Monday, October 15, 2012

Action Items and other buzzwords

Alright.  You've asked the dumb questions and now know what you've got to do.  The holes in the plan have been filled in and you're feeeeeling good.  You whistle a happy tune as you head back to wherever it is you code.

And then, just like that, you're lost.  You frantically scramble over the meeting minutes and discover that what you consider the "Important Bit" is only written as "Joe talked about working on the FooBar project."

Fortunately, Scott Belesky (author of the excellent Making Ideas Happen) has also encountered this problem.  He recommends capturing these notes as "Action Items."

The format of an Action Item is really simple.  Every time something you'll need to do comes up in a meeting, write it down on a small piece of paper.  Personally, I use a pocket notebook, but you can use Post It notes or anything small that works for you.

These don't have to be exclusively used in a meeting.  Carry your notebook around with you.  Capture them when you have a good idea to follow up on.  Write down complaints other people have (any great product solves a problem).  Action Items are a great alternative to the ubiquitous "To Do" list.

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