Ahhhh meetings…The single greatest waste of your team’s time…and money.
A recent report stated the cost of poorly organised meetings in 2019 will reach $399 billion in the U.S. and $58 billion in the U.K. This is almost half a trillion dollars for these two countries alone!
If you ask us, traditional meetings exist on a scale from unorganised to unhelpful.
On one end there’s the loosey-goosey unstructured meeting where you hear more about your co-workers weekend shenanigans than the tasks at hand.
On the other end there’s the Dictator-like speech your boss delivers before ordering everyone back to their desks, ‘What was I supposed to be working on again?’
No lie, at MI we’ve spent some time perfecting our meeting style and FINALLY, we’ve mastered the process. We call it our Work in Progress (WIP) meeting. Now this nothing new. I’ve worked in agency land, clientside and tech-side throughout my career and it seems every company has their own idea of what a WIP looks like. BUT not many companies do it well!
What Is a WIP Meeting?
WIP stands for ‘Work In Progress’, a meeting style that is used to track exactly that, your work in progress.
The desired outcomes of a WIP meeting are:
Celebrate small or BIG wins from the previous week 🎉
Status update on current projects and roadblocks preventing completion
Discover what’s on for the week and who requires help on their respective projects
Rundown of key dates, events and upcoming deadlines
Team availability for the week
And quickfire question time
When Should You Host a WIP Meeting?
So long as you have ‘Work In Progress’, you should be hosting regular WIP meetings. It’s a no brainer really!
We host our WIP first thing on a Monday morning, every week for 15-30 minutes. This is what works for us, it may not work for you. We know businesses that host a WIP every morning during high-times and others with remote teams that check-in every fortnight. Some never…that’s bad…
The key here is that it remains regular. Don’t try it once, dust your hands off and go back to business as usual. Step one, create it as a reoccurring event in your calendar. It’s a must-attend or dial in for everyone on a project!
Structuring Your WIP
We’ve heard of some seriously creative ways to spice up the typical morning meeting.
Such as starting the morning with a dance party or forcing tardy staff to sing the national anthem when they arrive late. Tech developer O3 World even developed an app that sends calendar alerts and gradually dims the lights to wrap up meetings on schedule (Leave it to the tech guys to hack everything!)
My point is, the following structure is just the bare bones. You may find some parts redundant, and there’s room for finetuning. Don’t take the fun out of your meetings—just the unnecessary fluff.
There’s no better way to kick-off your day, week or month than with a celebration. Now celebrations don’t need to be stupendous, Oscar-worthy achievements. It may be something as simple as, ‘I finally fixed that broken site integration’, or ‘We hit 20,000 subscribers in our email list’.
Some weeks can feel like you’ve slaved away with no real progress. I promise if you give it some thought your week was probably made up of many small wins.
Success is a series of small wins!
We do not learn from experience alone…we learn when we reflect on the experience.
With our celebrations out of the way, it’s time to reflect on what we achieved in the past week and more importantly, what we did NOT and WHY.
This is a condensed version of our typical retrospective in which we ask:
What did you achieve?
Where are you stuck? What help do you need to remove these roadblocks?
What are the key action items that move into this week?
Chances are you encountered your fair share of frustrations or what we like to call ‘f*ck this moments’ in the week just gone—let’s not bury them deep in our consciousness. Discuss them so that next time you hit that roadblock you will be better resourced to tackle it.
3. Work In Progress
Now we’re into the guts of it. Here is where each team member will report on the week ahead. It consists of two parts.
What’s on for the week?
Who do you need help from?
Pretty straight forward hey?
You WIP Notetaker (more on this later) will plug these tasks straight into your project management tool ready for a status update during your next WIP.
HOT TIP: If you require time with a specific team member for an issue that can’t be solved in a matter of minutes get the time in their diary straight away. Don’t leave it until Friday arvo!
Time flies when you’re having fun working hard and important dates can really sneak up on you.
It’s in this section that the meeting host will detail any relevant dates for the following month or so. The more important the date, the earlier it should be on your radar!
This may include things such as upcoming campaigns, trade shows, annual leave, peak sales periods or scheduled disruptions to business as usual.
And Finally, Question Time
If you’re a bit of a political junkie you’d understand just how unproductive question time can be when everyone has something to say.
Be conscious of time in the tail-end of your meetings, but also don’t leave questions unanswered for the sake of order.
So, ‘Are we clear on our objectives for the week?’, ‘Are there any questions?’ (that can’t be answered in direct conversation)
This is the bare bones of our WIP meeting structure. Give it a go. Discover what works for you, what doesn’t and fine-tune it from there.
Finally, here are our tips to help you supercharge your morning WIP.
Personalising Your WIP to Department
The above process will work for cross-functional teams—this is how to optimise your WIP based on your department.
MARKETING / SALES
–Campaign Results –Best Channels –Sales at Present –Targets for future campaigns
We all know how easy it is for a meeting to get off track when nobody is steering the conversation. This is why you need to assign a WIP leader who can crack the WIP 😉 to ensure you’re 30-minute meeting doesn’t balloon out to 2 hours.
2. Assign a notetaker
Whether it’s direct into your project management tool or into a collaborative document—notetaking during your WIP is super important. The notetaker will collate all of the action items for the week so that nobody is overpromising and underdelivering.
3. Keep the ball rolling with monthly strategy sessions
On the first Monday of each month, we will host an extended WIP meeting which we call a Strategy Session. We will spend 1.5 to 2 hours analysing each project in detail, reassessing our priorities and optimising our roadmap for the month ahead. Time spent here is earned back with far greater efficiency and purpose in our weekly meetings.
I’m hoping to do a blog on how to structure your strategy session very soon. Hold tight!
If you’re ready to really up your WIP game we’ve specifically designed a template fit with role-specific prompts and questions to help you lead your most productive meeting yet.
Email us for access to our Master the Meeting: WIP Guide. And now, it’s over to you. Time to WIP it, WIP it good 😉
Alita Harvey-Rodriguez is known as one of Australia's leading digital marketing futurists and the brains behind Milk It Academy – A research-based training firm to advance marketers skills into new school digital leaders and company innovators. For over a decade Alita has worked with global brands including SAP, Experian, SEMrush, TS14+, Estee Lauder, Myer, Power Retail, & Online Retailer.