Top Tips to Ensure Meeting, Project Review or Away Day Success

09 June 2013 | By Catherine Wheatcroft

Chances are that your business holds strategy meetings or away days at various times in the year. These may be to launch a new product, collaborate better with external partners or solve a business problem.

There is a high probability that they can be deemed a ‘waste of time and effort’ because nothing really comes out of them or is improved. They can be deemed a necessary evil to attend or just a 'trip out of the office'. So here are some tips to ensure that they are a valuable use of everyone’s time and that after the event, improvements are made, things happen and actions are clear and followed up.

  1. Involve the whole team in the meeting to ensure the outputs are not one sided and a wider range of ideas are made available.
  2. Don’t get hung up on past mistakes, find a way forward and areas where improvements can be made.
  3. Make sure that for every lesson learnt or issue found, there is an action to rectify it, person, function or team assigned to it and accountability to make the change happen.
  4. Avoid using a member of the team to facilitate the meeting. This can cause political problems when tackling difficult issues. All members of the team should be feeding into the conversations rather than facilitating.
  5. Using an external facilitator will ensure that the right or challenging questions will be asked, because sometimes there are areas and topics that need to be forced out into the open and discussed to find a positive way forward.
  6. Don’t just circulate the outputs or actions to everyone at the end of the event and leave it there. Ensure there is a system in place of ownership and accountability to see the action is carried out.
  7. Never hold a lesson learned meeting that involves any form of blame apportion or where individual errors and mistakes are dissected in detail.
  8. For client project based work, carry out regular reviews and lesson learnt meetings to identify risks and areas for improvement before they become major problems.
  9. Ensure that all reviews look at both the rectification of mistakes and the successes to be repeated on future projects.
  10. Allow sufficient time to explore the root cause of lessons and identify the actions needed to correct them.
  11. Stick to the point and outcomes required, rather than letting the conversation wander. The aim should be to gain specific learning points that are identified and agreed.