A Tool for Productive Meetings – Progress, Plans, Problems (PPP)

Getting the most out of your meetings, not meetings taking the most from you

What percentage of your time at work do you spend in meetings? If you’re a middle manager, it’s likely about 35% of your time, and if you’re in upper management, it can be a massive 50%. What’s worse is how unproductive these meetings usually are. And despite this we are spending more and more time in meetings every year

Progress, Plans, Problems (PPP)

Progress, plans, problems (PPP) is a simple but effective management technique for recurring (daily, weekly or monthly) status reporting. The goal of PPP reports is to bring everyone on the same page regarding what’s happening in your team. For example, you can do this using the PPP approach in your weekly team meeting where each team member reports 3-5 achievements, goals and challenges for that week.   

  • Progress is your accomplishments, finished items and closed tasks for the period ending. What have you done?
  • Plans are your goals and objectives for the next reporting period. What are you going to do next?
  • Problems are items you can’t finish. Quite often problems need help from someone else, not just you. The reasons can be waiting behind other team members, external factors or just unexpected happenings. Any problems you are facing?

PPP reports communicate three essential facts about a project: progress, problems and plans. There are both informal and informative. This can be done quickly with people spending no more than five minutes each. After the meeting people can meet up with each other to share ideas and help each other address problems so that people can achieve their plan for the week and progress.

Make sure each person documents their PPP and that there is a standard template used by everyone. These PPP reports should be brief and concise, with only the key information included, and written in a way to make it easy for everyone to understand what is (not) happening.

Try this approach for yourself and make it your own. Watch to see what happens in your meetings. Are they shorter? More effective? Are you progressing faster? Is there a strong team? Go on, just start and try it out – think of all the time spent in meetings you can free for productive use!

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