How Smart Meeting Practices Help You Build-Measure-Learn
Have you heard of Lean Startup Method? Are you looking for a way to help your team adapt to the rapidly-changing business environment? Whether you are a already a Lean Startup practitioner or simply interested in exploring new ideas, you can employ some team communication best practices to support an agile and sustainable business.
What is Lean Startup Method?
Lean Startup is an emerging method for developing products and growing a sustainable business. The philosophy behind this management practice is to minimize waste (time, money, energy) and focus on valued-generating practices that maximize business results.
Steve Blank explains it well in his article Why the Lean Start-Up Changes Everything, saying the method
“favors experimentation over elaborate planning, customer feedback over intuition, and iterative design over traditional ‘big design up front’ development.”
Lean Startup founder, Eric Ries, suggests entrepreneurs start with a minimum viable product, test it and get customer feedback, measure the results, and iterate the product accordingly. This process keeps repeating which he calls the ‘build-measure-learn’ cycle. It has gained popularity and adoption amongst leaders in organizations of all sizes and industries.
Though this method is originated in the Silicon Valley, you don't need to be working at a tech startup or an entrepreneurial environment to benefit from it. But to get the optimal value of the ‘build-measure-learn’ cycle and sustain a Lean Startup culture within your organization or team, you must have the appropriate communication practices to facilitate and reinforce learning and alignment.
Meetings are a critical tool for communication
Every team has meetings to share learnings, solve problem, make decisions, and identify next steps. With the Lean Startup approach, meetings become even more critical as the team is continually deciding what to ‘build’, determining what and how to ‘measure’, and making sense of the results in order to ‘learn’, which then helps them decide what to ‘build’ and on and on.
This cycle often turns quickly with many moving parts and various people engaged at different points. Staying aligned on decisions, communicating next steps and sharing learnings all contribute to an effective Lean team.
Success requires teams to learn fast and keep track
“The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else.”- Eric Ries
With Lean Startup practices, you team is constantly learning and taking actions, practically at the speed of light. Everyday your team is surfacing new learnings from customers and generating new ideas. As learnings are shared, validated (or not), and interpreted, they become the basis for evolving the strategy and next steps, whether it’s pivoting or persevering. A good follow-through system to keep your team’s decisions, key learnings or insights, and tasks organized and accessible will help your team move work forward in a streamlined manner.
What you can do:
Leverage a task management system to keep track of all your team’s tasks, including those that emerged in discussions.
Online task management tools like Wunderlist and Asana are designed to make task sharing and follow-through easier and more efficient. While each team member may have their preferred method of tracking their own to-dos, using a shared system creates efficiency and helps keep tasks from falling through the cracks.
Create a shared space to house the rich learnings and institutional knowledge.
“Knowledge scrap” is one of the biggest forms of hidden waste within a team. Shared Google docs or a tool like Evernote can be set up to keep track of information, just as you keep track of tasks.
Capture critical decisions made during a meeting and share them with key stakeholders.
Dozens if not hundreds of decisions are made every day. Some are relatively minor and have minimal effect on others. But some significantly impact the direction of the project, product or general efforts. By sending a decision recap by email or as a message in chat app like Slack, you both get the benefit of having the decision ‘on paper’ and increasing the likelihood that every team member stays in the loop.
Use a system like Meeteor, which does it all.
Meeting tools like Meeteor are designed to help your organization leverage the good thinking from your conversations. They keep track of your learnings, decisions and actions in an integrated manner so you don’t need to jump between different tools or dig through emails to access the critical knowledge of your organization.
Smart meeting practices help your team move faster
“Success can be engineered by following the right process, which means it can be learned, which means it can be taught.”- Eric Ries
In order to work efficiently, you can’t rally everyone into a big team meeting to share information or discuss the latest feedback and ideas on a regular basis. When you work smarter with lean startup principles, your meetings and team communications should be smarter too.
Adopting good meeting practices allow you to meet less frequently, with fewer people in each meeting, while maintaining (or even increasing) the team’s alignment and information transparency.
What you can do:
Leverage the process chart we created below to help identify whether a meeting is necessary before grabbing time on others’ calendar.
Thoughtfully plan for your conversation and be clear on the agenda so people know what to expect and how to prepare for an impactful conversation.
When you’re moving fast, it can feel like you don’t have time to prepare an agenda. But taking a minute to clarify the meeting’s desired outcome will help make sure that your meeting achieves results.
In combination with using the tools mentioned above to keep track of tasks, decisions and learnings, you can invite the right people to participate in the conversation.
It’s tempting to include everyone in every conversation but when you have consistent information capturing and sharing, you can confidently keep keep people informed who did not attend the meeting.
Share a meeting summary that highlights the key meeting outcomes.
When you invite fewer people, you need to be sure to inform those who weren’t there so everyone stays aligned. No one wants to read through pages of incoherent notes. Be sure to crystalize the decisions and next steps, and put them at the top of the summary.
Your Meeting Habits Drive your Team Culture
“Process drives culture, not the other way around, so you can’t just change the culture, you have to change the system.”- Eric Ries
How you meet reflects your organizational culture. When you’re dedicated to using the Lean Startup method to grow your business, great meeting practices will help you keep the momentum and sustain all the change efforts. As your business grows, the core value of how people communicate will be embedded in everyone’s Lean Startup DNA.
At Meeteor, we practice the lean principles and our team also applies many of the above practices. These help us move work forward faster and stay agile when incorporating new learnings in our product development process, marketing efforts, and other areas of business.
Join us at the 2015 Lean Startup Conference
The 2015 Lean Startup Conference, taking place November 16-19th in San Francisco, rallies Lean Startup practitioners to share ideas, best practices and co-create the future of business. Meeteor will be featured at the Startup Alley on November 17th and 18th. Visit us to learn more about how Meeteor employs meeting best practices to support Lean Startup principles or follow us on Twitter @meeteorHQ to stay updated.
Meeteor is a web app that enables you to plan a thoughtful agenda, capture notes that crystalize into decisions and next steps, and seamlessly integrate those outcomes with follow-through.