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Make all meetings scrum meetings

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It is amazing anything gets done in today’s workplace where people seem to spend most of their time in meetings, on conference calls, and responding to emails. Today I am going to cover meetings since this is one area that I think all of us can commiserate that we meet too much and get done too little. Instead I think we can take a lesson from the agile daily scrum meeting as the type of meeting to emulate.

For those of you not familiar with agile and the daily scrum meeting here is the 411. Agile meetings are stand-up meetings – yes literally people stand with the intent that the meeting should be short and people don’t have time to sit. Further, agile meetings are time boxed where the meeting lasts 15 min. and is geared at the key agile participants answering three key questions:

  1. What did you do yesterday?
  2. What are you doing today?
  3. Are there any obstacles you are facing?

All these questions are geared at focusing the team and ensuring maximum progress while supporting a strongly collaborative team.

This does not mean that every meeting has to be 15 minutes and there are three questions that everyone needs to answer. But, I do think when designing a meeting you should ask yourself the following:

  • What is the meeting purpose? You absolutely should never schedule a meeting without a clear meeting purpose. Avoid “touchbase” meetings as generally they have too many people and provide too little value.
  • Who are the necessary meeting participants? Only invite people that are necessary to the discussion. People like to be inclusive and this means meeting size becomes overwhelming and further too many people want to be part of too many “decisions”. Meetings should have 6 or less people to ensure maximum productivity. There are of course situations where larger groups of executives and other “marketing” meetings need to take place but don’t expect that those meetings will derive much value other than marketing.
  • How long should the meeting take? Avoid marathon meetings. Often times calendar default meetings are 1 hour but you can switch this. Try bringing that default meeting time to 30 min. or even 15 min. and it will force you to more consciously create longer meetings. I think most meetings should be 30 minutes or less. There are certainly situations where brainstorming or idea sessions take longer than 30 minutes but take at least one break every hour.
  • What is the meeting format and agenda? Meetings have many types of dynamics and formats. My preference is that a meeting be driven to be less professorial by the meeting host and more discussion driven to get input and results. The meeting organizer must be prepared though and have any data or information put together ahead of the meeting. Further, sharing this information and agenda of meeting ahead of time is optimal. The expectation that every invitee should come to the meeting prepared and if they had the agenda beforehand and supporting data, graphics, or information then the meeting itself will be much more beneficial for all.

These are some key tips to keep a meeting short and productive similar to the intent of an agile daily scrum meeting. While it is not easy to follow all the items above, it is certainly beneficial when you do and you will feel better after each meeting.

Have an awesome week and remember to do something today to supercharge your success.

As always appreciate your feedback, emails, comments, likes, and re-tweets!

photo credit: Priorização de assuntos para o jogo Mob Mind Map. via photopin (license)

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Do not let perfection get in the way of progress

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There is always the quality versus quantity mantra we all hear. Almost every leader says they stress quality. But, quality does not mean perfection and most people get caught in this trap. Most highly successful people ensure that progress is being made and do not let perfection get in the way.

I know at this point you are going to say wait how about people like the late Steve Jobs and his relentless pursuit of perfect design at Apple. Certainly there is an argument that Steve Jobs would not tolerate anything but perfection but he also realized that progress mattered also. When Steve Jobs came back to Apple he quickly reduced the number of products to devote resources to ensure desired progress could be made.

Insisting on perfection for everything generally results in a bad return on your investment. In the past big brands would have expensive, perfection-focused marketing campaigns that were completely planned out prior to beginning. Nowadays there is a push on agile marketing for a better return on investment since it is an iterative approach that allows for progress and does not require perfection. Another example is people in the past would ensure that they have perfect emails or letters to communicate with their colleagues and this formality had a cost. Nowadays there is a push to use instant messaging or texting to communicate messages with a push towards making progress. Highly successful people are leaders in identifying what “level of perfection” each situation warrants with the eye towards progress.

Here are a few helpful tips to help you avoid the trap of letting perfection get in the way of progress trap:

  • Value: Understand the value of whatever you are doing. This is true whether it is customer facing or not. Not all emails are the same. Not all memos are the same. Not all processes are the same. Knowing what your objective is and what value it is going to provide. Of course when you are talking about releasing a end facing customer product this value is a lot different than putting together an internal memo on some run of the mill internal process change.
  • Perfect vs. good enough: Compare the cost and benefit of the perfect versus good enough. Progress is often ruled by the good enough. There is often a lot of value by implementing something and learning from it and then adjusting it. This is at the core of agile product development and concepts like the minimum viable product mentioned by people like Eric Ries in the Lean Startup.
  • Urgency: Many times there is urgency in getting something completed and by the very nature of spending more time to get perfect will result in the urgency of the item to be missed. Just think of a customer that has a critical problem with your product and they need a solution now. They do not need a perfect solution 4 weeks from now but instead want something now to get things moving again.

Most people want to do a good job and highly successful people want to ensure their brand is strong and they deliver a quality product. However, those same successful people understand that having everything perfect means you just don’t get what you need done. Understand where to put your resources and be alright with saying something is good enough.

As always appreciate your feedback, emails, comments, likes, and re-tweets!

photo credit: Craig A Rodway via photopin cc