Conference Notes

Notes on BOF106 Using Activities to Manage Meetings

Sasja Beerendonk and Marion Vrielink are facilitating a BOF session on Using Activities to Manage Meetings. Some notes on the discussion:

1. Meetings often drag, people ramble, people come unprepared, we have the wrong people, and there’s no insight to what’s done at the meeting. Meetings can be a waste of time.

2. For a good meeting – you need a strong agenda, and the right people. Otherwise meetings devolve into an endless discussion, and have a strong list of next actions.

3. There are different types of meetings – short, stand-up meetings for exchanging updates are often very good. Small teams on the sofa – more casual – can be productive. Client reviews – clients like to see face-to-face; sit together and talk about things.

4. What’s the purpose of a meeting? Sharing information. Status updates / exchanges. Making decisions.

5. Some people are already using Activities for managing meetings. Some people here say it is the “best part of IBM Connections.”
– can add emails, documents, and other source information to the activity hierarchy.
– a much better way than using Word documents to document what’s going on.

6. Marion is from a university. She is a project manager there. Interviewed people about the problems they faced. Common issue – meetings are not useful, too long, etc. Have started to use Activities in Connections for managing meetings.
– All minutes, comments, notes, action points, etc. can be in the Activity.
– Have a single Activity for a range of meetings. Use sections to divide up the meeting stages. This allows an easier overview of all To Do items across all meetings, and a set of decision points across all meetings. Much more coherent than using one Activity for each meeting.

7. When people move, can you reassign tasks to someone else – in bulk? No.
– But see TimeToAct for add-on tools.

8. One person noted that they have seen a cultural change in the past 1-2 years in IBM. With women taking more leadership roles at IBM, meetings are shorter, and have a clear decision at the end.

9. Can have discussions in Activites. Can shift the meeting time – people see what’s going on, discussion can be done previously. The nature of the actual meeting changes.

10. For To Dos, create one for each person. Don’t assign a To Do to multiple people (you can do it technically, but it’s not an ideal design).

11. Some design limitations:
– There are not hierarchical tasks. Trilog’s add-on tool adds these capabilities.
– The iPad app doesn’t show sections in an Activity.

12. Sasja is going to create an Activity.Next community on Greenhouse. She will send out invitations.