I was talking with a co-worker about his approach when scheduling meetings, since he has been having some success in changing his approach. Anyone who knows me knows my perspective is that a cancelled meeting is always a good meeting.
First thing to have an effective meeting is to validate that a meeting is really needed. We were talking about the number of times your sitting on a phone call or in a face-to-face meeting wonder “Why am I here?” or “Were they lonely and just needed someone to talk with?” Many times people could just have sent along a document and asked us to read it, asynchronously, rather than schedule a meeting. This meeting proliferation behavior may be a sign of how little attention people feel they get, since the only way they can get your attention is to get everyone together at the same time. Anyway…
He said he picked up this technique somewhere along the way and since it sounded useful, I thought I’d pass it along. It is called POST and it sets a standard level of expectation for a meeting:
P – Purpose – Document why we are having this meeting.
O – Outcomes – The expected deliverables from the meeting
S - Structure – The supporting materials used to facilitate this meeting (e.g., PowerPoints, project plans)
T- Timing – How much time will be allocated for the meeting.
He said that once he started using this approach, people took his meetings more seriously and the meetings actually got shorter. There are a couple of things I mentioned that I’d do as part of this:
1) Let everyone know that if they prepare we should be able to get this meeting completed in X minutes, if not we will allocate the whole meeting time.
2) Let them know everyone who will be attending
There are some expectations for those using the process:
- There should be 5 days’ notice of the meeting unless it is critical, so everyone can be prepared
- Every person should know what is expected of them before, during and after the meeting
- Everyone should know what media will be supported (virtual, teleconference) or if they will be needed in the room.
- At the end of the meeting, there will be minutes including at least a summary of the decisions, action items and who will be held accountable
- And of course -- Meetings run to time
All these actions and expectations seem like common courtesy, but in this event-driven, multi-tasking world, meeting decorum seems to have fallen by the wayside.
You may have seen the announcement that HP is selling off its visual collaboration business to Polycom.
This change should actually be good for the current customers as well as the market in general. The idea of teleconferencing is not new and mobile teleconferencing is a natural extension. It will likely be more software standard focused than high-end hardware focused and further enable the new more agile business approach.
HP has already said “HP will embed Polycom's videoconferencing software in tablets and mobile phones running WebOS. The software is scheduled to be available on both types of devices within 90 days”. The integration of these more consumer-oriented, mobile devices into the business teleconferencing capability should be interesting to watch.
Of course this coming on the heels of Microsoft’s purchase of Skype should mean that the whole Unified Communications market could be in for some redefinition.