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What Did we Meet About?

I’ve written about meetings on more than one occasion (here, here, and here) but I recently ran into a very interesting article by Jared Spool called The One-Minute Test. Jared describes a technique his team uses at the end of meetings to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Given a 60 second time limit, every participant is asked to write down their answers to the following questions:

  1. What was the big idea? (What was the most important thing you heard at the meeting?)
  2. What was your big surprise? (What was the thing you saw or heard that surprised you the most?)
  3. What’s your big question? (What’s the biggest unanswered question you have at this time?)

Each person then share their answers with everyone else (or a moderator can read them as well)…and you can guess what often happens. As expected, you can get some pretty diverse answers – answers that can often save you some trouble later. How often have you walked out of a meeting assuming one thing only to discover that your coworker (or worse your boss) was assuming something totally different? Has that every caused you some pain?

To me, this feels like something that David Allen (author of Getting Things Done) might propose – it would certainly help flesh out the action items. As much as I’d love to apply this approach to my work, our meetings are so packed, I can’t imagine anyone being to keen on me carving off 10-15 minutes to discuss the meeting! Though I think it might actually save time in the long run, I bet that’d be a tough sell… Anyway, I thought this was a pretty interesting approach – one that I hope to employ at some point.

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  1. April 2nd, 2006 at 18:35 | #1

    I’m glad you find the idea intriguing. The time it takes is a concern and, you’re right, it could be valuable in the long run.

    In its shortest form, it only takes a little more than a minute. You have people answer the three questions just as they leave the room. It doesn’t give you a chance, at that moment, to discuss it, but that could happen later over email or someother medium.

    I guess I’m saying I wouldn’t let the time investment scare you from the technique.

  2. April 5th, 2006 at 19:51 | #2

    Thanks for the comments Jared! I didn’t really think about the email route (I’ve written email off a bit due to the amount of “noise” that comes through my inbox) but that would help mitigate some of the “that’s not was I thought” issues. I’m not saying that I would be afraid to use this approach but I suspect some of my coworkers would push back…of course it doesn’t help that our meetings typically start late – which means they then run long leading to an entire day that is behind. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it!

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