Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 35

The 16 Types of Business Meetings

September 23, 2017 at 7:15 PM by Elise Keith in meeting design


For example, its not wrong to tell people they need an agenda with clear outcomes
listed for every topic. It just doesnt apply to a lot of situations. A detailed agenda for
the one-on-one with my boss? For the sales demo? For our morning huddle? Yeah, I
dont think so. For the board meeting or the requirements analysis meeting? Absolutely.

Sometimes an organization has a pervasive problem with meetings. People complain


that there are too many meetings, nothing gets done, its wasted time, its all power and
politics instead of productivityand they start to look for solutions. They find lots of
generic advice, and they find lots of this kind of drivel:

Theres no proof that organisations benefit from the endless cycle of


these charades, but they cant stop it. Were addicted.
by Simon Jenkins for the Guardian September 2017
This article is wildly popular. Over 1000 people who hate having their time wasted in
meetings paradoxically had extra time they could spend commenting here to express
their agreement and outrage over the current state of their organizations meetings.

Mr. Jenkins has clearly struck a nerve. Its the kind of pandering that drives clicks and
sells ads, which makes that a job well done for the Guardian. But its also nonsense.

Theres no proof that organizations benefit from meetings? You can only say something
like that when youre speaking too generally for anyone to know what youre talking
about. Because otherwise - did you hear that, sales teams? Theres no proof those client
meetings help your company. Go ahead and cancel them! Hospital workers, stop wasting
your time in those shift-change meetings! You should know what to do without talking to
each other so much - go heal people already! Boards? Board meetings are for losers.
Just use chat and email to manage all your governance duties.

When you get specific about the kind of meeting youre talking about, the generic
meetings waste time or you must have 5 people or less statements become
ridiculous, and people who complain about meetings in general sound like childish
whingers.

A meeting is not a meeting.

This doesnt mean that meetings in general work great and that theres no problem to
solve here. It just means that there isnt a singular meeting problem that has a simple
meeting solution.

This is a challenge for us!


At Lucid, we work to help our clients get meaningful business results from their
meetings, and to do this, we have to get specific. The coaching we provide for our
committee clients is not the same advice we give to leadership teams.

Mr. Jenkins correctly points out that when you invite 20 people to a meeting designed
for 5, it doesnt work anymore. Well, duh. His conclusion is that meetings dont work. A
more useful conclusion is that if youre going to invite 20 people, you should run a
meeting designed to work for 20 people. Thats entirely doable, but its also a very
different meeting.

In brief: the solution to a meeting problem depends on the kind of meeting.

Which raises the question: what are the different kinds of meetings out there? If it isnt
useful to provide guidelines for all meetings, is it at least possible to establish useful
guidelines for a certain type of meeting? Or do we really need to look at each and every
single meeting from first principles?

This question has driven much of our work over the past 10 years.

We found that there is a core structure underlying all successful meetings, acting
as a kind of skeleton. Every meeting needs bones, but after that, the kind of animal you
get on top of those bones can vary wildly. A fish is not a bird is not a kangaroo, despite
the fact that they all have a head and a tail.

We found that meetings work together, and that looking at individual meetings in
isolation leads to misunderstandings. Its like studying a single bee; the drones dance
doesnt make a lot of sense unless you know that there are other bees watching.
Meetings are designed to beget action that is evaluated and built upon in subsequent
meetings, and the sequence and cadence at which these meetings occur drives the
momentum of that action. Looking only at a single meeting means you miss the clues
that lead to the honey.

We work with facilitators and experts to design agendas and guidebooks for running
specific meetings. Weve seen where the structures look the same, and where they
differ. There are lots of specific ways to run a status meeting, but even though there's a
lot of variety between them, every status meeting still looks way more like every other
status meeting than it does like any strategic planning session. Mammals are more like
other mammals than any of them are like a fish.

And of course we work with clients and hear concerns about all those things that the
experts dont talk about, like how to lead a decent meeting when the group thinks
meetings arent cool, or how to prepare in advance when your goal is to wow everyone
during the meeting. We know people worry about how to walk those fine lines between
inclusiveness and efficiency, and between appropriate framing and facilitation on the one
hand, and manipulation on the other. We hear how they experience specific meetings in
the context of getting real work done, and can see how priorities shift between getting
the content right and getting people connected.
A Taxonomy for Meetings
From all of this, weve developed a taxonomy for meetings that we use to help answer
these questions:

1. Assessing Meeting Performance Maturity:


Which kind of meetings does an organization run, and which ones does it need to
know how to run well? How well does it run those meetings?
2. Meeting Design:
If I need to design a new meeting, is there a core pattern I can build on? What
factors of the design have the greatest impact on success for this kind of meeting?
3. Meeting Problem Diagnoses:
If there is a problem with a meeting, are there common requirements for that kind
of meeting that I can check first? Are there things going on in that meeting that
might work in other meetings, but are incompatible with success in this one?
4. B.S. Filter:
Is the advice Im hearing or reading relevant to the success of this meeting, or is it
meant for another sort? Or worse, is it generic B.S.?

Background Work: Forming the Hypothesis


Were not the first to propose a meeting taxonomy. If you search for types of meetings
and if you read any books on meetings, youll find many ways to break down meetings
by type. Most lists include between 4 and 6 different types; things like Issue Resolution
meetings and Decision Making meetings.

To build our taxonomy, we started with a set of 6 types and a list of all the different kind
of meetings we could think of, then tried to match them up.

This was frustrating. No matter which list we started with, we always found an example
that didnt fit within a few minutes.

For example, Google highlights this list of the 6 Types of Meetings by MeetingSift as the
definitive list. Its very similar to many of the other lists out there.

1. Status Update Meetings


2. Information Sharing Meetings
3. Decision Making Meetings
4. Problem Solving Meetings
5. Innovation Meetings
6. Team Building Meetings
So - you tell me. Which one of those does the board meeting fit into? How about the
project retrospective? The answer is that meetings like the ones that you might actually
find on your calendar can fit into several of these types.
Whenever we found a meeting that didnt fit, we set it aside and asked "why?" What is it
about that meeting which meant it should be treated differently than these others?

Because we are focused on driving tangible business results, we found we needed to get
more specific. In the end, we found that there were three major factors that impact how
to approach a meeting.

1. The Meeting Intention


2. The Meeting Format
3. The Expected Participation Profile
Our current taxonomy uses these factors to describe 16 distinct meeting types, and
gives a nod to a significant 17th that falls outside of our scope.

The Differentiators: Intention, Format and


Participation Profile
Before we dive into the specific types, lets take a look at the factors that make them
distinct in more detail.

Meeting Intention
The intention behind a meeting is most often expressed as the meetings purpose and
desired outcomes. In other words, why do people run this kind of meeting? What is it
meant to create?

There are two major outcomes for any meeting: a human connection and a work
product. We found that many attempts to categorize meetings dealt only with the work
product, which often led to bad advice.

For example, the intention of a decision making meeting is:

1. A decision (the work product) and


2. Commitment to that decision from the people in the room (a human connection
outcome)
It is very easy to run a decision making meeting that achieves 1 (a decision) but fails to
achieve 2 (commitment), and therefore will fail to deliver the expected business result.
If you have ever been in a meeting where youre discussing a decision you thought had
already been made, you know this to be true.

Our taxonomy attempts to look at both kinds of outcomes when describing the meeting
intention.
The Format
When we first started looking at meeting format, we used a standard breakdown of
formal and informal to help distinguish between the board meetings and the team
meetings, but we abandoned that pretty quickly because it didnt hold up in practice.

In practice, we found that while boards have rules that they must follow by law, and
they do, that this didnt necessarily mean that the majority of the meeting followed any
very strict structure. Many board meetings actually include lots of free-form
conversation, which is then briefly formalized to address the legal requirements.

By contrast, we would have considered an Agile teams daily stand-up meeting as an


informal meeting. Heck, we run those and I dont always wear shoes. But despite this
casual, social informality, the daily stand-up runs according to a very clear set of rules.
Every update includes just three things, each one is no longer than 2 minutes, and we
never ever ever problem solve during the meeting.

It turns out that formal and informal told us more about a participants perception of
social anxiety in a meeting than it did about the type or format of a meeting. I
experience stand-ups and interviews as informal, largely because Im in charge and am
confident of my role in these meetings. I doubt everyone I interview considers it an
informal chat, though, and imagine the stand-up may feel pretty uptight to someone
who wasnt used to it.

Instead of formal and informal, we found that the strength of the governing rituals
and rules had a clearer impact on the meetings success. By this measure, the daily
stand-up is highly ritualistic, board meetings and brainstorming sessions abide by
governing rules but not rigidly so, and initial sales calls and team meetings have very
few prescribed boundaries.

This still didnt quite explain all the variation we saw in meeting format, however. When
we looked at the project status update meeting, we realized it shared some
characteristics with the board meeting, but these project meetings arent governed by
rules and laws in the same way. And while the intention for project updates is always
the sameto share information about project work status and manage emerging
changetheres a ton of variation in how people run project status updates. Some
teams are very formal and rigid, while others are nearly structure free. This means our
governing rituals criteria didnt work here.

The format characteristic all project status update meetings do share, and that youll
also see with board meetings, is a dislike of surprises. No project manager wants to
show up to the weekly update and get surprised by how far off track the team is, or how
theyve decided to take the project in some new direction. Board members hate this too.
For these meetings, surprises are bad bad bad!

Surprises are bad for project updates, but other meetings are held expressly
for the purpose of finding something new. The innovation meeting, the get-to-know
you meeting, the problem solving meeting all hope for serendipity. Going into those
meetings, people dont know what theyll get, but they try to run the meeting to
maximize their chances of something great showing up by the time theyre done.

So, when categorizing meetings based on the meeting format, we looked at both:

The strength of governing rules or rituals


The role of serendipity and tolerance for surprise

The Expected Participation Profile


Last but not least, we felt that who was expected to be at a meeting and how they were
meant to interact had a major impact on what needed to happen for the meeting to
succeed.

The question behind these criteria is: what kind of reasonable assumptions can we make
about how well these people will work together to achieve the desired goal?

Remember: every meeting has both a human connection outcome and a work outcome.

This has many significant design impacts. For example, in meetings with group members
that know each other already, you can spend less meeting time on building connection.
We dont do introductions in the daily huddle; we assume the team handled that outside
the meeting.

In meetings where the work product is arguably far more important than the human
connection, its not always necessary for people to like one another or even remember
each others' names as long as the meeting gets them all to the desired goal efficiently.
A formal incident investigation meeting does not need the person under investigation to
know and like the people on the review board to achieve its goal.

By contrast, some meetings only go well after the team establishes mutual respect and
healthy working relationships. The design of these meetings must nurture and enhance
those relationships if they are to achieve the desired outcomes. Weekly team meetings
often fail because people run them like project status updates instead of team meetings,
focusing too heavily on content at the expense of connection, and their teams are
weaker for it.

After much slotting and wrangling, we found there were three ways our assumptions
about the people in the room influenced the meeting type.

1. The expected audience.


Here the options were:
o A known set of people all familiar with one another. Team meetings fit here.
o A group of people brought together to fit a need. Kickoffs, ideation sessions,
workshops all fit here.
o Two distinct groups, with a clear us-them or me-them dynamic, meeting in
response to an event. Interviews fit here, as do broadcast meetings and
negotiations.
2. The expected leadership and participation styles.
Every type of meeting has a default leader responsible for the meeting design;
usually the boss or manager, a facilitator, or the person who asked for the
meeting. Most also have an expected interaction style for participants that, when
encouraged, gets the best results. Some meetings are collaborative, some very
conversational, like one-on-ones, and some are very formal - almost hostile. Still
others, like the All-Hands broadcast meeting, dont require any active participation
at all.
3. The centrality of relationships.
Finally, we looked at whether the meetings success depended on the group
working well together. Nearly every meeting that teams repeat as part of their
day-to-day operations works best when team members get along, and becomes
torturous when they dont. Outside of regular team meetings, there are also
meetings designed explicitly to establish positive relationships, such as the first
introduction, interviews, and team chartering workshops. In all these cases, a
successful meeting design must take relationships into account.

Criteria We Considered and Rejected


There are lots of other factors that influence how you plan and run any given meeting,
but we felt that they didnt warrant creating a whole new type. Here are some of the
criteria that impact meeting design, but that we didnt use when defining types.

LOCATION AND RESOURCES


Face-to-face or remote, walking or sitting, sticky notes or electronics documents; theres
no question that the meeting logistics have an impact. They dont, however, change the
underlying goals or core structure for a meeting. They simply modify how you execute
on it.

CONTENT
A design workshop for creating a new logo will deal with different content than one for
developing a new country-sponsored health plan or one for creating a nuclear
submarine. At the human level, however, each of these design workshops needs to
accomplish the same thing by engaging the creative and collaborative genius of the
participants in generating innovative solutions. Similarly, project meetings in every field
look at time, progress, and budget. The content changes, but the core goals and format
do not.

GROUP SIZE
This one is like logistics. You absolutely have to change how you run a meeting with 20
people from how you led the same meeting with 5. But again, the goals, the sequence of
steps, the governing rituals - none of that changes. In general, smaller meetings are
easier to run and more successful on a day-to-day basis. But if you legitimately need 20
people involved in that decision, and sometimes you do, that is an issue of scale rather
than kind.

OPERATING CONTEXT
What comes before the meeting and whats happening in the larger ecosystem can have
a huge impact on how a team approaches a meeting. A decision-making meeting held in
times of abundance feels radically different than one you run to try and figure out how
to save a sinking ship. Even so, the underlying principles for sound decision making
remain the same. Some situations absolutely make it way harder to succeed, but they
dont, in our opinion, make it a fundamentally different kind of meeting.

The 16 (+1) Types of Meetings


Ive broken our list into three main groupings below and provided details for each type.
Then, at the end, youll find a table with all the meeting types listed for easy comparison
and a spreadsheet you can download.

Quickly, heres the list. Details are below.

We Review, Renew, Refine:


Meetings with Known Participants and Predictable Patterns
1. Team Cadence Meetings
2. Progress Updates
3. One-on-Ones
4. Action Review Meetings
5. Governance Cadence Meetings
The Right Group to Create Change:
Meetings with Participants and Patterns Assembled to Fit the Need

6. Idea Generation Meetings


7. Planning Meetings
8. Workshops
9. Problem Solving Meetings
10. Decision Making Meeting
Efforts to Evaluate and Influence: Meetings Between Us and Them

11. Information Gathering Meetings


12. Introductions
13. Issue Resolution Meetings
14. Community of Practice Meetings
15. Training Sessions
16. Broadcast Meetings

We Review, Renew, Refine:


Meetings with Known Participants and Predictable Patterns

As we do the work of our organizations, we learn. The plans we made on day one may
work out the way we expected, but maybe not. New stuff comes up and before too long
it becomes obvious that we need to adjust course.

Organizations use these type of meetings to review performance, renew team


connections, and refine their approach based on what theyve learned.

All of these meetings involve an established group of people, with perhaps the
occasional guest. Most happen at regular and predictable intervals, making up the
strategic and operational cadence of the organization.
These meetings all follow a regularized pattern; each meeting works basically like the
last one and teams know what to expect. Because the participants and the format are all
known, these meetings often require less up-front planning and less specialized
facilitation expertise to succeed.

The meeting types in this group are:

TEAM CADENCE MEETINGS


Intention

Ensure group cohesion


Drive execution
Examples

the Weekly Team Meeting


the Daily Huddle
the Shift-Change Meeting
a Regular Committee Meeting
Expected Participation Profile
These meetings are typically led by the boss or manager, but they can be effectively
led by any team member. The best results happen when everyone invited engages
collaboratively. Healthy relationships are important to meeting success.

Meeting Format
Team cadence meetings follow a regular pattern or standard agenda, which can be very
ritualistic. Team meetings should surface new information and challenges, but big
surprises are not welcome here. (Unless theyre super awesome!) These meetings are
about keeping an established team personally connected and moving towards a common
goal, and not about inspiring major change.

PROGRESS CHECKS
Intention

Maintain project momentum


Ensure mutual accountability
Examples

the Project Status Meeting


the Client Check-In
Expected Participation Profile
Project managers and account managers lead these meetings, and everyone else
participates in a fairly structured way. In many ways, these meetings are designed to
inform and reassure people that everyone else on the team is doing what they said
theyd do, or if not, to figure out what they all need to do to get back on track.
Functional relationships matter, but its not as important to the overall result that these
people enjoy each others company. Because these meetings are mostly designed to
make sure everything is still working, which matters to project success and the
organizations ability to plan, they can often be very boring for the individual
contributors who already know whats going on with their work.

Meeting Format
Project updates follow a regular pattern. Some are very strict, others less so; this varies
by the team and the kind of work they do. Surprises are entirely unwelcome. Any major
surprise will cause a meeting failure and derail the planned agenda.

ONE-ON-ONES
Intention

Career and personal development


Individual accountability
Relationship maintenance
Examples

the Manager-Employee One-on-One


a Coaching Session
a Mentorship Meeting
the Check In with an Important Stakeholder
Expected Participation Profile
These meetings involve two people with an established relationship. The quality of that
relationship is critical to success in these meetings, and leadership may alternate
between the participants based on their individual goals. While these meetings may
follow an agenda, the style is entirely conversational. In some instances, the only
distinction between a one-on-one and a plain ol conversation is the fact that the
meeting was scheduled in advance to address a specific topic.

Meeting Format
One-on-ones are the loosey goosiest meetings in this set. Experienced and dedicated
leaders will develop an approach to one-on-ones that they use often, but the intimate
nature of these meetings defies rigid structure. People tend not to enjoy surprises in
one-on-ones, but they infinitely prefer to learn surprising news in these meetings rather
than in a team or governance cadence meeting. If youre going to quit or fly to the moon
or youve just invented the cure to aging, youre way better off telling your manager
privately before you share that with the board.
ACTION REVIEWS
Intention

Learning: gain insight


Develop confidence
Generate recommendations for change
Examples

Project and Agile Retrospectives


After Action Reviews and Before Action Reviews (Military)
Pre-Surgery Meetings (Healthcare)
Win/Loss Review (Sales)
Expected Participation Profile
These meetings are led by a designated person from the team. When run well, action
reviews demand highly engaged and structured participation from everyone present.
Because action reviews are so structured, they dont require the individuals involved to
form great interpersonal relationships. They do, however, require professionalism, focus,
and strong engagement. Action reviews that happen too infrequently or too far away in
time from the action tend to become more conversational and less powerful.

Meeting Format
Action reviews are highly ritualistic; these are the kind of meetings that inspire the use
of the word ritual. The action review is a tool for continuous learning; the more
frequently these are run and the tighter the team gets, the faster they learn and
improve. Teams can and will change how they run these meetings over time based on
what theyve learned, and this avid pursuit of change for the better is itself part of the
ritual. Action reviews take surprise in stride. The whole point is to learn and then refine
future action, so while huge surprises may cause chagrin, they are embraced as lessons
and used accordingly.

Can you tell these are some of my favorite meetings?

GOVERNANCE CADENCE MEETINGS


Intention
Strategic definition and oversight
Regulatory compliance and monitoring
Relationship maintenance
Examples
Board Meetings
Quarterly Strategic Reviews
QBR (a quarterly review between a vendor and client)
Expected Participation Profile
The teams involved in governance meetings are known in advance, but dont necessarily
work together often. Nor do they need to; these arent the kind of meetings where
everyone has to be pals to get good results. These meetings are led by a chair or official
company representative, and participation is structured. This means that while there are
often times for free conversation during a governance meeting, much of the participation
falls into prescribed patterns. These are often the kind of meetings that warrant nicer
shoes.

Meeting Format
Governance cadence meetings are highly structured. When run professionally, there is
always an agenda, it is always shared in advance, and minutes get recorded.
Governance meetings are NOT the time for surprises. In fact, best practice for important
board meetings includes making sure everyone coming to that meeting gets a personal
briefing in advance (see Investigative or One-on-Ones below) to ensure no one is
surprised in the meeting. A surprise in a governance cadence meeting means someone
screwed up.

The Right Group to Create Change:


Meetings with Participants and Patterns Customized to Fit the
Need
New ideas, new plans, projects to start, problems to solve and decisions to makethese
meetings change an organizations work.
These meetings are all scheduled as needed, and include the people the organizers feel
to be best suited for achieving the meeting goals. They succeed when following a
thoughtful meeting design and regularly fail when people wing it.

Because these meetings are scheduled as needed with whomever is needed, there is a
lot more variation in format between meetings. This is the realm of participatory
engagement, decision and sense-making activities, and when the group gets larger,
trained facilitation.

The meeting types in this group are:

IDEA GENERATION
Intention

Create a whole bunch of ideas


Examples

Ad Campaign Brainstorming Session


User Story Brainstorming
Fundraiser Brainstorming
Expected Participation Profile
Idea generation meetings often include participants from an established team, but not
always. These meetings are led by a facilitator and participants contribute new ideas in a
structured way. While its always nice to meet with people you know and like,
established relationships dont necessarily improve outcomes for these meetings.
Instead, leaders who want to get the widest variety of ideas possible are better off
including participants with diverse perspectives and identities. Relationships are not
central here; ideas are.

Meeting Format
These meetings start with the presentation of a central premise or challenge, then jump
into some form of idea generation. There are loads of idea generation techniques, all of
which involve a way for participants to respond to a central challenge with as many
individual ideas as possible. Unlike workshops or problem solving meetings, the group
may not attempt to coalesce or refine their ideas in the meeting. Here, idea volume
matters more than anything else. Organizations run these meetings when they arent
sure what to do yet; the whole meeting is an entreaty to serendipity. As such, there are
few governing principles beyond the rule to never interfere with anyone elses
enthusiasm.

PLANNING MEETINGS
Intention

Create plans
Secure commitment to implementing the plans
Examples

Strategic Planning
Campaign Planning (Marketing)
Product Roadmap Planning
and so on. Every group that makes things has a planning meeting.
Expected Participation Profile
Planning meetings often involve an existing team, but also involve other people as
needed. Depending on the size and scope of the plans under development, these
meetings are led by the project owner or by an outside facilitator. Participants are
expected to actively collaborate on the work product. They may or may not have
established relationships; if not, some time needs to be spent helping people get to
know each other and understand what each of them can contribute. That said, these
meetings are about getting a job done, so relationships dont get central focus.

Meeting Format
Planning meetings vary depending on the kind of plan theyre creating, but generally
start with an explanation of the overall goal, an analysis of the current situation, and
then work through planning details. Planning meetings end with a review and
confirmation of the plan created. Planning meetings are not governed by rules nor do
they follow specific rituals; the meeting format is dictated more by the planning format
than anything else. Because planning meetings happen very early in an endeavors life
cycle, successful meetings design for serendipity. Anything you can learn during this
meeting that makes the plan better is a good thing!

WORKSHOPS
Intention

Group formation
Commitment and clarity on execution
One or more tangible results; real work product comes out of workshops
Examples

Project, Program and Product Kickoffs


Team Chartering
Design Workshops
Value Stream Mapping
Team Building workshops
Expected Participation Profile
Groups are assembled specifically for these meetings and guided by a designated
facilitator. These meetings put future work into motion, so the focus may be split equally
between the creation of a shared work product (such as a value stream map or charter
document) and team formation, since successful team relationships make all the future
work easier. Workshops take longer to run and way longer to plan and set up. Most
workshops expect participants to actively engage and collaborate in the creation of a
tangible shared result, and a lot of effort goes into planning very structured ways to
ensure that engagement. When it comes to business meetings, these are also often as
close to party days as it gets.

Meeting Format
Smaller kickoffs may follow a simple pattern and be held in the teams regular meeting
space, but many workshops take place in a special location; somewhere off site, outside,
or otherwise distinct from the normal work environment. All these meetings start with
introductions and level-setting of some kind: a group exercise, a review of the project
goals, and perhaps a motivational speech from the sponsor. Then, the team engages in
a series of exercises or activities in pursuit of the work product. Since these meetings
are long, coffee and cookies may be expected. Workshops conclude with a review of the
work product, and often a reflective exercise. That said, while the basic pattern for a
workshop is fairly standard, these are bespoke meetings that do not adhere to any
particular rituals. The people who plan and facilitate the meeting work hard to create
opportunities for serendipity; they want the team to discover things about each other
and the work that inspire and engage them.
PROBLEM SOLVING
Intention

Find a solution to a problem


Secure commitment to enact the solution
Examples

Incident Response
Strategic Issue Resolution
Major Project Change Resolution
Expected Participation Profile
These meetings involve anyone who may have information that helps the group find a
solution and anyone who will need to implement the solution. Depending on the urgency
of the situation, the meeting will be led by the person in charge (the responsible leader)
or a facilitator. Everyone present is expected to collaborate actively, answering all
questions and diligently offering assistance. Tight working relationships can help these
meetings go more easily, and participants that establish trust can put more energy into
finding solutions since they worry less about blame and personal repercussions. That
said, these meetings need the participation of the people with the best expertise, and
these people may not know each other well. When this happens, the meeting leader
should put extra effort into creating safety in the group if they want everyones best
effort.

Meeting Format
Problem solving meetings begin with a situation analysis (what happened, what
resources do we have), then a review of options. After the team discusses and selects
an option, they create an action plan. Weve all seen the shortest version of this meeting
in movies, when the police gather outside of the building full of hostages and collaborate
to create their plan. Problem solving meetings follow this basic structure, which can be
heavily ritualized in first responder and other teams devoted to quickly solving problems.
These strict governing procedures get looser when problems arent so urgent, but the
basic pattern remains. In a problem solving meeting, the ugly surprise already
happened. Now the team welcomes serendipity, hoping a brilliant solution will emerge.

DECISION MAKING
Intention

A documented decision
Commitment to act on that decision
Examples

New Hire Decision


Go/No-Go Decision
Logo Selection
Final Approval of a Standard
Expected Participation Profile
Often a decision-making meeting involves a standing team, but like problem solving
meetings, not always. These meetings may also include people who will be impacted by
the decision or have expertise to share, even if they arent directly responsible for
implementing the decision. Decision making meetings may be led by a designated
facilitator, but more often the senior leader or chair runs them. People participate in
decision making meetings as either advisers or decision makers. If the decision under
discussion is largely a formality, this participation will be highly structured. If, on the
other hand, the group is truly weighing multiple options, the participation style will be
much more collaborative. Relationships are not central to decision making meetings, but
the perceived fairness and equanimity of the discussion is. When the group behaves in a
way that makes it unsafe to voice concerns, these concerns go unaddressed which then
weakens commitment to the decision.

Meeting Format
Decision making meetings involve the consideration of options and the selection of a
final option. Unlike problem solving meetings that include a search for good options, all
that work to figure out the possible options happens before the decision making
meeting. In many cases, these meetings are largely a formality intended to finalize and
secure commitment to a decision thats already been made. Ritual is high, and surprises
unwelcome. In other situations, the group is weighing multiple options and seeking to
make a selection in the meeting. There still shouldnt be any big surprises, but theres a
whole lot more flexibility. For example, corporate leadership teams run decision-making
meetings when faced with unexpected strategic challenges. Many of these teams revert
to a structure-free conversational meeting approach; just talking it out until they reach
a decision. Unfortunately for them, teams make the best decisions when their meetings
follow a formal decision-making methodology.

Efforts to Evaluate and Influence:


Meetings Between Us and Them, with Info to Share and
Questions to Answer

These meetings are all designed to transfer information and intention from one person
or group to another. They are scheduled by the person who wants something with the
people they want to influence or get something from.

At the surface, that sounds Machiavellian, but the intention here is rarely nefarious.
Instead, these meetings often indicate a genuine interest in learning, sharing, and
finding ways to come together for mutual benefit.
Because each of these meetings involves some form of social evaluation, the format and
rituals have more to do with etiquette than regulations or work product, although this is
not always the case.

The meeting types in this group are:

INFORMATION GATHERING MEETINGS


Intention

To learn things that you can use to inform later action


Examples

Job Interviews
Project Discovery Meetings
Incident Investigations
Market Research Panels
Expected Participant Profile
These meetings are led by an interviewer. Participants include the people being
interviewed and sometimes a set of observers. Engagement in interviews may feel
conversational, but it always follows a clear question-response structure. Most
interviewers work to develop a rapport with the people theyre interviewing, since people
often share more freely with people they perceive as friendly and trustworthy. That said,
many information gathering meetings work fine without rapport, because the person
sharing information is expecting to benefit from it in the future. For example, if a doctor
asks a patient to describe their symptoms, the patient does so willingly because they
expect the doctor will use that information to make them feel better.

Meeting Format
Many interviews are governed by rules regarding privacy, non-disclosure, and discretion.
These formalities may be addressed at the beginning or end of the session. Otherwise,
there are no strong patterns for an information gathering session. Instead, people
regularly working in these meetings focus on asking better questions. Like idea
generation meetings, information gathering meetings delight in serendipity.

ISSUE RESOLUTION MEETINGS


Intention

A new agreement
Commitment to further the relationship
Examples

Support Team Escalation


Contract Negotiations and Renewals
Neighbor Dispute
Expected Participation Profile
These meetings are led by a designated negotiator or, if a neutral party isnt available,
by whomever cares about winning more. All parties are expected to engage in the
discussion, although how they engage will depend entirely on the current state of their
relationship. If the negotiation is tense, the engagement will be highly structured to
prevent any outright breakdown. If the relationship is sound, the negotiation may be
conducted in a very conversational style. Obviously, relationship quality plays a central
role in the success of a negotiation or issue resolution meeting.

Meeting Format
The format for these meetings is entirely dependent on the situation. Formal treaty
negotiations between countries follow a very structured and ritualistic format.
Negotiations between individual leaders, however, may be hashed out on the golf
course. These meetings are a dance, so while surprises may not be welcome, they are
expected.

INTRODUCTIONS
Intention

Learn about each other


Decide whether to continue the relationship
Examples

the First Meeting Between Professionals


the Sales Pitch
the Sales Demo
the First Meeting with a Potential Vendor
the Investor Pitch
Expected Participation Profile
Introduction meetings are led by the person who asked for the meeting. The person or
people invited to the meeting may also work to lead the discussion, or they may remain
largely passive; they get to engage however they see fit because theyre under no
obligation to spend any more time here than they feel necessary. People attempt to
engage conversationally in most introductions, but when the social stakes increase or
the prospect of mutual benefit is significantly imbalanced, the engagement becomes
increasingly one-sided.

Meeting Format
There are no strict rules for meetings of this type as a whole, but that doesnt make
them ad-hoc informal events. On the contrary, sales teams, company founders, and
young professionals spend many long hours working to "hone their pitch. They hope
this careful preparation will reduce the influence of luck and the chances of an unhappy
surprise. The flow of the conversation will vary depending on the situation. These
meeting can go long, get cut short, and quickly veer into tangents. Its up to the person
who asked for the meeting to ensure the conversation ends with a clear next step.

COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE GATHERINGS


Intention

Topic-focused exchange of ideas


Relationship development
Examples

The Monthly Safety Committee Meeting


The Project Managers Meetup
The Lunch-n-Learn
Expected Participation Profile
The people at these meetings volunteer to be there because theyre interested in the
topic. An organizer or chair opens the meeting and introduces any presenters.
Participants are expected to engage convivially, ask questions and engage in exercises
when appropriate, and network with each other when there isnt a presentation on.
These meetings are part social, part content, and the style is relaxed.

Meeting Format
Most of these meetings begin with mingling and light conversation. Then, the organizers
will call for the groups attention and begin the prepared part of the meeting. This could
follow a traditional agenda, as they do in a Toastmasters meeting, or it may include a
group exercise or a presentation by an invited speaker. Theres time for questions, and
then more time at the end to resume the casual conversations begun at the meeting
start. People in attendance are there to learn about the topic, but also to make
connections with others that create opportunities. Many hope for serendipity.

TRAINING SESSIONS
Intention

To transfer knowledge and skills


Examples

Client Training on a New Product


New Employee On-Boarding
Safety Training
Seminars
Expected Participation Profile
The trainer leads training sessions, and participants follow instructions. Participants may
be there by choice, or they may be required to attend training by their employer. There
is no expectation of collaboration between the trainer and the participants; these are
pure transfers of information from one group to the next.

Meeting Format
Training session formats vary widely. In the simplest form, the session involves the
trainer telling participants what they believe they need to learn, and then participants
ask questions. Instructional designers and training professionals can make training
sessions way more engaging than that.

BROADCAST MEETINGS
Intention

To share information that inspires (or prevents) action


Examples

the All-Hands Meeting


Webinars
Expected Participation Profile
Broadcast meetings are led by the meeting organizer. This person officially starts the
meeting and then either runs the presentation or introduces the presenters. People
invited to the meeting may have an opportunity to ask questions, but for the most part,
they are expected to listen attentively. While they include presentations in the same way
a Community of Practice meeting does, they do not provide an opportunity for
participants to engage in casual conversation and networking. These are not
collaborative events.

Meeting Format
Broadcast meetings start and end on time. They begin with brief introductions which are
followed by the presentation. Questions may be answered periodically, or held until the
last few minutes. Because these meetings include announcements or information
intended to inform later action, participants often receive follow-up communication: a
copy of the slides, a special offer or invitation, or in the case of an all-hands meeting, a
follow-up meeting with the manager to talk about how the big announcement impacts
their team. The people leading a broadcast meeting do not expect and do not welcome
surprises.

Back to the list of types

Frankly, I hesitated to include broadcast meetings and training as types, since both
encompasses such a broad range of experiences. Also, these meetings arent
collaborative nor generative in the way that other meetings are; they dont create new
outcomes for everyone involved. They stretch the definition of what Id consider a
meeting.

That said, I have heard people call broadcasts and training sessions meetings on
multiple occasions. The all-staff meeting is usually just announcements, but people call
it a meeting. Project folks will schedule a meeting to go over the new system with a
client, and thats basically a lightweight training session.

And if we look at meetings as a tool we use to move information through our


organizations, create connections between the people in our organizations, and drive
work momentum, broadcast meetings and training sessions certainly fit that bill (as well
see in the story below).

Table: All 16 Meeting Types in the Taxonomy of Business


Meetings
Meeting Types Intention Participation and Format

Team Cadence Ensure group cohesion Known participants

Drive execution Manager or team member led


Examples: Collaborate engagement

Relationship quality important


the Weekly Team Meeting
Regularized, often ritualized
the Daily Huddle
Surprises tolerated but not encouraged
the Shift-Change Meeting

a Regular Committee Meeting

Governance Strategic definition and oversight Known participants


Cadence
Regulatory compliance and Chair led
monitoring
Structured and collaborative engagement
Relationship maintenance
Relationship quality less important
Examples:
Strong governing rules
Board Meetings Surprises unwelcome
Quarterly Strategic Reviews

QBR (a quarterly review between a


vendor and client)

One-on-Ones Career and personal development Known participants

Individual accountability Led by either party

Relationship maintenance Conversational engagement


Examples: Relationship quality critical
Meeting Types Intention Participation and Format

Very loosely formatted


the Manager-Employee One-on-
Surprises neither welcome nor discouraged
One

a Coaching Session

a Mentorship Meeting

the Check In with an Important


Stakeholder

Progress Maintain project momentum Known participants


Checks
Ensure mutual accountability Led by a project lead
Examples: Structured engagement

Relationship quality less important


the Project Status Meeting
Structure varies by team and project
the Client Check-In
Surprises unwelcome
the Portfolio Performance Review

Action Learning: gain insight Known participants


Reviews
Develop confidence Led by a team lead

Generate recommendations for Highly structured engagement


change
Relationship quality important
Examples:
Structure varies by team and project
Project and Agile Retrospectives Meetings may be very ritualistic
After Action Reviews and Before Serendipity expected in the form of lessons learned
Action Reviews (Military)

Pre-Surgery Meetings (Healthcare)

Win/Loss Review (Sales)

Planning Create plans Participants assembled to fit need

Secure commitment to Led by a team lead


implementing the plans
Collaborative engagement
Examples:
Relationship quality less important
Strategic Planning Structure varies by team and project
Campaign Planning (Marketing) Serendipity invited
Product Roadmap Planning

Workshops Group formation Participants assembled to fit need

Commitment and clarity on Led by a facilitator


execution
Meeting Types Intention Participation and Format

One or more tangible results; real Structured collaborative engagement


work product comes out of
workshops Relationship quality less important

Examples: Bespoke meeting design

Highly planned and organized


Project, Program and Product
Kickoffs Serendipity a goal
Team Chartering

Design Workshops

Value Stream Mapping

Team Building workshops

Idea Create a whole bunch of ideas Examples: Participants assembled to fit need
Generation
Led by a facilitator or group leader
Ad Campaign Brainstorming
Session Collaborative engagement
User Story Brainstorming Relationship quality less important
Fundraiser Brainstorming Loosely structured, abides by the governing rules for brainstorming

Serendipity the point

Problem Find a solution to a problem Participants assembled to fit need


Solving
Secure commitment to enact the Led by a team leader
solution
Structured collaborative engagement
Examples:
Relationship quality important; safety in the conversation more import
relationships
Incident Response
Structured and formalized
Strategic Issue Resolution
Serendipity the point
Major Project Change Resolution

Decision A documented decision Participants assembled to fit need


Making
Commitment to act on that decision Led by a team leader, chair, or facilitator
Examples: Structured collaborative engagement

Relationship quality important; safety in the conversation more import


New Hire Decision
relationships
Go/No-Go Decision
May be formally structured or not
Logo Selection
Surprise unwelcome; everyone is expected to arrive fully prepared
Final Approval of a Standard

Issue A new agreement Participants represent different interests


Resolution
Meeting Types Intention Participation and Format

Commitment to further the Led by a negotiator or one of the parties


relationship
Civil engagement
Examples:
Relationship quality important to success
Support Team Escalation Structure depends on the situation
Contract Negotiations and Surprise unwelcome but expected
Renewals

Neighbor Dispute

Information To learn things that you can use to inform Participants represent different interests
Gathering later action Examples:
Led by an interviewer
Job Interviews Conversational engagement
Project Discovery Meetings Relationship quality less import to success; rapport matters more
Incident Investigations Governing rules for privacy, information use
Market Research Panels Question-Answer format

Serendipity welcome

Community of Topic-focused exchange of ideas Participants volunteer based on interest


Practice
Relationship development Led by an organizer
Examples: Conversational and passive engagement

Relationship quality less important


The Monthly Safety Committee
Meeting Format varies by topic and group
The Project Managers Meetup Serendipity welcome
The Lunch-n-Learn

Introductions Learn about each other Participants represent different interests

Decide whether to continue the Led by the meeting organizer


relationship
Conversational engagement OR structured engagement
Examples:
Relationship quality important; established in the meeting
the First Meeting Between Format varies by topic and group
Professionals
Serendipity welcome
the Sales Demo

the First Meeting with a Potential


Vendor

the Investor Pitch

Broadcasts To share information that inspires (or Participants invited based on role or interest
prevents) action Examples:
Meeting Types Intention Participation and Format

Led by the broadcaster


the All-Hands Meeting
Little to no participation expected
Webinars
Relationship quality unimportant

Presentation optionally followed by Q&A

Surprises unwelcome

Training To transfer knowledge and skills Examples: Participants assigned

Led by the trainer


Client Training on a New Product
Structured participation required
New Employee On-Boarding
Relationship quality unimportant
Safety Training
Varies: Presentation followed by Q&A or a series of exercises
Seminars
Surprises unwelcome

Now that youve seen the details, download this table as a spreadsheet.

Why a spreadsheet?

I expect people to use the taxonomy in one of these ways.

1. Take inventory of your organizations meetings.


Which of these do you run, and which should you run? If youre running one of
these kinds of meetings and it isnt working, what can you see here that may point
to a better way?
2. Make the taxonomy better.
At the end of the day, our list of 16 types is just as arbitrary as MeetingSifts list of
6 types. What did we miss? What doesnt work? Let us know. Comments are
welcome.

Since all models are wrong the scientist cannot obtain a "correct" one by
excessive elaboration. On the contrary following William of Occam he
should seek an economical description of natural phenomena. Just as the
ability to devise simple but evocative models is the signature of the great
scientist so overelaboration and overparameterization is often the mark
of mediocrity.
George Box in 1976 Journal of the American Statistical Association
Or, stated more economically, "All models are wrong, but some are useful." We've
tried to hit a mark that's useful in a way that simpler lists were not. We invite your
feedback to tell us how we did.
The 17th Type: BIG Meetings and Conferences
Just when you think youve really broadened your horizons and been very thoroughly
inclusive, you meet someone who sets you straight. I recently had the pleasure of
meeting Maarten Vanneste, who is also a dedicated advocate for meeting design and
the meeting design profession. It turns out that while we are using the same words,
Maarten works in a very different world where a meeting might be a multi-day
conference with dozens of sessions and a highly paid keynote speaker or 10. In that
world, meeting planners handle logistics, room reservations, lighting requirements,
branding, promotions a wealth of detail that far exceeds anything we might worry
about for even the most involved strategic planning meeting.

This is so different, why even mention it?

Because its another example of how using a generic word like meeting leads to
bad assumptions. In case it isnt clear, on Lucid when we talk about meetings and
meeting design, were talking about the 16 types of day-to-day business meetings listed
above. Professional meeting planning is a whole different kettle of fish.

How Different Types of Meetings Work Together:


A Tale of 25 Meetings
To illustrate how the different kinds of meetings work together, lets look at a typical
sequence of meetings that you might expect to see in the first year of a companys
relationship with a major new client.

This is the story of two companies: ACME, makers of awesome products, and ABC Corp,
a company that needs what ACME makes, and all the people working in these two
companies that make business flow.

Meeting 1: The Marketing Webinar (Type: Broadcast)


Sam, a manager at ABC Corp, registered for the ACME companys webinar about
their exciting new product. Sam liked what he saw, and after the webinar,
indicated that hed like a call from the sales team.

Sam likes what he saw in the webinar.

Meeting 2: The Initial Sales Call (Type: Introduction)


Peter, ACMEs inbound sales representative, calls Sam the next day. After
introducing himself, he asks Sam about ABC Corp and how ACMEs products might
work for them. Peter learns that ABC Corp is very interested, and that this could
be a big deal for ACME. He and Sam agree to set up a demonstration call with
representatives from both companies.
Peter calls Sam and they schedule a demo meeting.

Meeting 3: The Sales Team Meeting (Type: Team Cadence)


In the weekly sales meeting, Peter tells the team about the ABC Corp deal. Peters
boss Jill knows that this deal could make the teams quarter, and wants to make
sure they do their best. She and Peter schedule a time to prepare and rehearse
before the client demo.

Peter tells Jill and the sales team about the upcoming demo with Sam at ABC.

Meeting 4: Sales Demo Walk-Through (Type: Action Review)


Jill, Peter and Henri (a solutions expert from ACME) meet to prepare for the demo.
They begin by discussing everything they know about ABC Corp, about Sam, and
about the other people coming to the demo. They review the presentation they
plan to give and rehearse the demonstration, paying special attention to who will
do what, and stopping to refine their presentation with examples that relate
directly to ABC Corps business. They end the meeting with a quick recap of the
key points they want to make during the demo.

Peter, Jill and Henri prepare before the demo with Sam at ABC.

Meeting 5: The Sales Demo (Type: Introduction)


Peter and Henri meet with Sam and his boss Ellen. After brief introductions, Peter
confirms the agenda with Ellen and Sam. Then, Henri leads the demonstration,
making sure to hit the key points they prepared earlier. Ellen and Sam are
impressed, interrupting with both questions and quick comments about how the
ACME product could work in their business. At the end of the demonstration, Ellen
asks the ACME team to prepare a quote.

Peter and Henri give a demo to Sam and Ellen. Ellen is impressed and asks for a quote.

Meeting 6: The Weekly Leadership Team Meeting (Type: Team Cadence)


Jill shares the news about the potential deal with ABC Corp in the weekly
leadership meeting. For a big client like this, ACME will need to get a project team
working on customizing and installing the product if the deal comes through.
These projects can take months to complete, and the implementation team will
have to schedule the resources. The legal team knows theyll be called to help
work on the contract (there are always redlines), and finance begins to look at
how a deal like this will impact cash flow. Finally, the product team lead knows
that big clients often demand special treatment, so he begins to review the
roadmap and production schedule to see how they might work in any changes
theyll need to make.

Jill tells the CEO and the rest of the leadership team about the big ABC deal her sales team is working so
everyone can prepare.
Meeting 7: The Contract Negotiation (Type: Issue Resolution)
Peter sent an estimate and draft contract to Ellen, and shes looking for changes.
First, she wants a better price. Second, she wants a change to the product. Third,
her legal team wants additional insurance on the deal and full release of liability.
Fourth, her security team wants to conduct a security audit of ACMEs operations.

Peter goes over all the requests in his meeting with Ellen to make sure he
understands them, but hes in no position to authorize those changes. After the
meeting, he takes the requests back to Jill.

Peter discusses the contract with Ellen. Ellen wants a better contract.

Meeting 8: The Monthly Decision Making Meeting (Type: Decision Making)


ACMEs leadership team reserves time on their calendar for tackling hard decisions
each month, and this month, the ABC Corp contract is the topic. Before the
meeting, each department reviews how they could respond to the ABC contract
with its special demands, and comes prepared to discuss the options. Even though
everyone comes prepared, the discussion still runs a full two hours as they debate
the relative risks and opportunity in this contract. When theyre done, they are
agreed on how theyll respond in the next round of contract negotiations, and on
how much farther beyond that theyll go to win the deal.

The leadership team meets to decide how to respond to Ellen's contract demands. And they do!

Several more negotiation meetings and a security review later, and the deal is
signed!

Meeting 9: The Sales Handoff (Type: Introduction)


Now that the contract is signed, its time to get the project team involved. Peter
arranges a meeting between Ellen and Sam and the customer team from ACME:
Gary the project manager, Henri the solutions analyst, and Esme the account
manager. Going forward, Gary, Henri and Esme will handle all the communication
with Sam from ABC Corp. Before the meeting ends, the ACME team schedules a
trip to visit ABC Corp the following week.

Peter introduces Sam and Ellen to the ACME team: Gary, Henri, and Esme.

Meeting 10: The Sales Win/Loss Review (Type: Action Review)


Every two weeks, the ACME sales team reviews all the deals that closed and try to
identify why they either lost or won the deal. When they find something that
worked well, they plan to test it on other deals that havent yet closed, and if it
works well there too, theyll make that part of their standard sales approach. They
also try to identify mistakes they made that either lost them the deal, or in cases
like ABC corp, made the deal more complicated and risky than theyd like. The
whole team then reviews the deals theyre working to make sure they arent
repeating those same mistakes.
Jill, Peter and the sales review the lessons they learned closing the ABC deal.

Meeting 11: The Onsite Discovery Meeting (Type: Information Gathering)


The ACME team, Gary, Henri and Esme, arrive for a day at ABC Corp. Sam greets
them, and gives them a tour of the main office. They will spend the morning giving
a short demo and project overview to ABCs leadership team. Then, in the
afternoon, theyll meet with the people on Sams team who will be using ACMEs
product at ABC and handling the set up work on their side. Esme focuses on
learning names and getting to know people. Gary connects with Sams project lead
and starts working on the project timeline to incorporate any important dates from
the ABC calendar. Henri asks everyone questions about how they work, the
problems they run into on a day-to-day basis, and how they think the ACME
product will help them. Its a long exhausting day, and the team comes away with
a ton of new information that they discuss on the trip back.

Sam escorts Gary, Henri, and Esme through a day of discovery meetings at ABC Corp.

Meeting 12: Project Planning (Type: Planning)


Back at ACME, Henri, Esme, and Gary meet with the product deployment and
customization team. Esme starts by quickly sharing a bit about what ABC Corp
does and their goals. Then, Henri talks about the customers requirements: what
they need, the special challenges they face, and anything that will have to be
customized. After that, Gary shares the high-level project constraints, including
how much time and budget the team gets to work with.

With the background set, everyone works together to draft the project plan.
People from the implementation team suggest ways they can easily handle some
requirements, and identify items that will require extra time and creativity. They
begin a list of issues to solve and one of risks to manage. Starting from the
desired end date and working backwards, they work together to build out a draft
timeline that shows the critical path, times when theyll need committed resources
from ABC, and places where they just arent sure yet what theyll find. When they
feel they understand how the project will go as best they can, they review their
draft plan and assign action items. Gary will work on the project timeline,
matching their draft plan with available resources and factoring in holidays. Henri
will contact Sam to go over questions from the implementation team, and Esme
will schedule the kickoff meeting with the client team.

Gary, Henri, and Esme meet with the implementation team members to draft a project plan.

Meeting 13: Project Kickoff (Type: Workshop)


The ACME team finished the project plan and now its time to get started. The
kickoff meeting marks the official beginning of the project. Esme has facilitation
experience, so shes guiding this initial meeting between the ACME implementation
team and the people theyll be working with at ABC. After a quick round of
introductions, Sam and Ellen share a presentation about how important this
project is for ABC and how it will make life better for everyone when its done.
Then, Ellen leaves the group to work through the rest of the meeting without her,
promising to return at the end to answer any questions that come up.

Next, both teams dig into the details. They go over the project plan ACME created
and suggest changes. They establish performance goals for how they expect to
use the product, making it clear what a successful implementation will look like.
They talk about how theyll communicate during the project and schedule a series
of project update meetings. They take breaks and get to know each other, and
share cookies. Then they get serious and talk about what might go wrong, and
outline what they can do now to increase their odds of success.

At the end, Ellen rejoins them and the group shares their updated project plan
with her. They explain changes they made and concerns they still have, and ask a
few questions. Finally, they go over exactly who does what next, and set clear
expectations about how and when everyone will see progress. With the kickoff
complete, they all adjourn to the local pub to relax and continue getting
acquainted.

Esme and Ellen lead team members from both companies through the project kickoff

Meeting 14: The ACME All Projects Update (Type: Progress Check)
Work is underway, and once per week Gary and the other project managers meet
with the implementation team to review progress. Since the implementation team
works on several projects at once, a problem with one project can impact progress
across several others. To keep these meetings focused and efficient, and to help
everyone visualize how all the pieces interact, the group meets in a room with a
full wall devoted to charting project activity. People move tasks around on the wall
to show progress, and mark new risks or issues with red dots. In less than 30
minutes, the group creates an updated status dashboard that anyone in the
company can now review when they walk by.

Happily for Gary, the ABC project is right on schedule. For now.

Gary, the other ACME PMs, and the ACME implementation team discuss project progress every week.

Meeting 15: The ABC Project Update (Type: Progress Check)


Every two weeks, Gary and the implementation team from ACME meet with Sam
and his team at ABC. They discuss whats been done, and confirm the plans for
the coming two weeks. They also talk through any questions that have come up
since they last met. Gary leads the meeting, and this week he expects it to be
pretty routine. But then Sam speaks up: theres been a change. The ABC board
decided to replace the CEO and Sams group is getting re-organized. Ellen is gone.
Sam isnt sure if hell still be involved in the project, or if his team will even still
exist once the dust settles. For now, everything at ABC is on hold.

Surprise, Gary! Gary hates surprises.


Sam tells Gary there's been a major shake-up at ABC, and the project is on hold. Oh no! What will Gary
do?

Meeting 16: Garys meets with his boss (Type: One-on-One)


Gary is freaking out, and schedules a meeting with his boss Belinda. He knows
how important this project is to ACME, and he knows that the contract says they
cant send the final invoice until the work is complete. He doesnt know how to
complete the project, though, and had no idea what to tell the rest of the team.
Should they stop work? Should they renegotiate the contract? Should they
continue and hope it all works out?

Belinda cant answer those questions, but she helps Gary relax and promises to
get a team together who can give him the guidance he needs.

Gary meets one-on-one with his boss Belinda, and they make a plan.

Meeting 17: What do we do with the ABC project? (Type: Problem Solving)
Belinda, Gary, and several people from the leadership team meet to figure out
how to handle this upset to the ABC project. A representative of the finance team
talks about how a major delay will impact the company, and the implementation
lead offers several suggestions for how they might rearrange the schedule and
team members to handle a delay. While no one wants to be whipped around by
these problems that arent their fault, the CEO is very clear that maintaining a
positive relationship with the ABC people (whoever that turns out to be) is the
highest priority. ACME wants this to be a profitable long-term relationship, so they
cant let a hiccup in the launch derail that. By the meetings end, they decide to
continue work, completing everything they can do without ABCs help. Then, if the
ABC situation doesnt resolve within the next two weeks, theyll put a hold on the
project. Gary leaves with clear instructions, and everyone understands how theyll
handle the situation in their departments.

Belinda, Gary, and the leadership team meet find a solution to the problems with the ABC project.

Meeting 18. The ABC Project Reset (Type: Issue Resolution)


The shake-up at ABC corp took more than two weeks. In the end, Sam and his
team stayed on the project. Hurrah! But because of the delay, ACME stopped work
and reassigned the implementation team to other projects. The new (interim) CEO
at ABC doesnt care about ACMEs resource challenges; she just wants the project
shipped and shipped on time. Sams in a tricky spot and Garys in a tricky spot.
Gary enlists Esmes help: as the account manager, she has negotiating options
Gary doesnt have, and perhaps together they can figure something out that helps
Sam with the ABC CEO and doesnt hurt the ACME team too badly.

When Gary, Esme, and Sam meet, they each share their constraints and goals,
then focus on those places where they seem to be at an impasse. 90 minutes of
back and forth, and they reach a deal. The project deadline will move out 2 weeks
because of the delay at ABC, but in recompense for the missed deadline, ACME will
provide 4 additional training sessions at no charge for all the people at ABC that
were just reassigned and need to be brought up to speed. Its not perfect, but it
works and the project gets back on track.

Esme and Gary meet with Sam to negotiate how they'll finish the project.

Meeting 19. ACME Product Training (Type: Training)


The project is nearly complete! Its time to get the ABC people familiar with the
new system and ready to put it to use. ACME product trainers run ABC employees
through multiple training sessions. When an ABC employee asks a question, the
trainer writes it down to share with the implementation and product teams.
Sometimes these questions are easy to answer, but other times they reveal that
something isnt quite right in the product setup, or that one of the product
features doesnt work as expected. While the main goal of the training session is
to educate the ABC employees, ACME trainers seize every chance they get to learn
something that will help improve ACME products in the future.

ACME trainers teach the ABC team how to use the product.

Meeting 20: The Green Light Meeting (Type: Decision Making)


What was supposed to be a 45 day project turned into an 87 day project, but now
its done. The product is installed, its been tested, the training is complete: its
time to go live.

Gary, Esme and the ACME team, along with Sam and the ABC team, meet with the
ABC leadership group. They present their progress, sharing slides with graphs of
tasks complete and milestones met. The leadership team asks questions along the
way, making sure they understand the implications of the upcoming product
launch. When everyone is satisfied, they turn to the CEO who is the decision
maker in this meeting.

The launch is approved, and the new system goes live.

Gary, Esme, Sam and their teams ask the new ABC CEO to approve the project. She does!

Meeting 21: Project Retrospective (Type: Action Review)


The ACME teams run regular after-action reviews throughout their projects, and
then one larger retrospective after the final launch. For this one, theyve reserved
the whole afternoon. Everyone involved in the ABC project, from Peter on the
initial sales call to the trainers who ran the last training session, all participate.
This is a lot of people covering a lot of content, so they bring in a facilitator who
wasnt involved in the project to lead the meeting.

Everyone agrees that, for the most part, this was a successful project. The client is
happy, the product works well, and they made money. Still, there are lessons to
learn. Peter and Henri realize that they saw signs that the situation at ABC wasnt
stable in those first few conversations, but they were so eager to win the client
that they dismissed them. In the future, theyll know to pay attention more
closely. Gary and the implementation team discovered ways they could keep the
project running even when the client isnt responding, and theyll build that into
their next project plan. At the end of the meeting, the group walks away with a
dozen key lessons and ideas for experiments they can try to make future projects
even better.

The ACME team meets to discuss what they learned from the ABC project.

Meeting 22: The Board Meeting (Type: Governance Cadence)


The success and challenges of the ABC deal are a topic of discussion at the
quarterly board meeting. The CEO sees the success of the project as an indication
that ACME is ready to pursue more big clients in ABCs industry, which would be a
significant strategic shift for the company. After much discussion, the board
recommends investing a trial amount of marketing money to target the new
market, and several board members agree to reach out to their networks to find
people who might be able to help the ACME team navigate this new space.

The ACME CEO talks about the ABC project with the ACME Board, and gets approval to pursue a new
market.

Meeting 23: The Quarterly Business Review (Type: Governance Cadence)


Sam and Esme meet to talk about how the first 3 months with ACMEs product
have gone. After they spend a few minutes catching up about their kids and the
weather, Esme brings up a presentation shes prepared. It shows charts and
graphs of how ABCs product usage compares to the goals they defined before the
project began. She also shows a list of the issues ABC employees have reported,
and how quickly each was resolved. While not perfect, the results are better than
Sam actually expected them to be. More importantly, the new CEO is happy, and
thats a huge relief for Sam. Esme and Sam spend a few minutes talking through
one outstanding issue the teams are still working through, then define new
performance goals for the coming quarter. The meeting goes so well, Esme asks if
Sam would be willing to provide a case study for ACMEs marketing team. Sam
agrees.

Esme reviews how the product is working out for the ABC team with Sam in the Quarterly Business
Review.

Meeting 24: The Case Study Interview (Type: Information Gathering)


The day after meeting with Esme, Sam gets a call from ACMEs marketing team.
Together they spend 20 minutes talking about Sams experience. The marketing
rep asks: how did you hear about us? What problem were you trying to solve?
What else did you consider before deciding to go with ACME? and a host of similar
questions. Of course, the call is recorded. At the end, the marketing rep thanks
Sam for his time and promises to send a copy of the case study for him to review
before its published.
This case study becomes a central piece of content in the new marketing campaign
approved earlier by ACMEs board.

The ACME marketing team interviews Sam about his experience with their products for a case study.

Meeting 25: Contract Renewal (Type: Negotiation/Issue Resolution)


One year later and its time to renew ABCs contract. The working relationship
between the two companies remains strong, so theres little doubt that ABC will
renew. Esme expects to work with Sam again on this contract, but Sam has news.
ABC has just hired a new head of procurement, and she has lots of questions for
Esme before they sign anything. Esme shoots the leadership team a heads-up,
and settles in for a challenging meeting.

Sam tells Esme she'll need to renew the contract with the new head of procurement. Esme gets ready.