Love them or loathe them, meetings are an inevitability of the business world. Often our negative feelings towards meetings are caused by a belief that they’re ineffective, frustrating, or pointless. Even those of us who have had positive and exciting meetings, we’ve all experienced those feelings at one point or another.
Harvard University, in a mission not related directly to meetings, set out to aid schools in getting more value out of their test results through a project called DataWise. As you might expect, this massive project spawned thousands of meetings and a mixed bag of positive progress and static plateauing. As a result, the project team began to wonder if there was something different about the meetings at the schools making headway.
What they found were a number of issues that plagued the poor performing schools’ meetings, such as unclear meeting agendas, domineering participants, and an overall lack of engagement. After viewing what wasn’t working against what was, the DataWise project organizers wrote a book called MeetingWise wherein they detailed these issues.
The Post Meeting Analysis
While many of these issues are ones we’ve heard before, one that particularly stood out was the post-meeting analysis. After every meeting DataWise project participants take part in a five-minute “plus/delta”, which means the team takes time to note the things that went well — the pluses — and the things people think could change — the deltas.
By addressing things right away, the idea is to avoid resentments and negative feelings. In this same light, the language used during the plus/delta session should be constructive in nature. Making the plus/delta a regular practice also helps prevent against repeating patterns that derail meetings or make them less efficient. For example, you might address the fact that not all participants received documents pertinent to the meeting ahead of time, or that it felt like lower priority agenda items received more air time.
Post meeting analysis is critical to keeping meetings moving forward and efficient. By keeping track of what’s working and what needs to be changed, you’ll assure progress instead of the status quo.
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