Technique Brief: Daily Hot-List Meeting


Quick Summary
Screenshot Instill and reinforce a sense of urgency in your team with fast, productive daily meetings that keep everyone in sync without sinking anyone's time.


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What this is

This technique brief contains suggestions and recommendations for facilitating a daily "hot list" meeting. The purpose of such a meeting is to create and maintain a sense of team urgency during a particular portion of a project, ensure issues are addressed rapidly each day with no time lost to inefficiencies or misunderstandings, and keep rapid forward progress toward a near-term goal.


Why it's useful

Hot-list meetings are a highly effective, low-overhead way for team members to come together quickly and efficiently during a particularly urgent portion of the project and coordinate their work to meet a near-term goal. These meetings are meant to be more frequent and focused, and much shorter, than a general team meeting.

Hot-list meetings focus on quick discussion of immediate progress, plans, and issues around a particular area of work that the team is pushing through together. A typical application of hot-list meetings are during the end-game of a project where problems need to be fixed and final deliverables brought together quickly as the team pushes toward a release date. Another typical use is for "integration" activities—time periods in which the work of numerous team members is being brought together for the first time into a whole product. Integration, whether technical or otherwise, requires coordination among all the involved parties to ensure the pieces fit and work, and to correct issues quickly to avoid project delays.

The hot-list meeting is a tool to consider anytime the team needs to reinforce a sense of urgency around the work at hand. Daily quick touch-base meetings, especially if attended by the project sponsor, send a message that "this is important and we don't have time to waste." Of course, it is critical to run these meetings well, or they will degenerate into time-sinks rather than time-savers!


How to use it

  1. Decide where the use of the hot-list meeting is the most appropriate in your project. This technique is most effective for a small team or sub-team working on a time-sensitive and coordination-heavy portion of a project.

  2. Hold a "kickoff" meeting for this urgent portion of the project. Introduce the concept of the hot-list meetings to the team, including an explanation of the approach, and why it's important to follow certain meeting guidelines to ensure they don't turn into time-sinks.

  3. Hold your first hot-list meeting. Encourage the team members to think about what works and doesn't in the first meeting. Commit that you'll make changes to how you approach the meetings based on their feedback.

  4. After the meeting, make sure you do all that you can to address the project obstacles identified in the meeting. This will show the team that something will actually come out of each meeting.

  5. Collect their feedback about the meeting itself to understand and decide how to act on it in subsequent meetings.

  6. Hold a hot-list meeting every day for the remainder of the week. Then discuss with the team whether daily is the most appropriate frequency, and hold a mini-retrospective on the technique to identify any necessary adjustments for future hot-list meetings.

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