Nobody will read your meeting minutes

shred-icon2Hello. Today, I’m resuming my stranded blogger activity. I will address the debated “meeting minutes” subject today and how they can help us in Happy Project Management. I have worked for many managers, customers, sponsors, project teams and using many flavors of methodologies, but hang on, we’ll talk about PM methodologies in a future blog.

Meeting minutes. PMI says this is push communication. There’s not a consensus about meeting minutes (layout, frequency,etc ) as long as you write them and of course, publish them. Some time ago, I used to generate extensive and detailed minutes until one day my boss called me and asked me “man, are you sure somebody is actually reading your minutes? how much feedback are you getting?” Then I realized that on weekly status meetings, even on large projects with large audiences (18 people) only 5 people replied to my emails making comments on a monthly basis, roughly 7% of total possible feedback. Why? At that particular time I was working for a large organization in an even larger company, most of the technical leaders and key members where handling an average of 8 concurrent projects besides their regular operation. That means that they were already spending at least 16 hours in project meetings. Do yo think they wanted to spend more time reading an extensive and exhausting document? Is not that they didn’t want to, it was a burden on their already over allocated agendas. I reckon I skipped reading them sometimes. Then I went through a couple of old minutes and I opened the can of worms. The most common issue was misspellings, tons of them; then I found no list of attendees, dates, agreements, action items, issues. That means that nobody was reading them, nobody was paying attention.

So, should you send scarcer, briefer, shorter minutes or with less frequency? Is that going to save 30 minutes of your time and make you a happy Project Manager? Should you say “well, nothing happened in the meeting, so, I won’t send a minute, I’ll save some time”.

No way, never. I can assure you that not writing and sending  a minute will come back and haunt you at some point. You must not stop sending them, always send them after every single meeting, call or small agreement you make. If nothing happened in the meeting, be sure to make a minute that says who attended, who did not and that really “nothing” happened on that meeting. I guarantee this will save your ass and make you a Happy Project Manager. When somebody comes back, yell at you and complain, you will be able to tell them: “Did you read the minute? You should have…” 

Nobody will read your meeting minutes, but be sure to send them.

TTYL

Becoming a blogger today, sharing happy (or unhappy?) Project Management

gantToday, I have decided to become a blogger. After 18 years of professional life, 17 of them as an IT Project Manager, I started wondering if there’s such thing as Happy Project Management. Well, I don’t know, and that’s the reason why I become a blogger. I don’t have any problems remembering successful projects, I do have problems trying to forget unsuccessful projects (I am sure we all do). But In retrospective, how many of us remember managing happy projects? I will share some of the experiences I gathered in the past years and I hope we can solve this riddle together.

Can you be a happy Project Manager? Can you manage successful, but also happy projects? Well, as a starting point, we need to separate happiness from successfulness. Successful projects have many ways to be measured; Scope, Cost, Time, Quality, Customer Satisfaction, buyback, you name it. But at the end, it’s that final feeling, that final warm words that all PMs are looking for, did your sponsor(s) come back to you and said to you “this was a great project, thank you”? I am pretty sure this happened to you many times, even if the project was not. How many times did your sponsor(s) come back to you and said to you “I was very happy during this project” and how many times you felt happy during, or after a project?

Sometime ago, I was part of a very complicated and stressing project (one of many), it burned down a previous PM and I was gracefully asked to take over. Well, I did. The whole team was stressed, working overtime, on weekends, getting calls, crazy daily 2 hour meetings, we were being called incompetent almost on a daily basis , a couple of guys from our team left, and finally; after a year, we went live and things settled down. This project made me and my fellow team members bitter. Nobody came back to the team and thanked them, nobody wanted to talk about the project or the lessons we learned, if any. We all were focused on moving on. Eventually, our customer decided to invite us to participate in a second phase and also in many more projects for an additional couple of years. It was one of the best and warmest unspoken thank-yous I have ever received. At the end, I was very happy, the team was grateful and happy and eager to participate in the following phases. You tell me, was this a happy project, was this a successful project, or both, or neither? TTYL HD