TABLE OF CONTENTS
This article provides a brief introduction to the expectations around setting, attending, and managing meetings at B Lab. You can find more in-depth support for meeting design and management in the following Thinktific courses:
Please keep in mind that this article is not exhaustive; the P&C team is happy to answer questions and provide support to teams for any information not covered by this article. Please reach out to us with any questions by opening a new ticket - ticket responses are added to the FAQs section below on a regular basis.
Every meeting should have the following 4P's:
- Purpose: What type of meeting is it and what is this meeting intending to accomplish?
- People: Who needs to be in this meeting and what role or perspective does each person represent? (In other words, why is this meeting a productive use of this person's time?)
- Product: If this meeting is a success, what tangible outcomes will we have at the end (e.g. a decision on how to move forward, a brainstormed list of ideas, feedback notes from stakeholders, etc).
- Process (or Agenda): How is the meeting structured in order to meet its purpose? What is the beginning, middle, and end?
Note: If you are more comfortable with another framework for designing productive meetings, that is okay! Our goal with using the 4P's is to help us create a common language and set of expectations we can hold each other accountable to, not to force people to spend extra time adapting another process that works well for them. What's ultimately important is that you prepare for and think through meeting design so that everyone involved understands why they are there, what is expected of them, what the meeting is intended to accomplish, and how it will be accomplished.
- We commit to at least thinking through and ideally sharing the 4P’s (People, Product, Purpose, and Process) when preparing for meetings we convene.
- We commit to sharing an agenda (or intention to create the agenda together in the meeting) in advance for meetings with 3+ people.
- We commit to holding ourselves and each other accountable to these commitments, including asking questions of the convener if we’re invited to a meeting with no agenda or are unsure of our role in a meeting.
Ultimately, running good meetings is about respecting our colleagues' time. These shared commitments will help us respect each other's time by designing more intentional meetings, holding ourselves and each other accountable, and ultimately moving toward fewer and better meetings overall.
To Meet or Not to Meet?
Before setting a meeting, we urge you to please consider whether a meeting is necessary to achieve the purpose and products you seek. Some workflows and tasks can be more effectively completed by means other than meetings, including Slack, Asana projects, voice/audio messages (a new feature on Slack!), Loom recordings, and other modes of asynchronous communication.
Attending a meeting requires a material investment of time and energy, so before you convene one, please make sure you have done the preparation necessary to determine if a meeting is the best way to accomplish your goals.
Some common examples where meetings are often necessary:
- Discussions about contentious, complex, or high-stakes topics where lots of back-and-forth discussion will be necessary to reach alignment
- When social time with colleagues is the purpose of the meeting (important for building trust and psych safety!)
- Collaboration or brainstorming sessions
Some common examples where meetings are often unnecessary or could be minimized with the addition of asynchronous pre/post-work:
- Sharing updates on a project or "working out loud" (try a video or audio recording!)
- Collaboration or brainstorming sessions (could you create a proposal and ask for written feedback?)
- Asking for advice on a workstream or project in which you are the decision maker (could you ask for written feedback or ask your question on Slack with an audio recording?)
We welcome and value your feedback: your comments and questions help inform these articles and keep them up-to-date and relevant. If you feel we could improve this article in some way, please let us know by submitting a ticket or using the feedback form below.