For the longest time, our Monday morning meetings saw each project team giving the company an update on progress, followed by a quick discussion of “any other business”. This check-in was super helpful for the management team, as we could quickly get our heads around the status of each project. It was of more general interest to the rest of the company, giving them a quick idea of what everybody was working on and what was going down the line. It always felt fairly business like and matter-of-fact.
Twelve months ago at a conference in Poland, I got chatting to fellow speaker and agency founder Steve ‘Doc’ Baty. Steve outlined their meeting process, which saw each staff member detail four things:
What they hoped to achieve that week.
A personal or professional highlight from the previous week.
A shout out to somebody who had helped them.
We liked this idea and decided to give it a go. It seems to be working out well so far. Meetings have become less procedural and more humanist, as people share things that are going on outside their work life; a marathon they were training for, a great movie they saw, or a holiday they just came back from. It’s also great to surface good deeds; a workshop somebody helped another person prepare, a coding problem that got solved; or a pitch that went especially well.
The plan was for people to attend the meeting knowing what they were going to say, but due to it being early Monday morning, that never really happened. In the end it became a bit more spontaneous. We tried pushing the meeting back a little later, but this just opened up space for more emails and work calls, rather than meeting preparation, so we just got used to the ad-hoc nature.
Four topics proved a little too many, causing people to get confused, put things out of sequence, or forget them altogether. The learning topic was the most difficult, as people found it hard to recall specific insight they may have learned. After a while we dropped the number of topics down to three.
A few people also felt that while we had gained some personal insight into the working lives of our team, they had lost the bigger picture of what people had been doing. So we switched the question on what people were hoping to achieve that week, to what they were doing. This still feels a little disjointed, focusing on individual activities and contributions, rather than the project as a whole. It feels like a reasonable compromise to make.
A few weeks ago we decided to move the meeting from a Monday to a Friday. This was mostly for practical reasons; the meeting was getting in the way of client and project team stand-ups. I suspect switching days will make it easier for people to remember a highlight or somebody to thank, but I suspect we may need to switch from people explaining what they will be working on next week, to a summary of what they achieved the week just past.
I thought it could be useful to share our new meeting ritual, in case you were inspired to do the same. I’d also be keen to hear what meeting rituals you have. Do you have a weekly company wide meeting, or is this something you only do now on special occasions? Do you follow a typical stand-up format, do project-based check-ins, or have a more formal presentation? Do you run your meeting on Mondays as a planning session, or on Friday afternoons with beer and cocktails, to celebrate the successes of the week?
Whatever you do, we’d love to know more; what you do, why you do it, and how it’s working out for you?