Learning patterns/Plan meetings around document creation and revision
What problem does this solve?
Long-term projects, like those planned for Individual Engagement Grants usually require a lot of document creation and revision for planning, assessment, and reporting purposes. In a team, it can be problematic when a document that many people have an interest in is in the hands of one person. This can result in a lot of back-and-forth and multiple versions of the document to manage. In addition, it can be counterproductive to use meetings to talk about the document rather than actually implementing proposed changes.
What is the solution?
Planning a meeting around collaborative document work reduces the amount of back-and-forth needed to actually get the document finished. It also facilitates the discussion that would normally happen during a meeting. Whatever the conclusions of that discussion are, it becomes easy to make any necessary changes to the document on the spot. If the document can be completed during the meeting, it can also help with "version control" (i.e. trying to minimize the number of document versions floating around so no one uses an obsolete one).
Things to consider
- Ensure that everyone has access to the software you are using to work on a document together. The set of Microsoft Office-esque software offered through Google (Docs, Sheets, Slides) can be helpful. (see Google Docs about page for more information).
- Working on a document together isn't a good strategy when the writing largely needs to be done by a specialist. It's also not good for trying to complete documents that are very long, but it can be good for revising longer documents.
- Consider how much time everyone has for the meeting and adjust your goals for the document accordingly. One hour may not be enough time to finish an entire document, but you might be able to finish a particular section of it.
When to use
- In the this IEG grant, the project manager and researcher worked together to build and revise the particular questions used in multiple surveys throughout the project. The program developer and project manager also worked together to revise conceptual models and ideas initially started by the developer.
- Documents for which many people in your project might have input, particularly dealing with timelines and scheduling, can be good to work on together. Other commons examples might the initial grant proposal, budgets, and monthly reports.