Sunday, February 3, 2013

Think Of Blog Posts Like Meeting Minutes

The other day, while walking back to the office from lunch, an idea hit me...blogs are like notes from a meeting (minutes). For many of us, we attend meetings for work, church, and clubs. Meetings are where people gather around a table, conference over a telephone, or gather in virtual rooms to discuss agenda items.

During those meetings, someone is tasked with taking notes. This person focuses on capturing decisions, ideas, and to-do items. Once complete, the note-taker makes the meeting notes available to all persons in attendance. If your meeting functions like this, than you're in good shape.

Unfortunately, few people know what to do with meeting notes. How do I know? Well, based on my experience, I've seen minutes end up in trash cans, desk drawers, or the information black hole of nothingness. Effort is spent creating meeting documents, but it seems nothing ever becomes of the information. How do we fix this dilemma? We help find those items a new home.

Finding A New Home


With a beautifully created set of meeting minutes, it is time to transfer relevant items from the notes and place them somewhere that makes sense. In this section, I recommend a few options.

To-Do Items
One of the first things we can do is remove the assigned tasks and place them on a task sheet. Maybe we already have a list within Outlook, Google Calendar, Any.Do, or some other to-do application. However you have them stored, make sure assignments go into the same place every time.

Decisions
Depending on the type of meeting, decisions may come in the form of bylaw changes, policy updates, or a change in the standard operating procedures. Whatever the type, there needs to be a place to store final decisions so that people can begin acting upon them.

Remember, people have short memories and unless it is written down promptly, people tend to forget the details of the decision. Additionally, any new member to the group, team, or club, may not have the historical context to remember the final decision or the discussions surrounding the issue. Therefore, placing decisions in a document that is accessible by all is a very good thing.

Ideas
Unlike to-do items and decisions, ideas are little less immediate. To me, ideas are like seeds that are often planted but rarely germinate. Why? Because ideas, like seeds, need attention.

If you're like me, ideas come all the time. Unfortunately, one does not have time to execute on every idea that reveals itself. This doesn't mean an idea is not valuable. On the contrary, I think ideas are probably one of the most valuable things that come out of a meeting. Often, like tasks, ideas need to be prioritized and worked on.

Nevertheless, capture ideas in a notebook, spreadsheet, or document so that it can be reviewed often and reintroduced when the time is right. It's better to have a bunch of ideas that you never use than to have no ideas when you need some.

Tying It All Together


To bring the point of this article together, let me write that blogs posts are like meeting minutes. Bloggers capture ideas, share opinions, and offer information on a variety of subjects, but what happens to all of these articles over time?

I don't know about everyone else, but I have about 888 posts on DamondNollan.com. Outside of writing articles and sharing them online, I haven't done much else with them. On occasion I may refer back to an article, but I could be doing so much more.

In 2012, I wrote a couple of articles that begin to address the idea of blogging as a way to capture ideas and then transferring those ideas into something more substantial. The two posts are "Leveraging The Blog To Improve Career Readiness" and "A Four-Step Plan To Blogging A Long-Form Piece Of Work."

What I appreciate about those two posts are their contribution to the idea of writing toward a long-form piece of work that is easily organized and, most importantly, referenced. In my mind, the first stage is in creating helpful documents like small eBooks, white papers, and reports. Together, these first stage documents would contribute toward a more comprehensive work like dissertations, books, and manuals.

Once a first or second stage document has been created and shared, the most important step of all is executing the plans, best practices, and procedures outlined in the resource. By keeping a single copy of a manual online, for example, all employees, teams, or club members are empowered to work together in concert. Awesome, huh?

Closing Thought


As I prepare to end this article, let me share what I have done in my life as a result of this post. On my web site (DamondNollan.com), I have created a new "Library" tab. Don't get too excited because the only document on the page is a very early version of my "Knowledge Book," which is still a work-in-progress.

What I am excited about is that I'm writing the book in Google Drive and then sharing the link publicly. Google Drive allows me to create a document, share it, and then update the document on the fly. Anyone reading the book online will automatically receive updates. Additionally, I can receive comments from readers and get basic level analytics on the number of views from Bit.ly. Cool, right?

Feedback


Thanks for reading. Should you have any comments or questions on the article, I'd love to hear from you in the comment section below.

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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