Accountability is one of the real pain points in meetings, perhaps especially in academic meetings, where it’s easy for assigning tasks or follow-up to get lost in the fog of the semester, or for attendees to confuse having explored an issue at length with having done something about it. And meetings don’t have to be terribly large to cause this problem–a phone call, or an impromptu encounter with a colleague, might easily count as a meeting that necessitates some follow-up.
The minutes of meetings often don’t help, either, as they dutifully record votes, and sometimes discussions, but frequently don’t indicate what the next steps are to accomplish a committee or department’s next set of tasks.
As Merlin Mann has argued, a sure-fire way to improve meetings is for meeting leaders (committee chairs, etc.) to insist on “transitive followup.” Tasks should be recorded in the active voice, and be phrased in action verbs.
Minutes.io is a new web service* that aims to help. It’s a clever template for taking notes during meetings, guiding the notetaker to characterize everything as a “todo,” “okay,” “idea,” or “info.” Each item is assigned an “owner,” which fits nicely with Mann’s approach to transitive responsibility.
Here’s a video of how it works:
This is a good example of how simple design choices about input (the key to minutes is to-dos, which belong to specific attendees) can improve many aspects of a meeting.
Do you have a trick for good meeting minutes? Have you tried Minutes.io? Let us know in comments!
*(As always, see George’s general disclaimer about web-based services. Be smart about sharing material online.)
Photo by Flickr user Matthew Oliphant / Creative Commons licensed