Writing An Agenda for a Workshop0
Many people are familiar with the Time Management Matrix – a simple tool which helps to prioritise tasks, based on whether they are Urgent or Important, or both, or neither.
The general rule of thumb is to plan the bulk of your day focused working on Urgent/Important tasks, get the Urgent/Non-Important tasks out of the way as soon as possible (or at appropriate breaks), plan ahead to get Important/Not-Urgent tasks started, and leave Non-Urgent/Non-Important tasks to the side until they become either Urgent or Important.
This tool is helpful in a secondary way: in writing an agenda for a workshop or for a meeting. Most meetings internally are informally facilitated – if at all – and lots of these meetings are status meetings, meaning they’re also ‘catch-all’ events to talk about everything. As a result, the agenda is often haphazard, sometimes chronological, and rarely prioritised.
As a way to counter-balance these understandable agendas, consider using the Time Management Matrix to categorize the items into these four key areas, to determine their spot in an effective agenda.
1. Urgent + Important Items should directly link specifically to the purpose of the meeting, and should be discussed as soon as possible on the agenda. They almost always involve the key decision makers. Unless you have all the time in the world, focus on fewer items in this category than more. Or, prioritise the these items in case time is lost on discussion and debate. Also, make sure you have enough time after the presentation of each item for discussion and debate.
2: Urgent + Not Important Items are typically tasks which need responses or directives, and are often random one-off assignments. Many times, it involves someone – before this meeting, after this meeting – sending an e-mail, making a phone call, going to … er, another meeting. These tasks should be discussed at the end of the agenda, if you have time – or at the beginning of the agenda if you feel like you can cover them without debate so you can get to the #1 tasks. Or, consider if they might be managed before or immediately after the meeting and not discussed at all on the agenda.
3: Important + Not Urgent Items are long-range or long-term assignments that will – at some point – become urgent as a deadline looms. These tasks typically need someone else to comment, collaborate, or provide information, such as a person from a different department or outside the company. Many times, this person is a subject matter expert. It’s often best for the group to delegate the task (or divide into smaller tasks) to a smaller group or individual to handle, oversee and report back. When do you place them on the agenda? My experience tells me that it’s best to schedule a planning meeting – not a status meeting – to give these soon-to-be-important items the attention they deserve. (By the way, there are seven different types of meetings. Go here if you’re interested.)
4. Not Urgent + Not Important Items are long-term projects which have not yet been properly defined, are tasks which are being lobbed into your jurisdiction to handle, or (more realistically) are projects which may never happen at all. Be strict about this category: do you want to waste valuable meeting time on these, or do they deserve to be delegated to an individual to oversee until an element of the tasks changes?