If you were asked to name one thing all organisations have in common, you may well answer ‘meetings’. You could even argue that we have way too many of them. However our focus today is on making the most of the time we spend in meetings.

There are two tools which, when used effectively, can make a big difference to the efficiency, productivity and impact of meetings. What are they? Action logs and dashboards.

Here we’ll take a look at each of them and how they can help you make the most of your meetings.

Action logs

One common issue we face when collaborating with new clients is a lack of clarity on who is going to take responsibility, for what. Fortunately this is easily fixed, and you can put the solution into practice right away. All it takes is to nominate one responsible person to write down the decisions and actions agreed at each meeting. Replacing meeting minutes with an action log can be a real boost to your productivity.

Here are three key things to record in your action logs:

  •  WHAT: Describe each agreed action in a specific, measurable and achievable manner
  • WHO: Specify the names of the people who will be accountable for each action – keeping the number of people involved to a minimum will increase ownership
  • WHEN: Make the actions realistic and time-bound and be clear that after the deadline, actions will become overdue.

At the end of each meeting, a quick recap will make sure everyone is clear on the key deliverables expected before the next gathering.

What gets measured gets done, so review progress towards each agreed action at the beginning of the next meeting. Knowing that your achievements will be reviewed at the next meeting is a great motivator.

David Allen, in his best-selling book “Getting Things Done” writes, “When a culture adopts ‘What’s the next action?’ as a standard operating query, there’s an automatic increase in energy, productivity, clarity, and focus.”

The importance of this relatively quick fix is something our clients stress again and again.

Dashboards

We believe visibility drives performance, so dashboards that make it easy to visualise key performance indicators (KPIs) are an integral part of our projects.

At the minimum, a dashboard should provide these three benefits:

1. Enable better, smarter, faster decisions and action plans

By displaying KPIs in an easy-to-understand format, a dashboard will make it easier to focus meetings on the next steps required to reach your goals.

2. Align goals for all departments

A dashboard provides all your departments with one central source of information. Reviewing the same set of numbers will help your organisation work together towards common goals.

3. Track progress and trends

By measuring the same metrics over time, a dashboard will enable you to monitor performance as well as the effectiveness of particular actions taken and their impact on bottom line results.

Using action logs and dashboards will not only supercharge your meetings but have real potential to boost your overall business performance.

Putting tools like this in place is just one of the ways we help to change the culture in our clients’ businesses, so new practices and ways of thinking prevail long after we leave.