Minutes: hours or days?

How long should it take for minutes to be published after the meeting is over?

Is this a lightweight topic? Maybe. Still

I think it may be the rule more often than not that they’re “typed up” and distributed just before the next meeting. Depending on the formality of the organization, there may be a motion to accept them, or not. I’d wager that by the time people are reading them, they’re approved over 90% of the time because, well, who can remember if they’re correct, or not.

I might also wager that since they’re produced just–in-time for the next meeting, the person creating them has largely forgotten the subtleties in the conversation at the original meeting, and therefore the minutes become little more than the ever-popular “discussion ensued” followed by the decision taken. Indeed, even the decision taken may or may not reflect exactly what everyone thought they were voting on.

Get those minutes out

Get those minutes out

So, when should minutes be produced and distributed?

Are they a mere annoyance and their production just a formality? Or, is their role something more substantial to accurately record the democratic process and agreements?

Might it also be suggested that, while not being a transcript of everything everyone said, they should also be a useful device to capture the key elements of why certain decisions were made? (I think so.) Typing in half-a-dozen points for a conversation that took thirty minutes isn’t too extreme.

Further, I’d say that their most useful purpose might be the trigger to make sure that people know what’s expected of them – and agreed to – in terms of action prior to the next meeting so that organizational momentum is maintained. Would you rather have twenty-five days notice to get your action items done (if you weren’t keeping your own notes), or see it emblazoned in your eyes as you’re about to give your status update to the other people?

A record of a decision in the past is good; perhaps the focus on the future is even more important.

My rule-of-thumb is to get minutes out within a couple of days. People often have things “back at the office” (companies) or “back at home” (non-profit volunteers) to deal with, so they’re not necessarily chomping at the bit for the minutes. However, after that, they serve as a good mental reminder to get on with the things they agreed to do.

So, are minutes just a device for the past, or also the future?

Get them done and out. It’s a wise thing to do.

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