The 2-Question Meeting: Cite Success, Remove Roadblocks, Finish Faster

Last week, I stumbled on an article in Forbes called, “The Four-Question Meeting: You Can’t Be Brilliant Alone.” The author cited the extraordinary cost of meetings to an organization (average per week for a 100-person company = ~$250,000) and made the case for running every potential gathering through the following filter:

  1. What is the purpose — decision, information sharing or brainstorming?
  2. What is the issue…in five words or less?
  3. Who has already weighed in and what did they have to say about it?
  4. What will surprise me in this meeting?
While I like that structure, I think the number of questions is still too long!

For our weekly standups, we’ve kept it even more simple:

  • Where did you experience success?
  • Where do you have roadblocks that we can help remove?

That’s it. We round the circle and let everyone take a shot at both questions. Sometimes there are questions or suggestions for the person reporting out, but typically this process keeps us focused and finds us finished with our time together in 30 minutes or less.

What do you think? Is two too few? Or do you say “bring on the brevity!”?

If you experiment with this idea, please let us know.

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Deb Green

I love it. Have you read Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni? He’s got a four question grid in the back of the book to be used in just a few minute round robin style.

Bottom line: Whatcha got? Whatcha need?

But, to be honest, tracking the minutia is important so the smaller projects don’t fall off. It’s always about finding a balance between important and urgent.

Peter Sperry

Having sat through entirely too many meetings where people describe their success stories week after week until they suddenly present an emergency request for additional funding to keep the project from failing; I would change these to “are you on schedule, meeting benchmarks and within budget?” and “if not, why not?”.

Corey McCarren

I’ve always liked these meetings. They force me to think critically about how my week went and what can be improved upon and at the same time are over in a breeze. They are also important for keeping in touch with teleworkers.

Carol Davison

When I was a director I sent the subject of the meeting in advance so people could attend prepared to disucss that subject. Sometimes I canceled our weekly meeting because I felt there was nothing to discusscancelling a meeting because there was nothing to disucss. I figured people had plenty of work and I didn’t need to take up their time needlessly.

Stephen Peteritas

All for quick painless meetings. This format allows a manager to do 2 essential functions quickly: praise people and push people. As long as everybody is open and honest in these meetings they will go by fast and be extremely productive.

Howard Brande

In Scrum, you hold a 15 minute daily stand-up where each team member is required to answer 3 questions:
1. What have you worked on since yesterday (or the last time we met)?
2. What are you working on today (or until we meet the next time)?
3. what are your roadblocks/impediments?

Of course there are longer planning sessions and reviews, but generally one of the core points of Scrum is that everything is timeboxed which keeps meeting focused and on point.