Do you really need a meeting? Do you know what how to get to the heart of the matter in every meeting? How to get rid of the time waste? What is MOM and how to write Meeting Minutes?
Hey Crizpers, let’s talk about the meetings. How many times have you realized that a meeting you are on is a simple waste of time? Have you ever felt that all the key points could have been outlined in an email? And that email should have taken about a minute or two to read.. Let’s outline when a meeting is a waste. And define, how to compose a valuable MOM should a meeting has finally happened.
When a Meeting is a Waste
I propose not to consider stuff from the methodology ceremonies as waste. I am talking about Scrum meetings, Sprint planning or review, project kick-of or even 1:1 with the team. You could check more items from that list in the ‘How to DRIVE Team engagement‘ article. These are the discipline and strategic activities. But what about a case when someone is initiating a a not-planned meeting or asking you to conduct it?
First of all, check out how many people are going to participate. If there is only two or three guys invited, most likely this will be a waste of time. Reaching out to them in a chat could be more efficient and should not take a lot of time.
If there are way too many people. If this is not a company training of a formal updates announcement, this could be a waste either. People may need to shift their tasks for spending their valuable time on that sync.
Is it gonna be a Junk?
How to make sure it is not going to be an unnecessary action and to clarify the situation instantly? Check the topic of the meeting and ensure there is no option to discuss it over an email or a chat.
Besides, ensure you are a relevant person to participate. If you feel your presence is not required, it would be wise to reach out to the meeting initiator. Try to get more clarity on the question why would you need to participate.
Define, who exactly is involved and whether these people have a relation to the meeting topic. Could they bring a valuable input?
Verify the meeting duration to find out how much time this undertaking is going to eat from your business day.
Of course, there are situations when you would not have time and chance for all the above. However, if you do, that effort may help putting a ray of light to the event and saving your hours.
What it was about?
What is the most common problem after a meeting? People are struggling to recall what exactly they were talking about. Often almost no-one can recall what they have agreed on in the end. Or, people may remember the solutions differently and this causes a contradiction further. This is a challenge to keep in mind all the action that is necessary to take after.
Moreover, colleagues may not even remember who have been on that call. Another confusing situation is when people do not know each other. After the introduction they may forget the name of the opponent.
To sum up the issues above, you have a right to request for a report about the meeting afterwards with the action items and the decision made in it. This will serve well for everybody who has been there. Besides, people would have a chance to question the information provided. Should they remember additional details of if their vision contradicts with what is written, there is a possibility of discussing. My advice here is to always ask your pears to read and to replay the MOM after. That will help to ensure everybody is OK with the final content.
How to Prepare a Meeting
In the situation when an initiative comes from you, most likely you are will be the one who writes the minutes.
First of all, let’s define what MOM is. Apparently, the abbreviation means the minutes of meeting, or Meeting Minutes, which is equal.
Obviously you should not perceive it literally and there is no need to write down every phrase per minute. However, there are mandatory items we need to mention in the document. That gives a transparency to the point of the meeting. We are to catch up on all the important details that we have touched base during this meeting and to record them accordingly.
Initially, a good move would be to outline the relevance of the meeting and to list the topics that you are going to discuss. Every topic should have its duration and the name of a reporter. Share a chance to get prepared. If there is a presentation or a document you are going to talk about, supply the links too. Time, date, duration and participants are evident. Once done, send this information over to all the people who should be present a good time in advance asking for confirmation that they are in.
How to write MOM
Ok, we have sent the invitations. People have confirmed they are going to participate and all the key persons are engaged. The time comes and we need to note every important nuance regarding the solutions we will agree on or decisions that will be made.
If you write really fast, this is still not the best way for noting every word that was said. Making a video / audio record would not work as the best solution either. Firstly you need to get permissions from all the participants. Next, it will take the same time as the meeting itself to revive all the information from the record. It might be helpful just in case someone is absent, or if you will need an evidence of the meeting details.
What is in
So what should we do? We need to grasp all the important nuances and details from the conversation and to write down the decisions and the action items to keep everybody on the same page. What I am proposing is to have a preliminary composed template. In this case you will simply need to fill it during the meeting with the relevant information. I am referring to the details such as the cover info that you have pushed in the email, and other. Like time spent for every topic; solutions proposed and decisions made per topic; actionable items and assignees per topic; due dates for the action items; next meeting date if applicable.
Please be punctual. To minimize the waste, a meeting should start on time and should not take more than it was announced in the invitation. Keep the track of the session and timely inform the participants about the necessity to make a decision or to switch to another topic. Besides, no irrelevant questions should be discussed. Otherwise this will impact the time allocated for the meeting. And there is a chance you will not make a decision about the initial problem you wanted to discuss. Remember, we are here for a good reason and need to make informed decisions.
Once done and the MOM is ready, share it with your colleagues and other participants. A nice tone is to do this within 24 hours after the meeting.
Let me know what other information you include in MOM? How often do you have meetings and have you ever declined an invitation to them?
2 thoughts on “Do you really need a Meeting?”
“New is long forgotten old” – people say. This is true. Each meeting within a company is a tool for decision-making. Each decision, to become a working management tool, should be documented and clarified for everyone involved.
From my past work experience as a Secretary and Personal Assistant, I can say that the meeting minutes template can be found in any Record Keeping Instruction which, if not developed within a company, can always be found in the State/National or QMS Standards.
Requirements to Meeting Minutes are pretty much easy and clear, but unfortunately not used in IT sphere. One of the possible reasins is a fear of bureaucracy. Documenting decisions and even the results often looks like time-wasting procedure. But what is not taken into consideration is that it may help reduce much more time and efforts in the end
To be an effective working tool, meeting notes should meet the following requirements:
1. Each taken decision should be documented as a separate action item.
2. Responsible employee, due dates should be defined for each action item.
3. Responsible employees should read the meeting notes and verify that they understand their action items and confirm the due dates.
4. There should be a person who will monitor due dates and gather the information about completed action items into one place. The best place is near or inside the meeting notes. Smth like: “To do – What have been done”. If any responsible employee cannot meet due dates, he/she should report to his manager about it.
To sum up, each meeting decision should be treated like “The President said” and this culture should be trasmitted from the top management level, first of all.
In IT companies, it is possible to treat meetings as an effective tool. Here is my plan:
1) There should be someone who will calculate the costs of inefficient meetings and losses from the misunderstandings due to the unreported decisions.
2) A training “How to conduct meetings” should be conducted. This training should be recorded and documented. A mandatory test should be taken by each employee after this training.
3) Each manager must comply with the “Conduct Meetings” policy and not only decline all meeting requests without a meeting agenda, but also demanding the employee who initated such a meeting, to take a test one more time.
4) Each meeting lasted more than 30 minutes should be treated as a risk factor for the risk of wasting company resources. The efficiency of such meetings should be evaluated separately by the top managers.
5) All meeting notes and related artifacts should be stored in one place. It is a great idea to make them searchable. It may help in the future to track the history of the development of the products and company itself.
Thank you for such a detailed comment on this topic! You are proposing a great step-by-step solution on how to accurately organize and implement a meetings procedure in a company culture. That’s awesome! Obviously, the goal we are aiming to get through all the meetings is to speed up decision making and to improve the efficiency of work. Meetings themselves should not impact negatively to the main goal 🙂
I like the idea of the ‘Conduct Meeting’ policy and the training. Maybe a good move for big companies would be to process the internal workflow guideline trainings in general on a regular basis to train new employees and to allow others brushing up their knowledge about the company processes.