Posted by: cmtalbert | November 17, 2011

Meetings, meetings, meetings

If you work someplace, you have meetings.  It’s impossible not to.  Because the Automation and Tools team works on many different projects simultaneously, it was natural for us to have one big meeting a week to discuss the status of these projects, raise concerns, make announcements etc.  This is also the one meeting I’d invite outside contributors to so that they can learn who everyone on the team is and what we’re all doing.

However, week after week as I asked for each project’s status and listened to it, I wondered why on earth would anyone want to come to this?  And why were we spending an hour each week boring ourselves to tears when we could be doing something useful like being silly on IRC? So, the A-team and I talked about it, and we decided to do an experiment with the meeting.  Here’s what we’ve been doing for November:

  • One person spends an hour or so a week collecting the status from everyone on the team.
  • That person puts together the wiki page.
  • At the meeting on Monday, that person is the emcee and does a five minute run down of the week’s highlights.  This is the toughest job.  We have a great team, and there are always a lot of highlights.
  • After that, we raise any issues that need raising and discuss them, five to ten minutes.
  • The emcee gets to pick the emcee for the following week.
  • Then we remind people to check the wiki page for the schedule of project-specific meetings that week, and we’re done.

The entire thing takes no more than twenty minutes, and most weeks it takes less than ten. So far, I have to say I’m a fan of the new meeting.  I worried that I’d lose my ability to stay abreast of what is happening on our projects, but that hasn’t been the case.  In fact, if you compare the wiki pages from before with these new ones, you’ll see that our emcees do an amazing job pulling together the data and communicating the highlights.

The other benefit this gives us is that as we grow into a larger team, it’s harder for all of us to interact.  Our rotating emcee gives each person a chance to talk with everyone else on the team and learn something about everyone’s projects.

I don’t know if this would work well for other teams, but it has worked really well for us so far.  If you’d like to drop in, here’s the information about our meeting.  This week’s emcee is our illustrious maple-bacon-cake-baking, cowboy-boot-wearing intern, Tfair.



  1. I’ve had similar thoughts about the Monday project meeting.

    Sometimes it’s a bit long and dry, but one of the things I’ve always liked about it was there are always interesting tidbits. New things, new projects, notable changes, etc. I think it’s inherently hard to ask each part of the project to “only go over the interesting tidbits,” because there’s natural motivation for folks to include things that maybe don’t quiiiite make the cut.

    So your idea of a emcee could very much help with that — get the wiki updated with details in the day(s) leading up to the meeting, and have the emcee pick and choose what’s worth Everybody’s Time to call out.

    • I don’t know if this idea would work for the big Monday meeting. I hadn’t thought about that, but perhaps you’re on to something Justin.

  2. Great idea, Clint! I’m glad it’s working wonders.

    Justin, I think this approach would work really well if we make it in a webcast or something of the same ilk.

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