Each meeting presents the chance to build or strengthen relationships among participants. The review meetings are a visible indication of a commitment to quality service. Let customers and users know why these meetings happen and how they benefit the business. Invite a representative from the user or customer community to sit in on the meeting and experience it first-hand. Invite other relevant guests to the meeting, especially if they can share an important perspective on the change. Use smaller, less critical meetings as an occasion to help a staff member improve his or her facilitation skills.

Meeting Preparation

Preparation is important for all meetings, but it is absolutely essential for review meetings. The team lead especially must be prepared to maximize the efficiency and success of the meetings. Three key points to a successful meeting are outlined below.

Define Goals

Define and communicate a clear goal for the meeting to all participants and provide them with an agenda for achieving that goal. Circulate the agenda and preparation instructions well before the meeting. Include logistic information such as meeting time, duration, and location.

Define Roles

Make sure each participant has a clear role in the meeting. Each should have a specific reason to be there and a specific contribution to make. Many meetings suffer because participants are unsure why they are there or because the scope and contributions of their roles have not been examined sufficiently.

One best practice to consider using is the "odd person in" approach. This consists of inviting someone who is not at all connected with the day-to-day work to sit in on the meeting and contribute questions from an outsider's point of view. This is often quite illuminating and can make what could be a tired meeting "come alive." Because of his or her unique perspective, the "odd person in" often sees things people close to the subject do not and often asks for clarification. The former action can lead to identifying gaps that would not ordinarily be seen, and the latter can lead to enhanced communications as follow-up to the review.

A variant of this approach is to have an "odd person in" as facilitator for the meeting. Since the person has no vested interest in the discussion, his or her independent viewpoint and lack of partiality can be a big help in situations where politics or tensions are or could potentially be running high.

Avoid Pitfalls

Anticipate issues and work to diffuse them before the meeting. A few strategic meetings with individual participants before the review can sometimes improve the effectiveness of the meeting. Also, be sure to review lessons learned by previous team leads.

Meeting Facilitation

Reinforce the meeting's goal and desired outcomes throughout the meeting, especially if the meeting wanders off course or if conflict arises. Recognize and record ideas and issues that do not support the goal of the meeting, and agree to address them outside the meeting.

Thoroughly document the meeting with a minutes-taker. Have one member of the meeting record the discussion, with particular emphasis on decisions made in the meeting and any resulting action items.

Meeting Follow-Up

Circulate the minutes promptly after the meeting, and provide all participants with the opportunity to question or refine any points they wish.

Clearly define action items, their owners, and target dates of completion.