Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Note-taking & follow-up.

In my job I get to formally meet with business staff and executives where the topic of conversation is technology. Typically, these meetings occur only a few times a year, and take the form of an update on what's launched recently, what's up and coming, and then significant Q&A time on what's needed, not working, or simple desired.

I treat these meetings as a unique opportunity to get feedback and requests. I take detailed notes about what is being asked for. While I clearly cannot get everything done, I find these notes critically in letting the business know that I am listening to them. I distribute my itemized notes a week or two after the meeting, follow up on any items that I have immediate answers for. I'll also review my notes 3 months or 6 months out and send further follow-up any issues or systems that have been fixed or deployed, or even just being discussed or considered. I also bring my notes to annual planning meetings as they'll influence priorities and decision-making.

I've gotten a lot of positive feedback from business users and executives that they are not used to getting such follow-up from technology. Their past experiences were frequently that they were not listened to. Interesting, this follow-up does not create the unrealistic expectation that everything will get done, a fear some technologists have (if I write it down, I am committing to it).

Note-taking and follow-up are active listening tools that will get the attention of your user-base, and help you on the road to creating a service-focused technology organization.

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