The Blog of Miter

I'm Starting Miter to Be a Better Meeting Leader

In a previous post, Dave wrote about why he is founding Miter. Here’s my story. 

Back in my Oracle days, I spent a year as a Project Manager, running implementations in the retail vertical. The best part of being a Project Manager is that you actually have little formal power within the organization. There are many dotted lines, but no one ever reports to you. Without the PM there to keep track of the project plan, to cajole, beg, praise, wheedle, bang the drum, nothing gets done. Or certainly, it doesn’t get done on time and on budget. But, the team doesn’t do it because you tell them to - they do it because you remind them of the overall purpose and shared goals of the organization. Over and over and over again. 

When you think about a custom software project spanning multiple disciplines within an organization, you start to see how crucial meetings are to the role of the Project Manager in all of those activities. There are meetings with the developers who write the code to implement the custom requirements for a given project. There are meetings with the client to ensure their test data is delivered on time and in the appropriate format. There are meetings with the infrastructure team to ensure that data transfers can be appropriately scheduled. Overarching all of this are the meetings where the entire team sits down together to update each other on key developments in the project timeline and to tackle issues that are blocking the team from completing critical tasks on time.

In theory, I know how to run a meeting.

I know the importance of a tight agenda, of making sure that the pre-work is done before a status meeting, of eliciting feedback from all stakeholders, of aggressively paring down my attendee list. 

I’ve spent the last 7 years building sales organizations from scratch. Looking back at that time, did I ever implement those meetings best practices as a VP of Sales? The honest answer is not particularly... or at least not particularly well. I have relied on the formal power of my role or my organization to force the conclusions that I felt I needed. I’ve been terrible at remembering to tell my team the things I learned at other people’s meetings. I’ve routinely skipped the pre-work for my own meetings. 

It’s not all doom and gloom. I’ve been pretty good at providing a space for dissent and independent thought, though I haven’t always remembered to elicit it. I also think I’m pretty good at keeping status meetings as short as possible. Overall, though, I should be doing a lot better. 

When Dave and I started talking about his idea for Miter, I was really excited. I immediately recognized the potential for change in both the meetings I had been attending and in the meetings I had been running. Consistently executing on good meetings is hard work - work to which I often haven’t devoted the appropriate time or energy. 

In starting Miter, I’m looking to do better.

I'm looking to do better both as a leader in my own right and for professionals in general. So much of our working lives (and let’s face it, our lives overall) is taken up by meetings. How much more energizing and exciting would it be if that time felt productive, meaningful, even lively? That’s what I’m here to find out.