Feb 22 – Prepare twice, meet once


Make sure your meetings are set up to make the most of your time together.

Cheetah Certified Project Manager (CCPM) Tip of the Day

February 22 – When meeting with others, respect your time and theirs. When all parties take twice the time to prepare as is set for the meeting, the meeting is more productive and focused.


Michelle LaBrosse CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP

My first day as a Research Scientist at United Technologies, I was invited to a meeting for a web development project a group of engineers wanted to consider. I got to the meeting at the scheduled time. It was to last from 2 PM to 4 PM. Since it was my first day on the job, I was not sure how many people were to be attending this meeting. In the conference room at 2 PM, I met one of my co-workers. I said, “Wow this is a small meeting – we could have just met in either of our offices.” His reply: “Oh, no, this is a group of about ten of us.” By 2:30, nine of the people who needed to be at the meeting were present. I asked what I thought was a very simple question: “What is the agenda?” The other folks looked at me as if I had three heads. By 3pm, the tenth person arrived and we could finally start the meeting. For the next hour, we had a very loose brain storming of what we liked about other websites. People started leaving at 3:30. By 4, it was just three of us. I inquired, “is this how meetings are run here all the time?” The answer, “yes, pretty much – we’re ‘research.'” Hmmm, I thought, what type of research is really going on here?

The next day, I was invited to another meeting for the same purpose in another week. I took the initiative to create an agenda ahead of time. I sent it to all the participants if this would be acceptable to them. I got full consensus. When the meeting started, I decided to start my own “research” project. I jotted down people’s names as they entered the room and the time they entered the room. At the top of the list, I put – “Meeting Starting Time: 2 PM.” The last guy to show up was one of the big wigs – his name was Ed. Ed showed up at 3:15. Even with Ed’s tardiness, we had a much more productive meeting. In my haste to leave the meeting, I left my “research” project on the white board. The head of the research division liked to walk around the facility from time to time and noticed my “research project” on the white board in the conference room. He had a weekly meeting with his direct report Ed the next day and inquired why, for a meeting that was to start at 2, did he showed up at 3:15? Believe me, I got an earful from Ed, but Ed was never late again to one of my meetings. Ed enlisted my assistance with running his meetings from there on out. I became known as a go-to person for running important meetings at the Research Center. A year later when they disbanded my department, they kept me on to make sure the meetings there were productive and cost effective. How you run a meeting DOES matter.

Next time you’re in a meeting that is a slow road to no where, start to figure out how much money this meeting is costing. Even if it’s a volunteer meeting, there is an opportunity cost in what else you could be doing with your time. My favorite type of meeting format these days is the Agile daily sprint meeting. But to work, this takes a commitment to doing an Agile Project Management process and working in a two-week sprint format. Every day of the Agile Sprint, you do a daily stand-up meeting lasting no more than 15 minutes where you check in with each other how you’re doing on your two-week sprint project and what you need to give or get from one of your team members.

If it’s important enough to have a meeting, it’s important enough to make it matter. As a Cheetah Certified Project Manager (CCPM), you learn how to run effective meetings for every stage of your project. You even learn how to set up meetings so negotiations go more in your favor. Think about how much this alone would be worth to you? Become a CCPM and make the most of your time and that of everyone else you know.

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