Judy Dobles, General Management Consulting


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  • Talking is easy; actually doing something is the hard part.  I am sure that everyone has experienced a meeting where a lot of good dialogue happened, good ideas were exchanged and healthy debate ensued.  At the end of the meeting, everyone concurred it had been a good meeting.  However, after a time, it started to feel like the same topics were discussed again and again, but little progress was made.

    The answer is very simple: an action register.   Everyone has good intentions, but an action register raises the level of accountability and keeps the team focused.  It ensures forward progress.

    The action register that has worked well for the teams I have been a part of contains 5 pieces of information:

    [1] The Action Item:  A brief description of what needs to be done.

    [2]Person responsible:  The person taking the responsibility for the item, even when it may require the work of others to fully complete.

    [3]Due Date:  The desired completion date.

    [4]Status:  This facilitates the discussion at the subsequent meetings. Our team agreed on the following categories – not started, on plan, need to catch-up, needs intervention and completed/closed.

    [5]Comments:  Additional information that the team feels important to note.

    We made it a point to review the action register at every team meeting and captured updates.  New action items were recorded during the meeting.  For us the action register was kept in a team folder on the company network and accessible to everyone.  An alternative would be to send it to everyone at the end of the meeting.

    The action register helped our team stay organized.  Action items only made it to the register when we all agreed it was important work to be done.  The person responsible volunteered for the task and set a reasonable due date.  We were all accountable to each other for ensuring the action items were completed.  It also aided in setting priorities.  It is a fact of life that many times there are just too many things on the “to do list”.  It is impossible to do absolutely everything.  The action register helps the team stay focused on what really needs to get done.  And in the end, you have the sense of making forward progress instead of just talking.