One of the best PM’s I know, the one who introduced me to RAID logs, lived by them daily. Her projects of choice were merger & acquisition projects, where she worked with the leadership of acquired and acquiring organizations to plan and implement the merge of business functions. This is really challenging work – the executives she worked with knew that not everyone at the table would have a seat at the end of the process. This meant that meetings were high stakes and there was often little incentive to cooperate.
When I asked her how she facilitated these contentious meetings and got anything done, she said “I don’t use meeting notes. I use my RAID log!” She took no meeting notes at all! The logic is simple:
- When you plan and facilitate a meeting, what are the most important things you need to do in that meeting? Identify and discuss Risks and Issues, make Decisions, and track the Action items that follow.
- What are the most important outputs of meetings, the things that must be captured in meeting minutes and acted on after the fact? Risks, Actions, Issues and Decisions.
What’s left that’s worth capturing in your notes? Not much.
Maybe the best part of this approach is that you don’t have to spend 30-60 minutes of your life after every meeting drafting minutes – or feeling guilty that you didn’t. You’ve already captured the most important part of the meeting in real-time.
I challenge you to try it! Try to run one of your regular status, governance or planning meetings using your RAID log as much as possible. Whenever there is a new Action, Issue, or Decision, share your RAID log and type it out real-time, and see how much more everyone pays attention. And see how much time you save by not having to do minutes afterward.
A quick tip here – if you are going to try to replace your meeting notes with your RAID, make it easy to find which items in your RAID log came from which meeting. Add a column in your RAID log for “Source” or “Meeting” and add the meeting name and date. That lets you quickly find all the items pertinent to a particular meeting.