Why Company Meetings are so Fatigue-Inducing? They Shouldn’t.

The proverb says:

“Hell is full of good meanings, but heaven is full of good works”

which is the same as

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions”

Good ideas don’t matter, executing and delivering is what matters. You can go all day with good ideas and end up in hell.

As human beings, we love to solve problems, they give meaning to our lives. Because of this, one of the biggest differences between good and the best designers ( Designers, UI Designers, Interaction Designer, Lord Wizard Designers — or whatever design you like — ) is to solve problems with creativity. That’s why I love the concept behind “Jobs to be Done” because it’s about solving problems and simplify the user’s life. Then you use Design Thinking to make the solution creative enough.

However, most of the teams and designers ended up burnout because of extra requirements, endless features, and unprioritized tasks. All this company chaos leads to multiple discussions and no results within the team. The best solution (from my humble point of view) is to organize all the ideas and solve the key problems without discussions, just actions. How we do this? With discipline. A lot of designers believe in “freedom” as the channel for creativity but if you want to accomplish results and be creative a the same time, you gotta be disciplined.

I have a 25 minutes design thinking exercise to kill the laziness, discussions, battling, and move forward on problem-solving. This is not written on stone but is a good start for you and your company to improve the work-flow.

What do you need:

  • Whiteboard
  • Yellow post-its
  • 2 more colors of post-its
  • 2 color dot stickers (for voting)
  • Markers
  • Timer
  • Chill Music

Total time needed:
The exercise itself usually takes between 25 minutes

Choose a leader
You need to select somebody on the team to take the role of the leader/moderator. They can join in on the process but must focus on making sure no discussion breaks out and has to keep time. Every week you can rotate the leader.

Let’s Start!

1. Start with Problems — 5 min

The first step is simple, everybody in the team sits down and without discussion, they spend 5minutes writing all the tasks, challenges, annoyances, and concerns that happened during the week. These can be anything from “I don’t feel like we’re making progress” to “I feel like feature X is getting more attention than my feature”. Really anything that is bugging us. Once the time is up, each team member will have a pile of problems in front of them.

Keep it simple and fast

2. Present the Problems — 3 min per Member

The leader now selects one person at a time to stand up at a whiteboard to very quickly explain each problem as they stick them to the surface. Nobody else in the team is allowed to speak here.

Once everyone has spoken and added their problems (work, personal, health, mood) then everyone in the group has shared their challenges without going on for 2 hours.

3. Select Problems to Solve — 5 min

The leader gives each member 2 voting dots. Every team member must vote by putting a voting dot in the task they consider to be the most pertinent to solve, without discussion.

You can vote on your problems and you can put both your votes on one challenge. Once the 5minutes are up, the leader quickly takes the voted problems and arranges them in order of priority. What about the rest of the problems that were not voted on? Do they get lost? Well, more on that later.

4. Reframe the Problems to Challenges — 5min

“How Might We”

Now, only focussing on the voted and prioritized problems. The leader is going to rewrite each one as a standardized challenge, this will help us create an array of solutions and be a little bit broader at the start.

Rephrasing the post-it in a “How Might We” format allows us to make it solvable and standardize the way the challenges are written. Here’s how that problem might be rewritten into a more general challenge:

5. Produce Solutions — 5 min

Now the top voted HMW problems will be used to produce solutions. Start from left to right and top to bottom. Now each team member is given in 7 minutes to write as many possible ways to tackle the How Might We challenge without any discussion. Removing discussion here also insures a variety of solutions. The leader needs to tell the team members here that we’re aiming for Quantity over Quality– Later we can curate.

Solutions don’t have to be written in any particular way– but they must be understandable to people reading.

Once the 5minutes are up — now everybody sticks their ideas on the other side of the whiteboard as fast as possible, this should only require one-minute.

6. Vote on Solutions and Prioritize — 5 min

Remember this? We’ve done it before right? The leader now gives each team member the other voting dots and they vote on the solutions they think would best solve the How Might We.

We did this before. Just like we did with the problems, the team now has 30 seconds to make a prioritized list of solutions — Ignore anything with less than two votes. You will now have something that looks like this:

7. Decide What to Execute on (for Team Leaders ) — 10 min

It is clear that some solutions are more popular than others to test out, but it’s important to know how much effort is required to execute the solutions. So here we use a simple effort/impact scale to determine which solutions to try ASAP, and which should be added to a to-do list, or however you store your backlog.

The team leaders should be proactive at this step and only they have the right to open up discussion. The effort, in this case, is how much effort we as a team think it will take to implement and impact is the degree to which we think it would solve our problem.

Now you have a clear overview of what which high-impact solutions could be executed on and tested very quickly (In the green sweet-spot on the top left), and which high-impact solutions will take more effort (top right). The moderator should now quickly mark all post-its in the sweet spot with a contrasting dot so we can identify them later.

8. Turn Solutions into Actionable Tasks — 5 min

The team leader now takes the “Development Spot” solutions off the E/I scale and asks the person who wrote the solution to give actionable steps toward testing the solution. When I say actionable, I mean something that could be executed on in the timeframe of 1 week or 1 sprint.

Once all these solutions are written up, your team now has actionable tasks (put them at the top of your trello board) that can be committed to for that sprint. Because they are actionable, it is easy to keep track fo the expected result.

9. Apply and Repeat.

That’s it. Try out it, make your adjustments, and let me know how it goes! Meetings shouldn’t be that long and complicated.