Hello all,

My first post of a series that features the experiences we shared from Agile2014.

I attended a session on improving the way to have “meetings”. We define meeting in the following way; noun: meeting; “an assembly of people, especially the members of a society or committee, for discussion or entertainment.”

Let us extend that view and include our activities such as Planning, Retrospectives and any other type of activities that we engage in as a Team. The premise to the session is that a good portion of us attend very poor and useless meetings, Why is that? The answer would lie in little attention to the moments “before” and “after” our meetings. We tend to focus on the phase “during” and lose many opportunities to capitalize on what we are trying to achieve way before we set foot in the meeting room.

The following picture represents what Dana Wright coins the START Model;The-Start-Meeting-Model_11x17in_2014-07-21






This model is to be used by the very people that plan meetings (activities) and by using the “canvas” you can create a structure to make the most out of it. We will explore each zone and talk about its purpose.

  1. Before
    1. Anticipating: Like any event or activity, we want our meeting to create a sense of excitement or at the very least, that the participants will be looking forward to attending. This box should then contain any item that would help to create a sense of anticipation.
    2. Entering: This area of the canvas should contain all that contribute to making our meeting great when entering the room. For example, having water, printed workbooks and projector ready when people enter our meeting space.
    3. Know, Feel, Think: The bottom three boxes are meant to hold any information we might know or assume about our attendees. Knowing for example that the nature of the meeting is “sensitive” and that the participants will feel “stressed”. They might think about “impact on their job”, “value of meeting”, etc.
  2. During
    1. Engaging Around: In this section, we want to focus on the artifacts or objects that people attending our meeting should engage around. This could be a whiteboard, projected presentation, etc.
    2. Engaging In: Thinking about how, as a group, we come together around the topic of our meeting is important. Many times we lose track of the topic and go down a different path. Nailing down the scope of our subject is essential to prevent waste.
    3. Connecting With: This box is the “people” aspect of the meeting and making sure that we connect with the attendees. Some of our participants might have specific circumstances or situation and we might want to take special note of these.
    4. Say: Here, we want to write down what we would like people to “say” about their time spent in our meeting. What they will exchange with other people.
  3. After
    1. Leaving: This area should contain any information that we must ensure people take with them upon leaving our activity. This could be handouts or information.
    2. Extending: This particular zone concerns “homework” or actions that we need to take to further our activity after it has ended. We often forget that the lives of our meetings are not necessarily for the schedule duration and some degree to thought should be put in creating space or elements to keep the activity relevant (“fresh”).
    3. Know, Feel, Think: These three boxes serve the same purpose as the ones in the “Before” section, except that now we are focusing on what people know upon leaving our activity, how they felt about their time together and the thoughts they might have once they set foot outside the meeting room.

Conclusion, I believe this model can bring great structure and focus to any potential meeting or activity. To be effective, this model must be used iteratively to introduce new measures and elements into your meetings. Forcing yourself to plan thoughtfully and thinking about specific areas or moments are good ways to “spice up” meetings, which have lost their appeal. Give it a try and please give us some feedback. Ultimately, the purpose of putting the effort of taking a closer look at our meeting is too avoid the following:BoringOR

Cheers all. Have fun with it. 🙂

Reference: Dana Wright http://startmeetinglikethis.com/