Saturday, December 26, 2015

Always Enter a Meeting with a Goal, Always Leave a Meeting with a Decision

One of the biggest time wasters in the corporate world and even in your personal life the delayed decision making.  Interestingly, the cost is not just dollars, but also in dreams and goals.

One of my most frustrating experiences is having a meeting twice when it could have been done once.  I either facilitate or participate in 1 to 2 meetings per day.  On a monthly basis I facilitate a couple business unit status and brainstorming meetings. In some cases, there is a clear path that is desired and other times there is a very vague notion of the future.

When there is a clear path, it is time to seize the moment and move forward. It’s at this point that many people begin to pause and mentally stutter about moving forward.

There is art and science in the timing of decision and I find making decision quickly seems to result in getting to your goals sooner.

When I enter into a meeting, I usually have the word, “Decide” in the meeting goal so that people are pre-programmed to know that we intended to put some down in writing and agree. Here are some examples:
  • Review Architecture Options and DECIDE on Architecture for Initial Release
  • Review Subcontract options from vendors and DECIDE on which vendor to go with
  • Review and Update Development Process proposal (DECIDE is implied with the word “Update”)
The Better Meeting Magic Deciding … always leave with a decision.

Tip #1: Leave time at the end of your meeting (10 minutes) to review your meeting and make sure you’ve achieve your meeting GOAL

If you’ve followed my series of posts from the beginning, “Change Your Meetings and Change Your Life”, you are aware that having an effective meeting is not by accident.  You must create an environment for effective collaboration and decision making.

As part of your meeting plan, give yourself time to review the goals at the end of your meeting. Review the “GOAL” statement in your own mind and then ask others if they agree that you’ve met the goal.

Tip #2: Use multi-voting to DECIDE on the 1 or 2 things.

Multi-voting is one of my favorite decision making tools.  I use this all the time to help decide among a set of well understood options.  To make DECIDING easier, you needed to complete BRAINSTORMING (see my article, "In a Meeting What is Best for Creative Problem Solving? Total Freedom or Well Defined Process?”) and NARROWING (see “How to Find Great Ideas from a Massive Sea of Brainstorming Information”).
Here’s the process of multi-voting:
  1. Pick the number of results that you to get out of the process…you want to start working on 1 idea, then give each person 1 vote.  Or you want to get the top 3 ideas, then give people 3 votes.  This process works best when you want start working on 2 to 5 ideas 
  2. If you have sticky dots, had out the number of sticky dots equal to the votes to each person.  You can pass out markers if you don’t have sticky dots and then use the honor system to insure people count their votes correctly.
  3. Have each person vote by placing a dot or mark on the sticky note or idea on the white board.  
  4. Each person vote distribute their votes any way they like (e.g. all dots on a single item or 1 dot for each of their priorities).
  5. When finished, you will usually have a majority of the votes on the item that people think is the highest priority.
Caveats: If you play this game with really smart people, you should make them vote privately, because I’ve had people game the system in the past by waiting for everyone else to post votes and then the tricky smart person stuff one particular item 5 votes and thus threw of the entire process.

Tip #3: Send the meeting minutes and a summary of decisions as quick as possible

  • Take pictures of the whiteboard and/or wall with sticky notes, dots, markers etc.  
  • Include all this information in a word document or on SharePoint site or OneNote page or Wiki or Confluence page. 
  • It needs to be accessible for everyone.
  • Make sure you summarize the major decisions.

I’d like to hear how you facility the decision process? What works for you?