If you happen to be in a meeting with a written objective and agenda, the agenda will have items like “review the plan”. It sounds reasonable. But it is, in fact, very likely to waste your time.
Simply, there is no definition of success, so you could talk about the plan for hours and still not accomplish whatever goal was underlying the agenda item. What does success look like for “review the plan”? Do you just put it up on the screen and everyone looks at it? Do you review every task in minute detail? If you define meeting agenda items using questions that specify success, that will help you get
out of this problem and have more effective meetings.
Let’s translate “review the plan” into a few example questions to show you what I mean. I’ve included the meeting objective which is another key piece of meeting success.
Objective: Have a plan that ensures we’ll have enough stories for our team to start work on July 1
- Will the current plan enable us to have two sprints worth of user stories ready for building by the team by July 1?
- If no, what do we need to change in the plan to meet that objective?
- When can we get together as a team to work for an uninterrupted block of time to focus on this work?
If the answer is “yes” to the first question, you can move onto the third. When the questions are answered and the objective met, you end the meeting. If the meeting gets off track you can ask “is this discussion pertinent to the question we’re trying to answer?”
Like any tip for better living (eat more green leafy vegetables) practicing this is harder than reading about it. Try it for two weeks and see what you think.
(Thanks to David Spann, who introduced me to this idea in his wonderful meeting facilitation course years ago.)
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