In his blog post Status meetings are the scourge, Basecamp CEO Jason Fried explains why he believes that status meetings during critical events are a waste of time. He claims that meetings usually take the amount of time scheduled multiplied by the number of people in attendance and that there is no such thing as a simple one-hour status meeting. This is a lot of time to take people away from the work they are meant to be doing, costing money and reducing productivity. Fried claims that real-time, face-to-face communication wastes time, while asynchronous written communications encourage focus and allow people to take in information at the best time for them.
In critical events, status meetings have a heightened time-wasting effect, as there is an even greater time pressure than usual. Status meetings generally provide information on progress in the hour and conclude with a current status that is already out of date at the point it’s delivered. When event leads are forced to take phone calls and attend meetings to relay status, ask for approvals or deal with problems, they are distracted from the real work of running the event. During these times, team members may be unable to get direction from the lead because they are busy, creating further problems and wasting even more time. These status updates also interrupt the lives of stakeholders, who have to dial in to meetings and give approvals, often at odd hours of the night throughout the weekend. However, unlike during a regular work week, real-time status updates are crucial to ensure that the event is running to schedule and tasks are completed in the correct order.
We know that the answer is smarter communication. So how do we at Cutover provide that to our users?
Cutover allows for real-time status updates for team members and stakeholders alike, without the need for interruptions. When viewing the dashboard, users can access all kinds of information, including how far through the event is, whether it is on time or not and when they will be required to take an action, all without the need for time-wasting interruptions. For team leads, receiving real-time updates in this way prevents spirals of panic if there is a delay, as it allows them to focus on fixing the problem at hand. Status needs to be visualised in real time so that the focus is always forward-looking, modifying future activity to bring the event to a safe landing. All this is achieved through collaboration on a single platform that records those key decisions.
With Cutover, stakeholders can also view the entire event without having to distract team leads from their work and can pre-approve go/no-go decisions to avoid interruptions to their own lives. One Financial Services CTO described Cutover as ‘compulsive viewing on Sunday at 4 am’; they were able to sit back and view the progress of the event without having to interrupt it.
Cutover also automatically updates estimated event timings based on current status and provides email and text updates for important milestones and dependencies. In this way, it provides written information that creates a record of events for post-event learning and audit, the kind of communications advocated by Fried, but in the real-time form necessary for fast-moving critical events. With a dashboard that everyone involved in the event can view, combined with texts and emails to provide updates at critical points, Cutover eliminates the need for time-wasting status update meetings and phone calls that distract people from getting their work done and meeting important deadlines.