Turning your weekly meetings into highly Agile, participatory meetings with Klaxoon
The lockdowns of March 2020 have forced very many organizations to further increase the share of information technology in their work processes. Remote synchronous weekly meetings are a case in point.
But doing so is no easy task. On the one hand, you need to get everybody together online at the same time, and on the other, you have to make a greater effort than usual to understand the needs of your team members. Which is a precondition for good teamwork between managers and workers, wherever they work, at the office or from home.
Agile methods have been designed to solve issues like these. But still, how do you apply them to situations involving more and more home-based workers? Christelle, an Agile Coach at Allianz, did so by turning to Klaxoon Board. The qualitative improvement of their weekly meetings was way beyond her expectations.
How Christelle, an Agile Coach at Allianz, transformed her company’s weekly meetings
Since 2018, Christelle Shan has been an Agile Coach at Allianz, where she works in a unit called Department for Business Transformation (DBT). Her job is to help Scrum Masters, Product Owners and their teams incorporate Agile methods into their workflow.
● 116 members (mainly project managers and consultants),
● 14 Agile Coaches (including Christelle),
● and holds meetings with 20 to 30 participants on average, but sometimes up to 60.
So Christelle gets professionals from different sectors and different work cultures, some young and others not so much anymore, to all adopt and master Agile methods.
Christelle had a dream… of how she wanted their weekly meetings to become
DBT had what they called their ‘half-time’, a weekly 30-minute meeting during which most of the talk was done by management. Everybody used to gather in one room, all standing, with management handing down information to the employees.
The meetings were typically pretty crowded too and, for Christelle, had many other shortcomings like:
● they were too long,
● they were mainly top-down, with hierarchy passing on information and employees reduced to spectators who hardly ever said a thing,
● also they didn’t offer an opportunity for problems, opinions, ideas and information to be discussed (employees had to find other, often more indirect ways of doing so),
● and as such DBT’s half-times didn’t add enough team value.
But as longstanding Agile Coach, and Klaxoon user for some years in a number of projects, Christelle knew she had the answer. So, when the lockdowns of March 2020 struck, she thought it might be the opportunity she was looking for to transform and improve their meetings. Her aim? Bring about greater participation! Also, with more and more employees working from home, and DBT’s work ritual turned upside down, management was open for change. So when Christelle suggested they overhaul their weekly half-time meeting with Klaxoon’s innovative tools, management went along!
How Christelle customized Klaxoon Board to make their weekly meetings much more efficient
When Christelle started out with her Klaxoon Board, it was just an online whiteboard, endless, yes, but empty. But in no time she built a network with 120 members, and then started to entirely personalize the Board, making it meet her team’s specific needs. At the same time, she made sure it remained simple so team members could take in everything at a glance. She dubbed it, “The DBT Half-Time Wall”.
Christelle’s Board is made up of lines where each line represents a week. It’s a very simple but effective setup.
● There is a first box, which contains the subjects to be discussed at the new-style weekly meeting dreamed up by Christelle.
● Then a second box, which displays the subjects not to be discussed, but that may be on the agenda the following week.
● Then a third box, which reminds DBT members of certain actions they have to take.
● And a fourth and last box, where the team members are invited to share suggestions for the following week.
So, in just 4 boxes Christelle built her own Board on the online whiteboard, 100% adjusting it to her dream. With a few easy steps, she lay the basis for lively meetings where members today freely share their ideas, problems and progress both during synchronous weekly meetings and asynchronous communiqués. Today everybody may log in from anywhere at any time, and take note of others’ postings.
More good news is that for those who suffer from ‘white-page phobia’, Klaxoon has come up with an entire collection of templates, ie. Boards offering ready-to-use solutions with clear, easy, customizable instructions. And for those with little time (or patience), there is an option that allows you to simply click a template and start using it without any prior customization. For efficient weekly team meetings, whether at work, home or elsewhere, you need look no further than the Weekly template. It will meet all your needs.
A well-organized Board to optimize your synchronous meetings
Before the meeting, all of the members can now log in and submit subjects they want to discuss at the meeting. They thus post their ideas in real time, visible to the whole team. At the same time, they can see what the others suggest. This eliminates repetitions.
When a member submits a subject, he must specify the time he thinks it will take to discuss it, as well as his name. He then will also be the one to present his subject. As such he will have the floor for a while! Also, when a member submits an idea, more fields will appear below it, for further info and specifications. In this way the Board helps members to better understand subjects or ideas up for discussion.
At each weekly meeting, for the first two minutes, participants take note of all subjects submitted and vote for those that interest them most. Thus it is the participants themselves who set the agenda!
Subjects getting the most ‘likes’ will be given priority. The others may be resubmitted the following week, if they are still current. If not, they will be handled in backlog, asynchronously.
Once a subject has been discussed, the meeting manager will move it to the “Done” category on the Board so all can know and see the subject has been closed.
“Klaxoon Board’s impact doesn’t stop when the half-hour meeting is over. It keeps on reverberating through Management long thereafter!”
A meeting designed to foster participation by all team members
Managing a meeting in an of itself requires teamwork. Three types of people are needed for a successful Klaxoon Board meeting.
First, the general meeting manager. His/her role is to plan the get-together, prepare the Board, and launch the meeting with the Klaxoon Live tool. Once that done, participants will receive a direct notification from their Board, and may join. It’s also possible to join the meeting through any other videoconferencing tool (e.g. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.). Throughout the synchronous meeting, the meeting manager will in turn invite each participant to vote for his or her favorite subject. Each thus gets a turn to address the meeting. Normally a DBT manager will take on the role of meeting manager, but it happens that others are called on to chair also.
Next you need the buy-in of participants, whose subjects will have been voted onto the agenda. They take the floor to name the subjects they offered for discussion, and which were voted for by a majority of the DTB. By allowing all to vote, one guarantees that the subjects most interesting to all will be discussed. This adds value for the biggest number possible of participants!
The subjects discussed during the meeting cover a wide range of topics. Some want to speak about organizational aspects. Others might want to take 2 minutes only for a short survey. Or to brainstorm. Or design think. Each meeting participant thus finds him/herself empowered to offer his/her idea as subject. All are encouraged to take the floor!
What’s more is that participants are given control over the Board – through Synchro Board – when it is their turn to speak. This enables them to move the Board and in real time display any support they might want (sketches, graphs, diagrams, etc.). This applies to both remote and in-house meetings. For the latter, the team can even use Meeting Board (if included in their package), or a screen, video projector, or any other display tool. Klaxoon Board supports all platforms!
Thirdly, you need a fine TimeKeeper. His/her job is to manage the time allocated to each speaker, ensuring that the meeting lasts no longer than 30 minutes. This has a very positive impact on the programs of team members! To such an extent that once the Live button gets clicked at the start of the meeting, DBT members know for sure that 30 minutes later, max, it will be done and they can carry on with implementing the decisions taken.
What advantages are to be expected from more participatory weekly meetings?
Did Klaxoon Board make Christelle’s dream meeting come true? Yes! And much more!
With team members participating much more, synchronous meetings have become far more effective
The first advantage is in the nature of DTB’s ‘half-time’ meeting. Christelle wanted a major meeting overhaul. With Klaxoon Board, that’s what she got.
All team members now vote at the start of meetings for their preferred subjects. It might seem like not much, but this simple step allows the meeting to focus on the team’s real needs. In a flash it turns the meeting into a real participatory event, closer to one and all’s true needs.
And now the time limits set for their synchronous meetings are respected, never exceeded. At the same time, never before has their information been so clear and useful!
Keener sense of belonging in the team, and a change of behavior in management, who now encourage members to take more responsibility
Christelle and her team see a real change in management’s attitude since they started working with Klaxoon Board. Management is using Board to sollicit greater participation from the team, as well as to take greater responsibility. The team has never felt such a keen sense of belonging, even between very different people, including those who work from home!
Also, Klaxoon Board made everybody get closer to one another and increase their level of participation. This holds true for meetings of 10 or 200 people. The tool is just as easy and efficient to use with large as with small numbers. The Board even led some at DBT to set up groups, workshops and networks. “Teamwork has never been easier”, exclaims Christelle!
A more horizontal and collaborative management style
The third big advantage Christelle sees is a marked improvement in management style, even outside of meetings. She calls it the “Teamwork 3.0” factor. Klaxoon Board has become employees’ preferred platform to exchange information, even asynchronously, because it brings everyone together. But also because it allows all to speak. Employees use it to share their ideas or escalate issues to management. Managers, in turn, use it to keep track of their team members, or to post project updates. As such, Klaxoon Board doubles as a very effective, direct project management tool.
You too can use Klaxoon Board to make your weekly meetings more participatory!
A last very big plus of Klaxoon Board is that it can be adjusted to any situation, including yours!
Whether you use it for a meeting of just a handful of people, or for 30 and more, it remains easy to use and accessible the whole time. On any platform.
It also fosters many new ideas, while keeping them structured. This avoids the cluttered sketchbook effect. The Board allows you to plan meetings in a structured way thanks to a toolbar designed to keep things simple. Or, for teams in a rush, you can simply select a ready-to-use template, which will get your Board operational in just a few clicks.
On grassroots team member level, here too everyone can customize the Board to meet his or her needs, whether to find a quick answer to some question, check up on the latest project status, and many more.
The fact that the Board can be accessed on any device is also a real plus, particularly now with so many employees opting to work from home or other remote locations.
In a nutshell, in your weekly meetings, Klaxoon Board will help you to better manage and make get-togethers shorter, get information flowing in both directions, and encourage all team members to participate.
And, outside of official meeting times, you’ll find that Klaxoon Board doubles as a highly effective, adjustable, real-time project management tool.
Which is why all types of teams of all shapes and forms of companies – small, medium and large – are sure to benefit big time from Klaxoon Board!