Obviously, a culture that encourages participation will help with this.
7b. Many meetings can be low value. It is very important that the meeting organizer sets up and runs the meeting to gain maximum value for the participants.
7c. If 7b is handled well, people will look forward to meetings. If there are too many meetings, it won’t matter how good a particular meeting is run. People will get burnt out on meetings and probably just want some time to themselves to “get things done.”

I propose a hybrid of the stand-up meeting and the traditional meeting. This helps when teams are not co-located.

  1. Have a standing meeting time and place, but don’t be afraid to call a meeting when it is needed.
  2. Build your meeting plan (agenda) on stated problems.
  3. Work each problem, one at a time.
  4. Make sure that everyone can briefly say what they want to say.
  5. Gain agreement on a course of action.
  6. Get a reliable promise to carry out that course of action.
  7. Iterate, until all the problems are discussed.
  8. Thank everyone and close the meeting.
  9. Document the meeting.

This isn’t exactly a lean approach, but I believe it does help improve the traditional meeting. One thing that I try to do is keep status reporting to a minimum. Status reporting is hard to avoid completely, but I do feel that people find more value, from a meeting, where problems are solved.

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