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The Agile Meeting Manifesto

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  1. Is the meeting necessary?
    Occasionally meetings are the lazy way to move a project along the process. If you don’t need a meeting, don’t schedule it.
  2. Is there an agenda?
    Without a solid agenda, please refer back to question 1. Agendas should cover what the goal of the meeting is and the brief topics to be covered.
  3. Timekeeper and Scribes in the meeting
    Nothing worse than waiting for someone to get their notes down, or a meeting that runs over because someone wasn’t watching the clock.
  4. Clamshells down.
    If you’re in the meeting, be in the meeting. Unless you are presenting your computer should be shut and you should be paying attention. If you’re checking email, please check items #1 and #2 and make sure you are the appropriate member of the team you represent.
  5. Take Derailing Questions or Discussions to Sidebars
    “Can we table that issue for a discussion after the meeting? I’d like to stay with the agenda for now.”
  6. Good post-meeting notes within an hour of the conclusion of the meeting: action items and dates recorded.
  7. Do you need the next meeting? Can you take the previous discussion notes and turn them into the next agenda? If you don’t need the meeting, cancel it and give your colleagues time back in their day.

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

Other posts of interest:

The Corporate Miss: Cubefarms and Open Office Environments


I work in a very interesting open office environment. And you know what one of the benefits of this setup is? Nothing.

It sure keeps us quiet. If that’s the idea, it works pretty well. We sit feet from each other and we stare into our “privacy-enhanced” dual monitors and we don’t talk. Talking would be rude. And when the younger group of consultants, talks about 50 feet behind me, it IS annoying. This is a huge miss. We’d rather send an email than drop by and say hi. For consideration of our neighbors.

So everyone wears ear buds and listens to music or pretends to listen to webcast presentations. We’re really just hanging out in our little fishbowl, wondering who is watching us and why they’ve got us all clustered together. This building has about 2 complete floors of available space. They could give us each cube and offices if they wanted to. But they don’t. Something about this layout says “innovation.” Something about this open environment says modern. What it really says to all of us, “I’m watching you.”

And if you know anything about corporate IT you already know they can watch every keystroke. Do they? No. It would be extremely boring and inefficient. But they put little sniffers on your computer. 1. Is he opening Facebook? 2. Is he checking his personal G-mail account too often. 3. Is he opening inappropriate sites? 4. What applications does he spend the most time on? (They can ask for a break down of you entire day, week, or month by application activity. So, it’s not like we’re going to get away with anything if we were not looking over each other’s shoulders.)

And the millennials are not much happier. Sure, they break out in song and dance every now and then to piss the rest of us off. But for the most part their joy is also muted by the observation of considerate silence.

I was walking around the building today and walking past a very clean and open cube farm. I once thought cube farms were the height of impersonal space. Today, I think a cube farm would be a major upgrade. When I visit my friends on the 5th floor, they’ve all got their own spaces. Their own walls to hang things. Their own extra chair for people to stop by and chat.

So what’s the motivation behind the open office environment? Enforcement? Compliance? Space savings? What ever it is, the research shows the detrimental effects of being in an open environment. I’ve just mentioned a few.

  1. Isolation – rather than open
  2. Noise – zero privacy
  3. High stress – as opening your Facebook page might get you busted

What they’ve shown, more than carrots and sticks, workers prefer being given the opportunity to succeed on their own terms. Mastery seems to be its own reward. So if they put us in spaces that respected our human nature the wouldn’t need a manager in a desk looking directly over everyone. It’s demeaning. It’s cruel. It fosters subversion and hiding in conference rooms.

Whatever the open office experiment was, it has failed just like the open classroom idea that came in vogue as I was entering 7th grade. No work got done. In middle school all we did was make eye contact with our friends and goof off. In the corporate environment the exact opposite occurs. We make zero eye contact, we rarely talk, and in the middle of a group of people we can feel more isolated than when we are alone.

I’m not going to change my company anytime soon. But I have to say, I’m really glad I only work with them as a consultant, part-time. If I were there 40+ hours a week, I’d bug out.

Reference: Why the Open Office Fails – Forbes

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

Other posts of interest:

Four Laws of Twitter Reach: A Super-Quick Strategy for Twitter


The math on your Twitter reach is not encouraging. And if you’re using Twitter as a normal human being you probably tweet out your newest article or update a couple of times on the day it is published. There’s a better way. If you look at the analytics behind your tweets, you’ll see some startling and depressing facts. But it’s those facts that we will use to build our new reach strategy.

Here’s a typical set of twitter stats for my account. (I’m stuck at about 20,600 followers.)

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So my reach is not ever going to change much unless I get ReTweeted by someone with a huge audience or if I pay for reach. (More on why paying for Tweet Reach is such a bad idea.) What this tells me, is that of my 20k+ followers, at most, 1% or less of them is ever going to see a single tweet of mine. Well, that explains why so many people get discouraged with “normal” tweeting and the lack of impact it has on their business. And with most accounts hovering between 500 – 1,500 followers, well, the math get’s really bad at that level.

There are several things you can do to make this 1% reach work for you.

  1. You can tweet a lot more frequently.
  2. You can learn what tweets are getting engagement and craft new tweets accordingly.
  3. You can use hashtags to find new audiences.
  4. You can use hashtags to throw variation into your tweeting.
  5. Use a tool like Tweetdeck to tweet and respond to all RTs like a pro.

So if I do the math, and I get about 1% reach on my Tweets. How many times do I need to tweet in order to reach 15% of my followers? Needless to say, you can tweet the hell out of something and not really risk over exposing any of your followers.

And while I am vehemently against robo-tweeting, I do tweet top articles about 10 times during the course of the day. I use new hashtag variations, and original tweets to keep from being a robot. But again, I’m a purest.


  • Grow your reach by growing your followers.
  • Blast tweets all the time, you’re probably not reaching the same people.
  • Create unique tweets by using different hashtags as you go throughout the day.
  • Always tweet in real-time and respond to anyone that RTs or responds to your tweet.

And here’s my take on paying for Twitter Reach. Even on one of my best performing tweets, above, I’m going to get an estimated 6 clicks for $10. Ouch! That is as awful as it sounds.

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John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)