Standardizing Your Company – Part 8: Getting Things Done with Limited Time

In last week’s post we talked about the power of The List and how it can be used to ensure that you make progress in every meeting.  That’s great, but even with that tool there is still a ton to do.  How do you get it all done if you’re committee only meets once a month?  For that matter, how often should you meet?  Answers after the jump.

Here are some tips for getting more out of your committee:

  • Meeting Frequency – In my opinion, the best meeting frequency is monthly.  Anything more frequent is unreasonable and you will have a difficult time getting good attendance.  After all, you committee members still have their real jobs to do.  More than a month between meetings is too much time and it can be difficult to re-build that head of steam.
  • Consistent Meeting Day – Another suggestion is to make the meeting day consistent so that everyone knows when it is, even if they missed the meeting invitation.  Something like 1st Wednesday of the month.  Stick to that commitment every month and don’t move the day around if at all possible.  Attendance is a challenge so you want to give folks as few excuses as possible for not being there.
  • Meet During Lunch – Have meetings during lunch and provide food.  Food is cheap compared to time out of production and it will increase attendance dramatically.  A recommended meeting time is 11:30 – 1:30.  It gives you a two hour meeting but only carves out 30 minutes on either side of lunch…time that is often unproductive anyway.
  • Attendance Policy – Speaking of attendance…have a standing rule that the show goes on regardless of attendance and stick to it.  Announce in the first meeting that this rule will be committee policy and will apply to everyone.  NEVER cancel a meeting due to poor attendance.  Keep pushing forward and making decisions.  The habitual absentees will get the message quickly if decisions are made in their absence.  Don’t revisit a topic because a “key” person wasn’t there, and has graciously shown up the following month.  If it really is a key person, handle their input offline.
  • Assign Homework – As stated in the opening paragraph, there is much to do.  Don’t limit your committee to two hours per month to get it all done.  Assign homework and get things done between meetings.  For example, to arrive at unified symbol standards, you will need to compile the symbols that are being used around the company and arrange them in some sort of matrix so that the group can make selections efficiently.  Have your committee members submit their dept’s symbols between meetings, rather than dumping them all on the table at the next meeting.  This will give them time to get it done, time for you to hound the ones who haven’t turned anything in, and time for you to make that pretty matrix.  This all happens in the time between meetings and will allow you to hit the ground running at the next meeting.
  • What’s Done is Done – When the committee has deemed a List item complete, don’t go back when someone thinks of that “one more thing” you need to talk about.  The group needs to keep its momentum.  Agree to get it on the next pass through the List or, if it is a critical item, handle it offline.

That’s it for this week.  Next week we’ll look at the CAD Manager’s (official or not) role in guiding the committee and getting it to make good, sound decisions.

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