"Punch Meeting"

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I suggested last week that my group set up a series of "punch meetings" to keep us on track for a project we're currently working on. These would be quick, half-hour meetings to discuss progress on action items and to figure out what each of us needed to do next. Those of you who know me know that I'm not a big fan of meetings. Actually, I should clarify: I'm not a big fan of overly long or useless meetings. If a meeting is over an hour in length, I think it should be a working meeting, not a talking meeting. Know what I mean?

The long and short of it was that no one but me had heard the term before--so my colleague Brian Panulla looked for it. Nothing. So in true "former English teacher" fashion, I consulted the Oxford English dictionary. Nope--no "punch meeting," but enough of the definitions there made me feel justified in using (coining?) the term. Here's what I found:

From various definitions in the OED:

  • punch list n. chiefly U.S. a list of items such as small repairs, unfinished work, etc., that must be completed in order to fulfil a construction contract, typically created at the end of a project.
  • 2. fig. colloq. (orig. U.S.). A high or impressive level of forcefulness or effectiveness; vigour, effectiveness, impact.
  • B. adj. Short and thickset; squat, stout. Cf. PUNCHY adj.1 Now rare (Sc. and Eng. regional (north.) in later use).
  • III. To strike or hit.

Thus, my definition of "punch meeting" would be a short meeting where the goal is to hit a list of items that must be completed with the maximum level of impact.

Punch Meeting.. Get it? :)

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6 Comments

Chris Stubbs said:

Given the title of this post, I was a little disappointed to find out that this was neither a meeting that served delicious punch, nor the promotion of some sort of Solutions Institute Fight Club. But I digress...

For one of the projects I work on, we have bi-weekly phone update meetings with one of the key stakeholders, and I have been extremely impressed by the fact that Brad Kozlek has been able to keep them to 5 minutes in length or less. An agenda is sent out ahead of time. We run through a list of current action items and where they are status wise, briefly discuss any other outstanding issues, and badda bing. Meeting adjourned. Its like meetings light - all the content, now with zero calories.

I think part of the trick, and what could be the catch depending on your situation Stevie, is that there is almost no collaboration or brainstorming going on at these meetings. Features and design were hashed out at the beginning of the project - the bi-weeklys are pure business. Does it work? Is it on schedule? Move along. For our project its necessary, but I know that collaboration is the linchpin of a lot of the great work that goes on at SI, so this concept may not apply. But I can say its turned meetings from a chore into ... a much smaller less time consuming chore =) After all, no one likes meetings.

Good luck with the punch!

Stevie said:

Thanks, Chris! You're right, of course--five minutes is definitely an awesome meeting length! For this project, we started with a full-day retreat and did the brainstorming and collaboration, and now the punch meetings are used just as you use them--to update status and do short bursts of production that need all of our heads.

Nikki Massaro Kauffman said:

I LOVE the idea of a punch meeting.

While I am by most definitions a Gen X not a Net Gen, I sympathize with my Net Gen counterparts in wondering if many meetings could be shortened and the longer collaborative meetings could not be in many cases replaced by collaborative technologies that permit us to reduce travel time and/or multitask.

I'm finding here in higher ed, we are so meeting-saturated that we spend more time talking about our projects than acting on them. I often have more meeting time on my calendar than desk time to accomplish the goals set at those meetings.

When left without a time-limit, agenda, "punch meeting", or standing meeting, we have all seen meetings where precious time by all was usurped by conversations that should have happened offline in a small subcommittee, by rehashing of issues that should have been long decided, or by sideline items that do not relate at all to the charge of the particular group presently meeting.

Jim Heiney said:

While we were at PSU, Mike, Dave, and I always thought that as English teachers we had a divine right to coin phrases and create new words at whim. I dont think you were at Zeno's when we arrived at the realization, but I thought it was more than appropriate to fill you in now.

Cathy Holsing said:

Sounds like a take off on a "punch list" to me....THAT I've heard of. ;-)

ELIZABETH J PYATT Author Profile Page said:

I've always been a fan of these. I always tell people that weekly meetings will get shorter as the project goes on (maybe 15 min or even zero if it's really smooth).

Pre-scheduled "punch" meetings are also much better than unscheduled emergency "pop-up" meetings. I think these are the most dreaded ones of all.

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This page contains a single entry by Stevie Rocco published on January 23, 2008 8:40 AM.

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