How to go faster with the same amount of effort: a couple of thoughts about meetings and deadlines

Here’s one of my last little posts following up to our 2023 review. At the Full Members meeting at the end of 2023 I had a bit of a panick moment about the fact that I thought we were being slower than we could be.

Turning this into concrete attention points, I see two: 1) meetings, and 2) deadlines.

1 - Meetings
For meetings I sometime see us lengthening our timeline because we don’t schedule certain team meetings in advance, and then we try to find a moment that works for each and every team member. To the extent possible - which is already happening now - I would therefore suggest to schedule meetings long in advance, and to accept that it is impossible to always gather everybody around the table.

A second attention point to me is following up on the action points. Ideally every person takes responsibility for the action points they have taken on, but in practice we all have busy lives, and some things happen to fall off our to do lists. A simple hack can be to prioritise the action points (urgent and important at the top), and to post them on Edgeryders. This also makes it easier for a Team Coordinator to ensure follow up and keep an eye on the urgent and important action points.

2 - Deadlines
Around deadlines I see two different challenges:

– 2.1 Deadlines for filling in documents

Filling in documents by the deadline that was given, to me is as important as starting a meeting in time. We manage to do the latter, so it would be great if we could develop the same culture for the former.

Things we can do vary in function of what it is that needs to be done:

  • Add it to the Nextcloud calendar (orange category)

  • Send a reminder a couple of days in advance (Edgeryders or Signal)

  • Ignore the absence of a response (e.g. for scheduling a meeting, if a message was sent in the emergency chat)

Every deadline that gets prolonged slows us down, so the more we can avoid this, the better off we’ll be.

– 2.2 Deliverables

I am saying this without blame, because I am the first one to struggle with this, but what I see is that we have so many things to do that we often forget to assign clear responsibility for key tasks, and that we don’t set any deadlines for ourselves. Given how crazy things sometimes are it is of course ok if a deadline for a key deliverable needs to be postponed, but not setting one to begin with - IMHO - leads to delays that could be avoided. So this is mostly an attention point to all Team Coordinators, and maybe something to be picked up at the next Coordination Group?