Meetings result in ‘decisions’ that imply ‘action items’. A meeting is only as productive as the decisions that are made and then correctly acted on. No follow through, no productivity.
If you called a meeting in order to arrive at decisions, then the decisions must be of importance to you. Therefore, it seems sensible that you (the meeting owner) should be responsible for ensuring that all decisions are acted on.
Success comes from planning
Like everything else, planning saves time and effort. You can either be reactionary in your efforts to follow through on action items, or you can be proactive during the meeting. Being proactive means taking the time during the meeting to develop a workable strategy.
Each decision must be associated with an action plan.
The first step in a follow-through strategy is to ensure that every decision and related action item are clearly defined. Objectives and outcomes must be perfectly clear and agreed upon.
A specific person, preferably someone present at the meeting, should be assigned responsibility for each action item. It is they who must understand the objectives and outcomes. They must know how success will be measured.
Finding out after it is too late that something has not been completed is a waste of everyone’s time. Setting up milestones as pre-arranged reporting increments is the best way to ensure that you are not the last to know when things are not going as planned.
Make it easy for a person assigned a task to get help. Discuss how to resolve problems and with whom. Make it clear that questions are preferable to failure.
A short discussion of uncertainties at the very beginning of the assignment process is a cheap way of highlighting potential sources of failure. Ask the person being assigned a task this simple question; “What might prevent you from getting this task done on time, as planned?” The answer might surprise you.
Well-run meetings are a lot of work, before and after. If a meeting is productive, it results in a lot of decisions, which each require follow-up. Do not drop the ball by running a great meeting and then leaving the final outcomes to chance.