February 21, 2013 5 Comments
Regardless of source, style, or bias, experts/ authorities on effective meetings mandate the use of structured agendas. Some organizations even encourage meeting participants NOT to attend if there is no agenda, since the meeting time represents a high probability of wasted time. He or she who controls the agenda, controls the meeting. Additionally, a survey of meeting experts suggests the following suggestions are embraced and encouraged by most:
- All agendas should include a beginning, middle, and an end. Do not skip the beginning or the end. See other FAST blogs or your Reference Manuals for details on how to manage robust introductions and wraps.
- An agenda needs to be written down so that everyone can refer to the same visual referent.
- Drafting an agenda with the minutes (ie, deliverable) in mind makes it easier to create the natural steps required to complete the meeting. For example, a “Wedding Plan” might include decisions about food, music, and ceremony while a project plan might include situation analysis, alignment, and assignments.
- Participant input should be captured in advance to make modifications or additions. Since we expect the participants to own the output of the meeting, they should be entitled to some voice into HOW the output is derived.
- Simple agenda steps ought reflect WHAT is the object (ie, noun) of the step and not HOW (ie, verb) you are going to facilitate the activity. Save the detail, method, and tools for your private, annotated agenda. See our picture that illustrates each agenda should focus on a discrete outcome (ie, a condition) or output (ie, something that can be documented).
- The agenda should be circulated before the meeting, earlier is better.
- Time box strategic discussions, unless you are hosting a strategic planning sessions. Many tactical andoperational meetings get bogged down with strategic issues thatshould be deferred to a separate time and place. In other words, most meetings waste time discussing stuff not related to the deliverable of the meeting or the agenda; ie,scope creep within a meeting.
The agenda represent the method by which you are using a group of people to advance a common cause. Respect it. Do it. Share it.
Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.
Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills
The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).
Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.
- Four Activities to Efficiently and Effectively Wrap-up a Meeting (facilitativeleadership.wordpress.com)
- Taking Charge of Poorly Led Meetings When You are Not the Leader (facilitativeleadership.wordpress.com)
- 8 ways to have more productive meetings in 2013 (whiteboardmag.com)