What techniques have you used or would you recommend to update project status or resolve project conflicts other than meetings? This is a question from a company with a culture of meetings.
One of techniques which worked perfectly in one of my teams was something I call no-meeting culture.
There are a few prerequisites:
Team has to be co-located
Team can't be very big
Team members should work with each other for a longer period of time
Team members shouldn't shy out
The whole trick is to make discussions ad-hoc instead of organizing meetings. People start talking whenever they feel there's something important to discuss. Then people who are interested join and even if they don't they're called out.
Interesting thing is we quickly learned how to turn off the noise - discussions which weren't interesting for us. Of course this approach adds some distractions but you gain much more in terms of improved communication.
You can use the SCRUM approach, you can avoid formal meetings (the ones that are non productive and tedious)
SCRUM focuses on Team Meetings (The people who DO the work) to check what was done, what will be done and if is there any issue. If you involve stakeholder in this meeting then you are doing it wrong, because meetings with stakeholder and users are the most time consuming and little accomplished kind of meetings.
I suggest for meeting with users or stakeholder, to organize work-shops, where specific homework for each one is given before the meeting, users and stakeholder works, then in the meeting you have solid material to work with.
Making productive meetings is an art, you need as Project Manager, people skills, leadership, organization, discipline and formal authority. Any other condition, meetings will be frequent and non productive.
Avoiding meetings completely is impossible. This is because the main benefits of meetings are to get people together in one room to discuss, and maybe decide, on something.
While you can't eliminate every meeting, you can do a lot:
- Find out the purpose of every meeting. If it's not meeting its purpose, change or cancel it.
- Find meetings that HAVE no purpose and cut those out.
- Based on the purpose, decide on the minimum set of people who need to be there to accomplish that purpose. Invite them, and nobody else.
- Set a time-bound deadline (eg. 30 minutes) to make sure it doesn't go too long; when the meeting's over, it's over, get up and leave. (A physical timer, or alarm clock, works well.)
- Shift small meetings to other venues. Have a quick, informal conference call between the three or four people who need to be there.
Just be careful not to replace all your meetings with, say, email, or something that will eat up tons more time and be far less productive than a quick meeting.
And yeah, Scrum is great, if you can keep your daily scrum under control (eg. 10-20 minutes tops). I've sat in 90-minute daily scrums, and it's essentially a giant meeting that you would love to avoid!
Update project status by having a centralized source of project information that people can update and check themselves (like project management software or a project wiki).
To resolve problems, you sometimes do need the face to face a meeting provides.
But if the meeting is there to solve a particular problem, you only need to have the relevant people involved (and not do it in front of everyone else -wastes their time and brings in an unnecessary impediment to resolving the problem).