Are your monthly updates running on… and on… and on… and on?

A Forum in Guatemala was having trouble with their monthly updates running over on time.  They thought they had done everything right – everyone agreed to prepare their update form in advance, they knew to leave sections blank if there wasn’t anything significant to share, they allocated 5 minutes per person to share their update and they purchased a nifty, free-standing timer to pass around the table when people were talking.  But soon people were ignoring the timer, claiming they still had important things to cover when the 5 minute timer started to beep.  What to do?

A clever Forum member suggested that everyone prioritize each of the items on their monthly update form.  The most important item was ranked #1, the second most important item was ranked #2, and so on.  Then each person would share their update in order of priority, starting with number one and continuing in priority order until the timer beeped. This unexpectedly accomplished two things.  First, it enabled them to stop talking when the timer beeped because they had already covered the most important points.  Goal accomplished!  But the unexpected second benefit was that it let the other Forum members know what was most important to the speaker.  Previously, they had shared information in a linear fashion, reading down the page without regard to priority.  Now they have a better context for what is most important and meaningful to the person due to the prioritization.