How to get ineffective project status meetings back on track  | The Flashcast Files

How to get ineffective project status meetings back on track 

Published Jul 03, 2019 by Vanessa Pineda

Let’s see if this sounds familiar. You’re leading or working on a multi-month project. The team conducts weekly status meetings, and suddenly, there is a lull in momentum. Everyone seems to be saying the same thing week after week, and you’re questioning if hitting your milestones will be possible.

“We’re working on it.” (You’ve heard for the last 2 weeks.)

“That issue should be resolved tomorrow.” (It’s not.)

“I’ll follow up with person X in the next few days.” (Do they?)

“This week, I’m just working on X,Y,Z again.” (Why aren’t at least X and Y done already?)

In my experience, these lulls are not caused by an incompetent team, or one that doesn’t care. It’s typically more that the project has run in to competition with other day to day priorities. Unfortunately, multi-tasking is now a way of work life, so when accountability begins to lag, how can you get your project (and these frustrating status meetings) back on track?

Flashcast helps you increase team accountability by supporting an outcome-focused approach to running meetings. Here’s how.

Define and predict success metrics

Start each meeting with Flashcast - ask a question about a success metric and have your team predict the likelihood it will happen. Take a few minutes to do this live in the meeting, or have people enter their predictions beforehand. This will ensure your goals are top of mind and can drive more actionable decisions and discussion.

For your Flashcast question(s), think about what success looks like for your project. Beyond just deadlines, what is the ideal outcome? Does it have to do with demand, customer satisfaction, or product development/deployment? Here are sample Flashcast questions depending on a few common success variables:

Demand (sales, participation)
  • Will we sell at least X units within 60 days of product launch? 
  • What percentage of employees will participate in the program within X time frame?
Operational / Project Management
  • Will we achieve Milestone B by X date? Will X features be ready for launch of version 2.0? 
  • How much above or below the estimated budget will project X be? 
  • Will project X meet Y performance metric this fiscal year? What is the likelihood of X risk occurring?
Customer Satisfaction
  • How many tickets will be filed with customer support within X time frame?

The difference between asking on Flashcast and asking people in person is that Flashcast makes everyone enter a probability (0-100% chance) for the possible answer (yes/no; multiple choice). In addition, people are asked to back up their belief with a rationale. You can then show and discuss the aggregated probability of your success metric(s) openly and honestly. 

Look for early “warning signals” 

Your team’s consensus prediction on success may not be as positive as you may have thought or been led to believe with pleasantly vague status updates. One of the big benefits in using Flashcast is that it will uncover “ground truth” conversation -- the stuff your team really thinks but might not be willing to voice up the chain. Here’s a recent example of a Flashcast from a project lead at a biopharma company we work with:

In this example, the project team wasn’t as optimistic as leadership would have expected. It was a warning sign, they learned after some probing, that certain other milestones that needed to happen were off track. The project lead began having difficult conversations: Why was the project off schedule? What resources were they missing? What issues were posing a challenge? How could they get back on track?

Track progress on your Flashcasts

You can run your Flashcast question(s) for each meeting and track how the aggregate probabilistic predictions change from month to month. Be sure you make it part of the agenda to also talk about those changes and what actions have moved the needle. Are team predictions getting more optimistic over time? Less optimistic? No change?

As your team becomes accustomed to an outcomes-based status meeting, you’ll see accountability increase organically. You can start to focus status meetings on the mission-critical tasks, and better understand the interdependent tasks that support them.

Ultimately, Flashcast connects the dots between how everyone’s work today impacts the future success of the project. And as this line-of-sight becomes clearer, it lends to status updates that are more than just, “we’re working on it.”

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