Tag Archives: how to run better meetings

Amnesty: A Foundation Block for Better Project Meetings & Improvement

We have often referenced the importance of “amnesty” in the realm of Continuous Improvement. If people are not comfortable talking about problems and process complexities, either out of fear of retribution or criticism, then it will be impossible to achieve a high performing culture of improvement.

One place where the freedom to share opinions, observations or ideas is critically important is in project team meetings. In support of the above-stated position regarding amnesty, a recent Harvard Business Review article shares some excellent perspective on “making your meetings safe.”

In the piece, author Paul Axtell shares an excellent example based on input from a young engineer and his supervisor Josh. This engineer worked on several project teams within a manufacturing facility. His story is as follows:

“Josh, my manager, would take everyone out for pizza when he came to the factory, and we’d have a ‘no secrets’ meeting. Josh asked us about whatever he wanted to know and we did the same in return. It was a meeting where everyone had permission to say or ask anything. It was amazing.”

The article goes on to explain how the manager, Josh, used these meetings to discover how his team was doing, how their projects were progressing, and what they needed in terms of support and resources. He asked broad questions to initiate open conversation, such as:

  • What do you think I need to know?
  • Where are you struggling?
  • What are you proud of?

This approach is well-aligned with ours. When the people closest to the work are confident that their ideas or suggestions for improvements will be honestly considered without recourse they are ideally suited for engaging in true Continuous Improvement. But without the “amnesty” to speak their mind or share their observations, the organization is doomed to live in the “status-quo.”

As Axtell put it, “The quest for better meetings ultimately lies in leading with mutual respectful, inclusivity, and establishing a space that is safe enough for people to speak their minds.”

More Meeting Woes Emerge: Teleconference Behaviors Unmasked!

In a recent post (When I Die I Hope it’s at a Meeting) we discussed some of the pitfalls associated with project team meetings or other types of meetings, all of which tend to be less-than-productive if someone isn’t diligently prepared to take charge and make things happen!

To add some perspective, many people have not only agreed with the ideas shared in that post, but also noted that the problems are much more prevalent during teleconferences. We couldn’t agree more!

As evidence, a recent Harvard Business Review article shared a list of the most common “other” things people tend to do during conference calls.


Clearly this list takes “multitasking” to a new level!

Maybe you have some ideas to share as to how you’ve been able to address these productivity-killers during your conference calls?