Wednesday 29 June 2016

How to Manage a Meeting

Managing a meeting is a very important skills.

Meetings can either be a huge drain on time and resources or a huge benefit to both those involved and the organization as a whole. If you are reluctant to attend regular scheduled meetings, or feel they are a waste of time the meeting is likely not being run effectively.

How effective a meeting is can depend upon who, and how the meeting is managed. The benefits of a well run meeting can be priceless, whether it be a short 10 min meeting or a  multi day summit, you want people to walk away from a meeting with the feeling of accomplishment and a sense of time spent.

If you are the organizer of a meeting, you are basically demanding an investment of time and knowledge from your participants, whether they are from within your organization or outside your organization there is a significant investment in cost and resources associated with holding a meeting. 
The time spent during this gathering can be an invaluable investment that will have a positive impact on your project.

I’ve attended many meetings… meetings dealing with complex issues that have brought together people from around the world with considerable investment in time and money. I’ve been fortunate to observe a number of very well organised people who are able to run a well thought out, successful meeting.

Taya Photography

Here is an amalgamation of tips and notes I’ve gathered from observing how successful meetings is organized.

Why: Firstly why are you having a meeting, is it absolutely necessary?
Consider the return on investment and what alternate options do you have to deal with the issues. If the meeting is just to inform take a look at other mediums that can be use to share the information, such as email, posting on a project forum, chat room or website. There are a number of great online platforms that allow for collaboration and sharing of documents and information where multiple people can add their thoughts and comments at their convenience.

Who: Who needs to attend?
Consider each individual's involvement on the issues and their ability to address or participate in finding solutions. Only involve those who are able to provide solutions, select people who have the ability to communicate effectively, avoid inviting people who are typically reluctant to contribute or who are dogmatic in their opinion, you want to create an environment of collaboration and solutions. 

Agenda: Have a well organised agenda that covers the topics needed to be discussed during the meeting. This means doing some preparation, find out prior to the meeting what the issues are which will define your objectives. From this you will be in a better position to invite the right people to the meeting in an effort to find the best possible solutions.

Stick to the agenda… but, don’t be afraid to veer off track to address issues that may arise. A good way to manage any "side" issues that come up  is to place them in a “cage” which can be addressed later allowing you to get back on the immediate topic. A “cage” is an area on a whiteboard or flip chart where you can list topics that need to be addressed at the end of a meeting. Before the end of a meeting these “caged” items should be assigned to an individual who can briefly give a 10 minute summary addressing exactly what the issue is and what possible solutions may be available, if no solutions are available this then becomes a action item delegating responsibility.

Meeting Summary: After the meeting, go over the objectives and outcome of the meeting, recognise people’s contributions and their participation. Summarize the challenges, solutions, plans and resolutions that have been addressed and those that require additional attention. Keep it simple, concise and brief. (something I find challenging...)

Action Items: Delegate responsibility of items that need to be addressed resulting from the meeting. You may have run a productive meeting but if there are no action items resulting from the meeting issues may not get resolved outside of the board room. Assign action items to those who are best suited to deal with the item as action items will hold people accountable.
Hope these tips help you manage your next meeting. Whether it's between two people or twenty, I have found these tips invaluable in holding a productive meeting.

Monday 27 June 2016

Keeping up with Technology

When transitioning to Building Information Modeling you will have people who resist the transition, the prospect of having to learn new software, a new process and the disruption that the transition to BIM will be their main excuses not to move forward.

Technology has had an impact on a number of industries. Design and Construction is no exception, we need to constantly adapt and keep current if we want to remain in the industry, or you’ll become obsolete like these services we all use to use.. 

Remember getting your film developed? 
Use to be exciting to go pick up your photos, going through them for the first time, seeing which ones turned out and which ones didn’t. Often seeing photos you took months ago…

Going to get a movie… for me that was an evening out!
Going to the video store to pick a movie to watch that evening was fun…. 
Look at how fast Blockbusters disappeared!

Going to the store to buy music on a Compact Disc (or cassette), browsing through the available CD’s looking at what your favorite artist had recently released. Taking it home to play on your CD player… (Alternately substitute the word Compact Disc for Vinyl Record).

There are many examples I could refer too including, Fax Machines, VCR’s, PDA’s, pay phones, newspapers, parking your car, Taxi’s, Cable TV…etc, etc…

“Industry” in general is changing and as technology advances at an ever increasing rate, so too will the Design and Construction Industry. Which means we have to adapt now! Not only adapt our software but adapt our processes and the whole culture around design collaboration and our traditional deliverables. Changing “tradition” is the challenge, I’d be quite happy eliminating printed drawings tomorrow if I could, but it’s part of our contractual obligations, even though the BIM has far greater information that the printed set of drawings ever will.

When transitioning to a new process that utilizes technology keep in mind the long term goals of efficiency, productivity, sustainability and longevity. Resist the urge to go back to the “traditional” process or only “dipping your toe in” to test the waters, you need to move forward with a detailed plan and with confidence. There will always be hurdles and bumps in the road, keep the goal in mind and don’t turn back, it’s the only way you’ll be able to achieve your goals.

You don’t need to be on the cutting edge, but you also have to be careful not to end up on the “cutting room floor”, take advantage of the technology and make it work for you, introduce aspects gradually and build upon existing skills and knowledge. Through an incremental approach you’ll be surprised at how quickly people adapt and adopt technology, pretty soon you’ll be walking your client through a Virtual Building Model. Technology will allow you to deliver a better product faster than ever before by simply utilizing Building Information Modeling and the available associated technology that is rapidly being developed.

BIM is just a tool... And tools are what we use to amplify our capabilities.