Project Meetings in a Fast Moving Environment

In a post today at The Project Management Hut, Tom Ferguson gives some excellent advice about running a project meeting.  It is well worth reading Project Meetings in Harmony for the basics of good meeting management.  I particularly liked Tom’s advice to end the meeting in the spiritof a social event:  “Thank all for their time, participation and contribution. If a meeting is stormy, smooth ruffled feathers and do some maintenance on damaged relationships. “

I have too often seen project meetings as purely transactional and have rushed off at the end with my record of decisions and actions, ready t move to the next task.

One project I was involved in turned all of Tom’s advice on its head, however.

On this project, things moved fast and we needed a forum to resolve issues at a senior level.  We constituted our “Working Group” meetings very differently.  As everyone filed in, they would start pouring coffee and chatting (the social event) and at the same time, I would canvas opinions from each person as to their top two or three issues that they needed to discuss. I would record each one on a whiteboard or flipchart.

Then, once everyone had taken their seats, we went around the room offering each of us to put a few words to each topic, so we could understand the issue.  Then we took a poll to establish the priority order of the topics.

We would work through the topics as briskly as we could; in strict priority order.

We would stop five minutes before the scheduled end of the meeting and quickly put two or three sets of initials against each outstanding item.  It would be down to those people to meet, email or phone each other to create a resolution.

The “so what?”

Every meeting finished on time, every meeting dealt directly with the most important issues, every issue got assigned.

Not a bad way to work

No stated outcomes, no agenda, no control.  Or were there?  I would say yes, but they were all implicit:

–  Outcomes:  Issues dealt with
–  Agenda:       Strict priority order
–  Control:       Discipline



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