Continually improving- keeping our meetings to time
Following on from Liam’s recent blog on how we have got on formalising the Lagom teams approach to continuous improvement, I thought I would share what I have been working on recently.
On my first day at Lagom back in February, I attended the Lagom teams ‘Continuous Improvement show and tell’ meeting. Each team member did a quick demo of what they had worked on over the last month. I was so impressed with how committed and enthusiastic each team member was about the thing they had worked on. I was equally impressed by how much had been achieved by the team in a month.
Following the show and tell each team member decided what they were going to work on next. I had a browse through the delivery management backlog and picked a trello card called “how to keep meetings on time”. I was very new to Lagom and was still trying to find my feet but I felt like as a delivery manager meetings and facilitation would be something I could contribute to.
Each card on the continuous improvement backlog has a ‘definition of done’ and the first step is to understand the problem or the opportunity to improve. So I started to observe our meetings and I chatted to my teammates about their experiences of our meetings. Largely it felt like our meetings did run to time when meeting with clients but sometimes our internal meetings could run on a little.
Then I reached out to one of my best friends, good old Google. I started to search for things like ‘how to keep meetings to time’ and ‘top tips for effective meetings’. I was inundated with blogs and articles with loads of great tips. I started to make notes and what began to emerge was our Lagom Meetings Principles – a set of guidelines of things to do and think before, during and after a meeting to ensure meetings are effective and run to time. I shared these with the team and we have added them to our Lagom playbook.
The things I learnt doing this research and creating the Lagom Meetings Principles were not groundbreaking but reminding myself of them has helped me. One of the things I learnt was around starting the meeting on time even if some attendees haven’t yet joined. It sounds really obvious but if you start the meeting late then you are running late from the offset. Before I would have waited but now on the rare occasion we are waiting for someone we start and catch the person up when they can join.
Another thing I have found really useful and that keeps things on track is keeping an eye on the time in meetings and communicating how long we have left, my team might be getting sick of me saying we have ‘15 minutes left’ but this really seems to help people stay focussed and keep the pace of the meeting moving.
My favourite thing of all has been how as a team we are really thinking about how long we need each meeting to be for and not booking an hour or even half an hour unless we need it. If we only need 15 minutes, then we book 15 minutes and if we can get to the outcome another way we don’t meet for the sake of it. This means I have more desk time to do work and that I am not on video calls all day, which is great for productivity.
As I said our meetings running to time wasn’t a massive issue for us here at Lagom and what we have put in place is nothing fancy but doing some research and all agreeing to some principles has helped us to make some small improvements and that seems to me to be what continuous improvement is all about, small gains. We are going to keep reviewing our meeting principles and how they are working for us so watch out for more on this as we continue to learn and improve.