The Meetingless Project?

Meetings! We all hate them. Sometimes they are necessary. But what if you could minimize the number of meetings (and in particular status meetings) necessary to keep a project moving in the right direction. When I’m running a project, especially one with tight time-lines, I’m used to running daily (quick) “stand up” meetings in which each participant gives a quick status of what they’re working on; what they accomplished the previous day; what they plan to work on today and what challenges or problems they are facing.

For a development project I’ve been working on for the past few months (“Agora” – more on that soon), we have largely abandoned this “stand up” style and moved all of this daily status sharing into Google Wave. This was partially necessitated by the fact that the developers and designers we have working on this project are in a few different physical locations, but the results have been surprising.

I was sceptical at first that Wave would be a rich enough environment, but it has really enabled a kind of rich collaboration that.

Developers can post screenshots of UI mockups or code samples or error codes and then generate discussion and get feedback on these. Commenting on the Wave enables people to talk about priorities. And as some of our developers are not native english speakers, using the Wave combined with web translation has enabled them to converse more easily and clearly than via voice or real-time chat.

I approached this with an attitude of “Wave must be good for something” and I can honestly say I am a convert. It has really shown its strength in helping to manage a distributed small-team development project. And while it hasn’t eliminated the need for meetings, it has certainly reduced their frequency, and (I think) boosted productivity.

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2 Comments on “The Meetingless Project?

  1. It’s another tool in the chest but is it better than other collaboration spaces? The poor UI, slow performance and it’s inability to provide workable mobile access all count against it. Its separation from the other shared spaces also seems to lead to those being underused.

  2. There are status/progress update meetings and then there are working meetings. In the former, I can see the need for ample representation from all the stakeholders (development, test, product management, marketing). In the latter, I would think it is a smaller group working on problem solving in specific areas of the project. I realize there is a need and there are benefits in peer review but those would tend to be closer to status/progress update meetings than working meetings to address specific segments of the project. And for each type of meeting, there are specific approaches as well as tools that enhance productivity.

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