The formal output of Tactical Meetings is Projects and Actions, but they can be used to address any operational need: sharing information, giving updates, requesting projects and actions from other roles, etc.
Whereas Governance Meetings are focused on the structure of the circle, Tactical Meetings are focused on using the current structure of roles to get work done effectively and efficiently. Unlike governance meetings, anything that can be done in a tactical meeting can also be done outside of it. In many ways, Tactical Meetings are just a convenient forum where all circle members are together to sync up on the work of the week.
Call out distractions, get present for the meeting. One person speaks at a time, without discussion.
Checklists are used to have visibility over whether recurring actions are being done. The Facilitator reads the checklist of recurring actions. The relevant roles respond by “check” or “no check” to each item for the preceding period (e.g. the prior week).
Any circle member can request checklist items to be added the list, as long as they are for actions that have already been accepted by the role-filler as an action their role would take. In other words, checklist items may not convey new expectations on a role. If a circle member needs to add new expectations to a role, they need to propose adding an accountability via governance.
Each role assigned a metric reports on it by highlighting the latest data. It’s the Lead Link’s authority to determine which metrics are being reported on.
The Facilitator reads each project and asks: “Any updates?” The project owner either responds “no updates” or shares what’s changed since the last meeting. Clarifying questions are allowed, but no discussion. If anyone needs to discuss the project further, they are invited to wait for the Triage Issues step to add an item to the agenda.
This is the main part of the meeting, where participants triage their operational tensions. This step starts with building an agenda of tensions to process — one or two words per item, no discussion. If needed, the circle’s Secretary captures agenda items. Any participant can also add items to the agenda later.
Once the agenda is complete, the Facilitator starts going through the list. The goal is to process all the agenda items in the time allotted, therefore the time per agenda item is limited. For example, if we have 10 items on the agenda and 30 minutes left for the meeting, then we have roughly 3 min per item (or a bit less, to account for the closing round). The purpose of the meeting is not to analyze issues in depth, but to quickly triage them and get clear on what’s the next step to move forward.
To process each agenda item:
- The Facilitator asks: “What do you need?”
- The agenda item owner engages others as needed.
- The Secretary captures any Projects and Actions requested & accepted by any circle member.
- The Facilitator asks: “Did you get what you need?” If yes, we move to the next item on the agenda.
Five pathways to process an agenda item
There are basically 5 possible courses of action to address any agenda item. If a circle member doesn’t know what to ask the team to address his/her need, the Facilitator can offer these 5 possible pathways.
- Request a Next Action. A “Next Action” is a single physical, visible activity that progresses something toward completion. The need would be addressed is someone did something.
- Request an Outcome/Project. A “Project” is an outcome with a definite endpoint that requires several actions to be completed. The need would be resolved if someone agrees to work toward an outcome.
- Request or Share Information. There is no immediate need for action; the agenda item owner simply needs to request or share information with the circle.
- Request Help. The agenda item owner is not even sure what the issue is or what to request. In this case, they can simply request help from the circle to get clarity on their issue. The ‘tension’ needs to be identified before it can be effectively processed.
- Try to Set a New Expectation. Expectations can only be set in Governance meetings. The need would be addressed if an output was captured to bring the tension to a Governance meeting.
Also, remember several pathways may be used and/or several outputs may be recorded for any single agenda item.
Things to pay attention to:
- One tension at a time: Everybody can participate to the discussion as long as it’s helping the agenda-item holder to move forward. As soon as the agenda-item holder got what he/she needs or is ready to stop the discussion, the Facilitator moves on to the next agenda item. The Facilitator should be paying attention that the discussion stays focused on addressing the agenda-item holder’s tension, and re-focus as needed. If someone else wants to discuss the same or a related topic in order to process their own tension about it, the Facilitator should interrupt them and refocus on the agenda-item holder’s tension. The Facilitator can also offer them to add an agenda item of their own, so when we triage it, the discussion will be focused on their tension.
- If people are seeking consensus or buy-in: the Facilitator can help by asking what role has the authority to make a decision; and if it’s not clear, that’s an opportunity to clarify it in Governance. If it’s clear what role has the authority, then the person in that role should own their authority and not look for consensus. Note that it’s okay to request input or advice from the group when we’re not sure, as long as it’s clear that the decision is ultimately made by the person in that role.
- Someone is trying to set new expectations: when someone would like to expect something on an ongoing basis that is not already defined in Governance, the Facilitator can offer them to take an action to bring it to the next Governance Meeting. If it’s not in governance, it cannot be expected.
Each person can share a closing reflection about the meeting. No discussion.