4.0 out of 5 from 6 votes
How many times have you arrived at a meeting to find that nobody else has read the minutes either? It's hard to find the time, we're all busy people. Make sure that important information doesn't get lost beneath a pile of 'he said, she said'. Replacing minutes with an action log can be a real boost to your productivity.
Keeping an action log is easy. The hard part is changing your mindset. It's become ingrained in 'business culture' that we have to minute meetings.
The first thing to accept is that pages of minutes are not only laborious to read through, they are also counter productive. Information gets lost in what we think we're supposed to record.
A social event is where we get together and talk about 'how things are going.' An effective meeting is about bringing information to the table in order to make decisions.
We're usually really good at the first part but struggle to make clear decisions based on the information we have shared.
An action log takes the focus away from the information brought to the meeting and records what needs to be done once we leave.
If something is important enough to be minuted, it usually requires an action. Actions drive an organisation forward. They are what you monitor progress against.
Recording actions is easy. There are only three things you need to know:
Be specific, keep it concise, and don't abbreviate instructions. People will forget what was meant.
#3 is the most important point. Unless you set dates for the completion of tasks, you will not be able to monitor your progress.
An Action Log looks like this:
It really is that simple.
Text description of image - excel document table showing date and who present at the meeting. Main body of the table is filled with a row with four column headings (left-right) who, what, by when, done. The next row has the following text in the columns under the headings: James C, email copy of action log to all present, 3 Jan 2012, a tick.
In order for an action log to be successful, everybody needs to be clear about what they have agreed to do.
END OF MEETINGS: The Action Taker should read out each action recorded, allowing participants the chance to clarify or change what they have agreed to. An updated copy of the action log should then be e-mailed to each participant.
BEGINNING OF MEETINGS: At the beginning of every meeting, the action log should be reviewed. Any actions that have been completed successfully should be ticked as 'done'. Participants should be encouraged to help to find new solutions for anything that has not yet been completed, and a new completion date should be set.
Productivity should increase once people get into a routine of setting tasks and reporting back. Tasks that are not completed may help to highlight capacity building opportunities within your organisation.
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