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Sharing GTD with Team

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  • Sharing GTD with Team

    I have been putting the GTD into practice for over a year now. I work for an IT consulting company. I have 6 direct reports. My team's role is to provide customer service and quality assurance for our clients and consultants. What this means is that we visit our consultants who are engaged at client sites. We typically do not have direct involvement in their day-to-day client project (with some exceptions) nor do we sell our services. Or role is to monitor their happiness factor and our client's satisfaction with their work. We typically visit a site once a week or every other week to meet with our people. The actual meetings range from private 1 on 1's, group discussions or just casual conversations at their desk. Our interactions with clients can have the same range of variety. On other occasions we may have lunch meetings with 1 or more consultants and/or clients for relationship building. The overall nature of the role blends some aspects of technology, management, project oversight, relationship building and sales support. My team or I will have from 5-25 people on our "roster" that we need to manage and keep track of.

    I have talking about GTD principles a great deal over the past 2 months and one thing has become apparent with my team. They are struggling with note taking and processing of these notes. They may get a significant amount of input during these client visits; some actionable some not actionable. I've encouraged them to be more disciplined note taking and review of these notes for action items. There is no way around that but I want to look at the bigger picture as well and help build an infrastructure so the entire team can share information. An objection/excuse related to note taking was that if they write something down on paper it's not easily retrievable months later. The desire for the ultimate solution would be a table pc that would allow them to take notes. This is not realistic budget wise. We've also noticed that those of us with Palm devices don’t find them effective collection devices for notes.

    My solution that I am recommending is that each person create there own system for collecting, processing and storing notes. These notes could be about many topics:
    Consultants: project status, observations, issues, concerns, career development needs, personal interests, etc Clients: same as consultants, Project Status, Technology Trends

    If they create effective and usable personal systems then it would be a matter creating processes where they transfer the key information that needs to be shared to appropriate systems that we share on our network. I.e.: performance review, career development, consultant observations and feedback. I have read posts from Jason Womack, DA and others that emphasize the need to over note take and toss what is not needed. I need to sell this with my team more so that they can see the value in this

    I've tried sharing key concepts over a period of time, so the team can see results with small steps. Email and inbox management has been a big hit. Most were struggling with that and I'm hearing good things from my guys. I'm slowly starting to see better follow up on things. The note taking and overall processing of information seems to be the next area where we can see improvement.

    Does anyone else have similar experiences either as a manager or as team member? Any suggestions on how to increase the chances of buy in and adopting these habits?

  • #2
    Whilst not a GDT technique this is something which I picked up from Extreme Programming (XP) and find it adapts well to most team activitites.

    XP advocates Pair Programming - ie one Developer codes and the other reviews in real time. Occaisonally they switch round.

    What I would suggest for you is that you get people to review their notes in pairs - the original note author along with someone independent from the meeting that the notes originate from.

    The independet person will need to continually prompt the author for clarity and explanation and can ask the GTD type questions such as "Is there a Project/Next Action here?", "If so, what is it?", "Can it be done now, delegated or deferred?" etc.

    I also think you need to agree with your team sone standards for documenting Projects and Next Actions particularly concerning Delegation and Waiting Fors. For example, all Delegated Projects and Next Actions to be e-mailed (or written on a single sheet of paper and placed in an in-box). All Waiting Fors to be followed up once a week (by e-mail, in person at a team meeting?).

    I'm not sure what technology you are using (Lotus Notes, Outlook?) but these include some good tools for sharing information, projects, next actions etc. I won't claim to be an expert here but maybe if you could post this information (and are interested in using the technology available) others could help.

    Eric Mack seems to be the guy for Lotus Notes especially - see

    Good luck with this - I am an IT Project Manager and am similarly trying to introduce some GTD techniques into the team - to be fair it sounds like you've already got further especially with e-mail (I still have Team Members with 2000+ e-mails in their in-box and have only opened a random selection of them despite my prompts for looking fo reference v actionable and desk training regarding the creation of folders... )


    • #3
      Common filing system?

      This is not my field. However, what about having a common reference filing system for paper notes? You could require that all notes once taken be processed, GTD Styel, onto a standard "coversheet" which would be on top of each set of notes, using a standard form. The form would list the areas critical to your type of projects, and also the NA's or sub-projects which had been "drawn out" of the notes, along with who had the NA. You could do this processing as a group, postmeeting, if needed, as long as you had a central list and location for the results of the processing. You might be willing to take only the results of the processing to transfer to electronic format, for distribution and tracking.



      • #4
        Just to throw out an idea that might be a little "outside the box," have you considered taking these notes on a dictaphone. They can be transcribed by an administrative assistant, or there are services that take dictation over the phone and email you the transcript. I don't know if this will work for you, but it's an idea.


        • #5
          How about OneNote

          Why not equip the team with MS OneNote using existing laptops and use the recording feature in OneNote to capture a transcript of the meeting/discussion and identify and enter the next actions that arise as the meeting occurs. Then as you upgrade the laptops move to tablet PC's.
          Last edited by kvyoung; 08-24-2005, 03:13 PM.


          • #6
            The answer

            We are trying to address the requirements of using GTD in teams with a new web app and are inviting people to voice their requirements at:


            • #7
              Some good ideas already posted.

              I would recommend that notes be taken however individuals are comfortable taking them. If that's on paper now and it works, fine. Establish an amount of time after the meeting that key information from the notes must be processed and published electronically. Here meeting minutes must be published within two business days of the meeting. Once the electronic version has been published, the backup notes have continued value for an extremely short time so how they're stored is unimportant.
              As you mentioned, if you have shared space on a server that at least your whole group can access, that would be a good place to post the information. Get the group to agree on a template for publishing the results. You can start with a strawman that you put together if you believe they will provide feedback for changes to you and not just accept it. Put the template on the server. Give the template a memorable name. If you don't have shared space, you may need to email the results to one another.

              The notes should make clear what's informational (decisions, observations) and what's actionable (follow up action on issues). If actionable, who has the next action, what it is, and when it's due. Then a tickler should be created for the due date. (If the action needs to be done by someone who did not participate in the meeting, there is an action item to communicate with that person and get their buy-in that they own it and get their commitment to a due date before the document is published. I only state that because I've seen instances where someone publishes an action item and assumes the delegated person will read the document, find the action item and do it and not have a problem with this method. Not so!)

              By the way, this will be a great opportunity to discussion Next Actions and how they should be constructed vs. projects.

              The document may also be a great starting point for the next meeting if only to follow up on the action items.

              Once you have a process in place, you will need to monitor and reinforce. Each week read a sample (how large it needs to be is up to you) of the documented results. Provide individuals private feedback - Where is the writeup (memorable name inserted here) for your meeting with Johnny Big, I can't find it in the shared folder? Your action items need to include the person responsible, you usually do this but you're missing some in the (memorable name) for your meeting with Jane South last week. Publically point out examples that people have done that meet your expectations. Point out anything you become aware of where a benefit came from the documented information.

              If people know you're really looking at the Key Information they've documented, they're more likely to document it and do it well.