There are three core portions to our tactical meetings in addition to check-ins and check-outs: (1) Checklists & Metrics, (2) Projects and (3) Triage.
Each team chooses how it would like to track meeting notes. Most teams choose to use separate tabs within a spreadsheet.
Every tactical meeting requires one person to act as a facilitator to keep the meeting on track and a second person to scribe meeting notes. The following is a basic structure for tactical meetings:
The facilitator kicks off a check-in round by providing one or two check-in questions. The check-in is used to call out distractions and get present for the meeting. It’s also an opportunity to build team connection. One person speaks at a time, without discussion.
Sample check-in questions include:
How do you arrive to this meeting?
What’s your personal weather status and why?
What are 1-2 things that have been keeping you busy since we were last together.
Checklists are used to have visibility over whether recurring actions are being done. The Facilitator reads the checklist of recurring actions. The relevant roles respond by “check” or “no check” to each item for the preceding period (e.g. the prior week).
Any circle member can request checklist items to be added the list, as long as they are for actions that have already been accepted by the role-filler as an action their role would take. In other words, checklist items may not convey new expectations on a role. If a circle member needs to add new expectations to a role, they need to propose adding an accountability via governance.
Each role assigned a metric reports on it by highlighting the latest data. It’s the Lead Link’s authority to determine which metrics are being reported on.
The Facilitator reads each project and asks: “Any updates?” The project owner either responds “no updates” or shares what’s changed since the last meeting. Clarifying questions are allowed, but no discussion. If anyone needs to discuss the project further, they are invited to wait for the Triage Issues step to add an item to the agenda.
Triage: A system used to allocate a scarce commodity such as time, energy or money.
This is the main part of the meeting, where participants triage their operational tensions. This step starts with building an agenda of tensions to process — one or two words per item, no discussion. If needed, the circle’s Secretary captures agenda items. Any participant can also add items to the agenda later.
Once the agenda is complete, the Facilitator starts going through the list. The goal is to process all the agenda items in the time allotted, therefore the time per agenda item is limited. For example, if we have 10 items on the agenda and 30 minutes left for the meeting, then we have roughly 3 min per item (or a bit less, to account for the closing round). The purpose of the meeting is not to analyze issues in depth, but to quickly triage them and get clear on what’s the next step to move forward.
There are basically 5 possible courses of action to address any agenda item. If a circle member doesn’t know what to ask the team to address his/her need, the Facilitator can offer these 5 possible pathways.
Request a Next Action. A “Next Action” is a single physical, visible activity that progresses something toward completion. The need would be addressed is someone did something.
Request an Outcome/Project. A “Project” is an outcome with a definite endpoint that requires several actions to be completed. The need would be resolved if someone agrees to work toward an outcome.
Request or Share Information. There is no immediate need for action; the agenda item owner simply needs to request or share information with the circle.
Request Help. The agenda item owner is not even sure what the issue is or what to request. In this case, they can simply request help from the circle to get clarity on their issue. The ‘tension’ needs to be identified before it can be effectively processed.·
Try to Set a New Expectation. Expectations can only be set in Governance meetings. The need would be addressed if an output was captured to bring the tension to a Governance meeting.
Also, remember several pathways may be used and/or several outputs may be recorded for any single agenda item.
The facilitator invites each person to share a closing reflection about the meeting. There is no discussion. If there is extra time at the end of the meeting, the facilitator can choose to invite a sharing of gratitude by each meeting participant in recognition of the work of someone else on the team.