Conclude your meeting or workshop by reviewing action items and outputs such as decisions, next steps, priorities, reports, etc. Review the output, do not relive it. Before you manage your meeting parking lot (ie, Open Issues), ensure that pieces fit together to form one cohesive product. Then assign responsibility to Parking Lot items (ie, Open Issues) that remain valid and unresolved.
While meeting parking lot issues may become action items, have your group list the action items that they have already agreed to or will undertake—starting with tomorrow. List the items, clarify them, and have someone take responsibility. Assign a deadline (month, day, year) for a communications update on Open Issues.
Consider applying the RASI tool (Transform Your Responsibility Matrix Into a GANTT Chart) to convert your action items into a project plan. And remember, absence or silence is unacceptable during assignments. Therefore, do not permit making assignments to someone who is not attending the meeting, either live or virtually.
Standard Method for Managing a Meeting Parking Lot
There are various ways of describing open issues, also called a meeting parking lot, that develop during meetings. Other terms used by organizations include Issue Bin, Coffee Pot, Water Cooler, Elevator Speech, Limbo, Chestnuts, Popcorn, and our favorite, Refrigerator. (Refrigerator reflects a term used in the Middle East because the items temporarily stored there can be preserved and cooked up later). Regardless of the term you use, open issues need to be managed properly rather than left unassigned as a list of items without context or assigned next steps.
During the meeting, record open issues as they arise. Facilitate your meeting parking lot activity after you have completed closed issues and assignment of other action items. First, review each open issue. Make sure the open issue remains valid. Over the course of meetings, some open issues are no longer “open”. If so, deleted them or mark accordingly (eg, OBE = Overcome by Event, or taken care of).
Sequenced Activities for Managing a Meeting Parking Lot
Append each open issue using the following sequence:
- The issue more fully defined—a complete, coherent statement of description
- Note the single individual responsible for communicating back to the group on the status of the open issue (frequently viewed as who ‘will do’ or complete the open issue)
- Expected completion or progress update (month, day, year)
- How progress or completion will be communicated to your group of participants
- If follow-up requires a file, give the file a name so that future ‘searches’ are made easier
- Consider email size limitations, file naming conventions, and file-server security restrictions
Alternative Method for Managing a Meeting Parking Lot
A simple method for managing meeting parking lot issues is called the “2 by 4.” Meant to connote a standard piece of lumber, the method suggests a quick, three-question approach—namely:
- To: Do what ?
- By: Who and when ?
- For: What purpose or benefit ?
Obtain comments on the method used during your meeting and your own facilitator performance. Use the evaluation questionnaire described in the MG RUSH Continuous Improvement section. Alternatively, create two “plus” and “delta” columns to capture what went well and what could change to improve the next meeting. Others terms used to describe the “Plus/Delta” tool include OFI (Opportunity for Improvement), “Benefits & Concerns” (also known as the “B’s & C’s”), “Star/Delta”, and Appreciative (+) or Opportunistic (-).
Don’t ruin your career or reputation with bad meetings. Register for a class or forward this to someone who should. Taught by world-class instructors, MG RUSH professional facilitation curriculum focuses on practice. Each student thoroughly practices and rehearses tools, methods, and approaches throughout the week. While some call this immersion, we call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.
Our courses also provide an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, and 40 CDUs from IIBA, as well as 3.2 CEUs for other professions. (See individual class descriptions for details.)
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- How To Structure the Introduction to Meetings and Workshops (mgrush.com/blog)
- How to Communicate Meeting and Workshop Results (mgrush.com/blog)
- Team Charters and Project Plans (mgrush.com/blog)
- How to Facilitate an After Action Review (mgrush.com/blog)
- Five Problems with Meetings and What To Do About Them (mgrush.com/blog)
- Responsibility Matrix, Agenda Design, and Parking Lot Management (mgrush.com/blog)
- How to Facilitate Alignment (mgrush.com/blog)