Status meetings are a waste of time and money

async-decisions collaboration favorite

How would you feel if you had to regularly expense $1200 so you could “tell a few teammates something”. Think that would go over well? (Jason Fried)

Last Monday I presented on Asynchronous Decision Making at the (excellent) FOSS Backstage Micro Summit in Berlin and there were some questions about me saying that status meetings are a waste of time.

My opinion on status meetings hasn't changed in a long time and I'm very happy to see Jason Fried loudly confirm it in his status meetings are the scourge post.

If your team shape allows you to run status meetings, you should first reflect on their actual cost. And if you still want to run them after that I suggest:

  • Requiring people to briefly report their status in writing before the meeting, asynchronously
  • Requiring people to read other people’s status before the meeting, asynchronously
  • Choosing a maximum of 3 items to discuss in your meeting, based on those reports, and timebox those topics during the meeting
  • If you don't get enough items to deserve interrupting your whole team right now: cancel that meeting! Or maybe limit it to managers to avoid interrupting the Makers.

That's just the essentials, Jason Fried has more detailed suggestions in a similar spirit, make sure to read his post!

I like the 3P format for brief written status reports:

  • Progress: what concrete, measurable progress has been made since last report
  • Problems: what's blocking you from progressing
  • Perspectives: what are your plans for the next period

If this post (and Jason's) help you save tons of money by eliminating useless meetings, feel free to make a donation to a good cause ;-)