How have you transitioned the traditional pull plan model to virtual sessions?
"Because of the COVID 19 pandemic, we have had to get creative with how collaboration looks while working remotely. I have been utilizing collaborative document editing software to gather information prior to the session, and then holding the pull plan over a video call with screen sharing capabilities. It is incredibly important that each of the participants adds their action items before we meet. It is also important that the various team members understand that the pull plan session is not a chance to assign tasks to others; they should be coordinating separately beforehand to keep the meeting moving smoothly and should focus on their own action items during the meeting. No one likes to be caught off guard! We all understand that this is an unusual circumstance, and workflows look different for many people. As long as each team has one representative who has the knowledge and authority to explain and make decisions regarding action items for that discipline, the other team members can be looped in via the notes after meeting."
A screenshot (edited to maintain client confidentiality) of a recent virtual pull plan session.
What have you found to be easier or more difficult about virtual sessions, compared to in-person meetings?
"As a facilitator, one issue that I often deal with in live meetings is interruptions and sidebar conversations – with a virtual meeting, this has not been an issue! It is easier to keep people on track and focused, since there are fewer distractions. Virtual sessions also encourage people to come more prepared and to communicate more thoroughly with other team members prior to the meeting; this prework allows the session to be more efficient, allowing more time for discussion. Hopefully we will see this change continue into live sessions!
A downside of the virtual model is the lack of face-to-face connection. Frequently, the initial pull plan session is the first time that consultants meet each other and the client. I am a big believer in the importance of face time to build consensus. Video calls allow for some familiarity, but lack the informal introductions and conversation that occurs in a live meeting. However, based on the success of our virtual sessions so far, I think we would be able to offer a better call-in model for our consultants who are unable to travel to these meetings. Inclusivity is so important, and we are always looking for better ways to make sure that everyone can be an active participant, whether or not they are in the room."