Project Management

Upsides to the Agile Approach to Meetings

No one wants to sit through an unproductive meeting. Despite this, a good chunk of meetings feel like wasted time and ultimately demoralize your team. To keep from wasting time, it might be time to restructure your meetings so you and your team can get the most out of them. In a post at A Girl’s Guide to Project Management, Elizabeth Harrin discusses the benefits of applying an agile approach to your meetings.

How to Prepare Lean Meetings

Harrin starts off by using the Swedish police investigation support project, PUST (Polisens Utredningsstöd), as an example of the agile approach in practice. The 60ish-person group’s daily stand-ups were broken down into meetings with fewer people that were shorter and more productive. The structure ultimately became three 15-minute meetings daily, which was more effective than having one endless meeting.

As far as actual tactics to use to optimize your session, Harrin offers several ideas. Keeping meetings short and eliminating chairs can help your team focus in on what you have to say. If a meeting doesn’t help build up your team or complete work, then it might be time to cancel it. Regular and consistent contact throughout the week might also be a reason to cancel a meeting (because it would be redundant). Harrin goes on to share five tips for better meetings:

  1. Set expectations.
  2. Rotate the role of chair.
  3. Check actions are complete.
  4. Start and end on time.
  5. Prioritize productivity.

She says this about the first tip:

Make sure people know why they are there, so they can plan their contribution in advance: send out an agenda and objectives for the meeting. Allowing anyone to suggest agenda topics can mean that the final version of your agenda contains lots of items that are of no relevance to the majority of attendees, so by all means give people the option of putting forward suggestions for the agenda topics but sanity check them before they make it on to the list.

Rotating the chair is also a way to make sure everyone can contribute to the meeting, but make sure there is a trusted person in charge of taking the minutes. Don’t assume that everything went over in the previous meeting’s action points was completed. The start and end time should be firm, and you should calculate the cost of a meeting that starts late if you want to scare the rest of the team straight.

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