Do you find it hard to keep meetings, training sessions or lessons on track? Using a “parking lot” is a great way to “park” an item for later discussion or action. Here are some tips for making your parking lot process more effective.
Why use a “parking lot”?
The act of accumulating contributed items that aren’t quite on topic during a given meeting, training session or lesson can help keep the meeting focused and moving forward.
When do I use “parking lot”?
When the meeting / training session or lesson gets off track with questions, ideas or issues worthy of discussion or action but are unrelated to the current topic under discussion.
How do I use a “parking lot”?
At the beginning of each meeting/training/lesson, place a chart labelled “parking lot” on the wall. The first time you use “parking lot” explain its purpose with the participants. Participants can use a post-it-note to place the idea, question, issue or new topic on the board. These notes can be added at any time during the session. The facilitator, teacher or chair can also direct participants to “park” their idea, question or issue. The note should include a short synopsis of the issue.
When do I refer back to “parking lot”?
As the facilitator or chair go back to the “parking lot” board before the end of the meeting. Ask the group to decide how each item will be addressed. Some ideas, questions or issues may be appropriate and should be added to the next meeting’s agenda. Others issues may be assigned to a group member for action (eg: who does what when), reporting findings in a future meeting. Some ideas, questions or issues will no longer seem important as they may have been covered or no longer need to remain open and can be eliminated or deleted.
Benefits of using a “parking lot”
- Using a “parking lot” allows you shift an issue or idea to discuss it at the time most convenient or productive for the team.
- It also means good ideas don’t get forgotten.
- Every idea, question and issue is dealt by the group before the end of the meeting, training or lesson.
- Assigning a group member to an idea/question/issue, a level action undertaken rather than just having a random discussion with no action.
- Building in a feedback mechanism, have the key findings report back to the meeting via a future agenda.
- Use meeting or lesson time more effectively.