On Monday, I asked you to review your meeting formats.
Now I want you to look back. Which of those meetings were productive? Which encouraged healthy collaboration, and which had a bunch of people staring into space (or worse, doing other work at the same time)?
Of the unproductive meetings, what was the format like? Did they stick to a specific style, or meander about? Was there someone keeping the discussion on track, or was facilitation left to whoever had the most clout or influence? Was there a clear goal for the meeting?
I can guess the answers to most of these questions. In my experience, unproductive meetings tend not to have any kind of defined format, no agenda, or no facilitation. I find that simply naming the meeting more specifically can help a lot with this. If it’s a 1-to-1 discussion, with the goal of bringing issues to light, we can name it as such: “Alice and Bob discuss potential issues”. If the goal is to make a decision on our new home page after we’ve already gathered a lot of information through discussion, let’s call it “Make a decision on the new home page”.
And if it’s to come up with ideas, debate them, and then make a decision, call it that: “come up with ideas for improving user engagement, then debate them, then make a decision”. When your meeting name is too long and repeatedly uses the name “and”, we can refactor, breaking it into pieces.
A lot of software development boils down to naming things well, recognising smells, and refactoring mercilessly. I encourage you to do the same thing with your conversations.
Again, I’m really interested to know your thoughts and reflections on this topic. Please let me know in the comments or on Twitter.