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Write stuff down

Making good group decisions is more than talking about stuff. It’s writing stuff down.

In this 4-minute video Craig explains two reasons why, and four ways how.

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi everybody, Craig Freshley here. Making good group decisions is not just talking about stuff it’s also writing the stuff down that we talked about. When we don’t write stuff down it is a big source of inefficiency and of big source of conflict.

Here’s how it’s inefficient. When we don’t write stuff down, we walk out of the meeting and invariably we are going to have different interpretations of what we agreed to. There is no single source to verify that which we agreed to, so we are going to have to have subsequent conversations about what we talked about. We’re going to have to go over the same ground again and maybe again and maybe again. Secondly, when we write stuff down it sends a message to all those who weren’t at the meeting that we had that conversation here’s what we talked about and we’re moving on. Writing stuff down is key for group efficiency.

It’s also key for conflict prevention, because when we take the effort to write stuff down and make sure we agreed to the words, we are much less likely to disagree later. When we don’t write stuff down we are going to have different interpretations of what happened. We are going to have misunderstandings, mismatched expectations, and we are going to have conflict.

When I say “write stuff down” there’s really four ways to do that. One way — my personal favorite these days — is connect the laptop to a projector, show the words on the screen, and write them in the moment. Now if you don’t want to write with everybody watching, put a lens cap on the projector while you are doing much of the writing, but when you’ve got the conclusions or the agreement ready to go you take the lens cap off and you show the group and you ask, “Have I got it right? Are these the words that represent our conversation?” Huge efficiency-maker in group meetings; writing stuff on the screen and getting-in-the-moment agreement on the words.

Second thing — a lot like that — write the words on a flip chart with a marker. It might take a little longer, it might be a little messier, no problem. That is still well worth doing.

Third way. Somebody take notes and send around the notes later. Sometimes these are called meeting minutes. It is another way to check that we all have the same understanding of what we talked about, that we have agreement on the words that represent our conversation.

Fourth way. Sometimes I’m in a meeting, were having a great conversation, we are agreeing to good things, and nobody’s writing this stuff down! I can pull out my clipboard and take personal initiative to write stuff down. In fact I am almost always taking notes in meetings. It helps me pay attention and be engaged. It helps me have a much fuller understanding of what were talking about. It helps me remember what we talked about. Not just having the notes after but the actual act of making the notes; I find really improves my memory. Not only that, later if I can’t remember what we talked about, I’ve got something to refer to. And if the group can’t remember what we talked about, at least I’ve got something to refer to.

Good group decisions is not just talking about stuff it is writing stuff down.

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