Status meetings can be fun

Status meeting can be really boring. Actually they are normally a waste of image time. I have been to many long status meetings where the manager drags everyone through everyone else’s tasks, task by excruciating task. As some people say: Status is for Reporting not Meeting. 

On the other hand, as we are working as a team it is important that each member know where the team stands, so that we can work better. The sales team must know if a promised feature will be implemented or not. So when I asked the team if we can do away with the status meeting, I got a big: “No, we need it.”

I have also noticed that some people like to show how much they did, so when asked what is the status, they just go on and on about all the micro-tasks that they managed to do. It has taken me some time to reach my current thoughts (together with my coach) on how to spice up this meeting, and we are still experimenting with it, but here is my current take.

Discuss dilemmas

Explain your dilemmas, go beyond the normal “done/not done” status.

So when we talk about statuses, each member says if it is done/not done. (If it is not done, the group should have known about it already). Now we talk about one dilemma, here come the juicy part, the interesting part. The team learns from this story, how we make decisions, what challenge we have overcome, what breakthroughs we are making, and this gives a lot of insight into our processes. Remember we have no tolerance for excuses, as those don’t help at all, so the dilemmas are always about solving our challenges.

I have tried many different ways, currently this way changes the status meeting from a waste of time to priceless. How do you make your status meeting priceless?

  1. I’m torn on this.

    I’m actually a member of *several* teams at work. We’re a cross-functional organization, so you’re not only on, say, the “UI team” or the “database team” (based on your area of expertise), you’re also on one or more project teams collaborating with members of other areas of expertise.

    We work in a Scrum format, so we don’t really have “status meetings,” we have stand-up meetings. There is a stand-up meeting every morning for every team you’re on.

    What I’ve found is that if you stick to the stand-up meeting format (what you did yesterday, what you’re doing today, and what is blocking you), you can get all the information relevant to the entire group out pretty quickly. On the other hand, if everyone in both groups explains their dilemmas right there in the stand-up meeting, the meetings never end and pretty soon it’s lunch time and no work has gotten done. Further, certain dilemmas may be helpful/interesting/relevant to part of the group but not the entire group, meaning some folks are getting their time wasted.

    What we’ve adopted is more of a “breakout session” approach. Stick to the stand-up meeting format, and when you list things that are blocking you, also list your dilemmas. Folks interested in working on that dilemma and discussing the details can stay after the meeting and talk about it; folks not interested can go on their merry way. Sticking to that format gets the required information out there, lets people get more details to folks interested, and doesn’t waste anyone’s time.

    Of course, if there’s something that needs to be run over in detail (“here’s how we solved this crazy issue”) that’s a separate meeting, not part of status/stand-up. We have those on an as-needed basis.

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