How the story goes and what can you do to make things better
You wake up, get to work and get yourself comfortable for another productive day. Maybe catch up with a colleague, do some social media or news browsing then you get in your productive mood. At least that’s what you’re thinking you’re going to do. You get an urgent meeting invitation. You hate meetings. In fact you hate wasting time out of your productive hours, period. But meetings are a special breed of time wasting activities. Everybody wants to voice their opinion, if others agree with someone they repeat what the other person has said before and most importantly it solves a problem in a really inefficient way. In short, collaboration of the most inefficient degree.
What can you do about it
1. Insist on having a clear agenda before collaboration starts.
It’s pretty obvious this should be done but most of the time people either forget or don’t think it’s important to send an agenda beforehand — “We have the main topic we need to discuss already, what’s the point of detailing everything in an e-mail before”. Well, writing an agenda ensures everybody knows when the meeting should finish and ensures there are clear answers to questions and decisions taken. Also, maybe the person thinking about scheduling a meeting, while writing the agenda down, might realize there’s not actually a need to have a meeting since people can quickly answer to an e-mail.
In meetings where people talk about UX it’s especially important to do this since the backgrounds of all parties are really different and opinions can outweigh data and facts.
Oh, and don’t join presentation meetings. Just don’t. Tell people to send you an e-mail with the content presented. No collaboration needed hence no presence needed as well.
2. If you know it’s not necessary for you to be there, explain why you won’t attend.
Most over enthusiastic, extrovert people love meetings and love to get as many people into a room to discuss. Why have they invited you? Just because it made sense to them. Do explain it to them why it doesn’t make sense for you. Why do I insist on explaining why? Because if you won’t you’ll be considered a smug prick that doesn’t like the people attending the meeting.
Working on UX, developers will be invited to join meetings to discuss UX decisions. You know your role, you like your work, and it’s definitely not listening to endless, conflicting feedback from users. Don’t attend that meeting (unless you genuinely like the discussion topics on the agenda).
3. Always end a meeting with clear agreements.
Now, you might say “I’ll just end meetings before starting by not attending in the first place”. Cool, that’s a good attitude, but remember that sometimes you want to talk face to face when offering feedback to the people involved. In any case, be very, very sure you have clear agreements from everybody. Make sure everybody understands these agreements. Why bother? Because if someone goes back to their desk and suddenly all sorts of questions and objections pop up in their head, guess what… they’ll call another meeting.
We’re in the process of launching a new collaboration tool that helps developers, testers and UX designers work much better together. Find out more about it here.
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