Who What When

Who What When: How to guarantee action after every workshop or meeting

Read time: 2 minutes

In this issue, I will show you my preferred way to create an action plan at the end of every workshop or meeting.

How many meetings and workshops have you been in when nothing happens after?

The only way to guarantee action is to build a robust and repeatable action planning step at the end.

Because action planning is usually done at the end of a workshop, it means people are tired. And tired people are reluctant to do stuff.

So you need a process that works, adds obvious value, and is easy to tap on at the end of any workshop or meeting.

Unfortunately, most meetings and workshops don’t have a reliable process that works.

Workshops without action plans at the end are likely a waste of everyone’s time.

The framework you’re going to learn today is called “Who What When”.

If you use it, no one will ever accuse you of wasting their time again.

The benefits are:

  • It’s quick and easy; you only need a flip chart or whiteboard.
  • Everyone walks out with actions they volunteered for.
  • It’s clear what’s expected of each person.
  • You get agreement on how and when the actions will be chased down after.

Here’s how it works, step by step:

Step 1 - Setup

Draw a table on a flip chart or whiteboard with 3 columns - Who What When.

Put every person’s name in the WHO column and give them their row.

The order of the columns is important. WHO must come before WHAT.

This is where most action plans fail because they start with the WHAT (i.e. the tasks that need doing) rather than the people.

Starting with the WHO sends the message the people in the room come first and are accountable for what happens next.

A subtle but important distinction that makes all the difference.

Step 2 - Add the WHAT and WHEN

Each person spends a few minutes thinking about what they will do after this workshop.

They write this down (either on Post-its or straight on the flip chart) in the WHAT column.

Then they write a realistic date by which they will complete each task in the WHEN column.

Who What When Completed Matrix

Step 3 - Build consensus

As a group, you reach a consensus on the action plan.

  • What’s missing?
  • Do the dates work?
  • Is everyone contributing?
  • Could some people do more?
  • Should some people do less?

Finally, agree on how the follow-up is to happen.

Using this strategy, I never worry about a lack of action after my meeting or workshop.

Instead, it becomes a simple game of problem → workshop → action plan → improvement.

Well, that’s it for today.

I hope you enjoyed it.

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About the Author

Nick Martin helps leaders & consultants improve team results with resources, advice & coaching through WorkshopBank.com