If you look back at old meeting minutes and wonder why some of the actions you agreed back then still haven’t been completed, then there are probably a couple of likely causes; the first is how well the action was documented in the first place, and another is will be the choice of who takes the action away.
The most likely reason for it though is just that the action owner is a busy person, and this action just wasn’t high enough up their agenda to get prioritised amongst all the other things they have to do. This is a fact of life but there are some things you can do about it to maximise the chance of getting the actions from your meetings completed on time.
For a start, you need to make sure the action owner is aware of the action. This probably sounds daft but we all know of the sneaky minute-taker who smuggles an action in to the minutes being aware that not everyone reads the minutes until the next meeting. We developed our meeting software, Magic Minutes, in part to deal with this. The software sends out emails immediately at the end of the meeting, one email per action to all the action owners.
You then need to give people a nudge – a chance to pull that action up their priority list while they still have a chance to do it – not sprung on them by surprise at the next meeting. All you can do then is moan about it – they have no time to get it done. A reminder email can go out a week or so after the meeting (for a monthly meeting) and then perhaps another a week before the next meeting. Our software does this for you automatically but there is no reason you can’t do it yourself manually by setting up reminder emails with delayed deliveries.
It’s no guarantee that all the actions are suddenly going to get done completely but it’s a start in helping people to manage their time better. It may be viewed as annoying by some to receive “nagging emails”, especially from a piece of software, but it’s almost certainly better than being on the back foot and defending inaction in front of your peers.