Action Minutes

Action Minutes are simply a means of recording the key outcomes of a meeting in which people can clearly see their responsibilities for bringing those outcomes into effect, and the subsequent meeting can clearly see progress and any issues therein.

Action minutes can be recorded on a flipchart in a physical meeting or on a spreadsheet (or other document) in a virtual meeting. Ideally it will be in a form which everyone can see at once.
Action minutes should have four columns:
  1. The outcome (or milestone) to be achieved;
  2. The individual(s) responsible for effecting that outcome;
  3. How progress will be communicated/confirmed;
  4. Date(s) of delivery.
Each person can then easily see their own actions within that, in a form that describes the goal rather than the task, and they can see their responsibility for the updates people require (and the medium to be used) prior to the next meeting.
A simpler form of Action Minutes misses out the third column, but this tends to result in one of two undesirable outcomes:
  • Either progress is not reviewed and delays are not addressed in a timely manner
  • Or meeting time is taken up with reports of progress which could more efficiently have been read on-line before the meeting

Using shared documents for Action Minutes

In virtual meetings, clearly a flipchart is not a viable device for action minutes.
However, setting up a shared document that everyone can easily see is. A good tool for this is Google Docs, and in particular their spreadsheet tool. This enables everyone to both see the tool and contribute to it at the same time, which is very useful if you are moving round responsibility to minuting the various parts of the meeting.
Additionally, Google Docs have other good tools which may be useful in conducting the meeting, and they can be all gathered together in one folder to provide easy access for people.
It is possible to do something very similar in sharepoint, but depending on your set up you may find the means of synchronising and level of sharing a bit more limiting.
The following template provided by NORC provides a good example of something you can easily set up yourself: NORC Template

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