Official project meetings normally take up so much time that most see it as time wasted. How do you ensure you’re getting or delivering information that you want without wasting time? How do you train your team members to be more efficient in sharing information you need?
There is one technique in agile scrum that I particularly like and have found very useful. I’m pretty sure this technique has been around for a long time, only now they have a special name for it: the timeboxed meeting.
Timeboxing is typically used when a project schedule is divided into separate time periods — each period has its own schedule, deliverables and budget.
When you apply timeboxing to a meeting, each team member answers three questions:
- What was done yesterday?
- What challenges were faced?
- What is the plan for today?
Ideally, three minutes is given to each person to answer in a timeboxed meeting. So if five people are giving updates, only 15 minutes is spent in total. Upon finishing, members immediately go back to completing their tasks. If anyone is unable to attend the meeting, an email containing answers to the three questions suffices.
In reality, having team members summarize their last 24 hours into three minutes is challenging. Without focus, and practice, they will undoubtedly fall into the trap of over-elaborating and, worse, finger pointing.
In the beginning, you might want to try five minutes per person, but reduce the number of participants. This means you will have more than one session of timeboxed meetings. As your team gets more comfortable, start reducing the time and adding team members per session.
Remember, the idea is to hold these meetings daily with the objective of sharing updated information quickly. As an added benefit, you’re indirectly coaching your team members to be more focused and efficient.
As project managers, we have to determine whether a technique is counterproductive. If the idea of having a daily update meeting seems too taxing, try holding them every other day. If you feel that getting team members together at one time is difficult, improvise and ask them to send text messages or email instead.
Have you used timeboxed meeting techniques? What methods do you use to increase the reporting efficiency within your project team?
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