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Mastering Meetings: “Parking lot” technique

Group of people having a meeting at UnitedCo.

A “parking lot” is a project management technique used during meetings and discussions to temporarily set aside ideas, issues, or topics that are important but are not immediately relevant to the main agenda. It’s a way to acknowledge and capture these items without derailing the current conversation. The term “parking lot” is metaphorical, as it implies that these items are temporarily parked and will be addressed at a later time.

Here’s an explanation of how the parking lot technique works in project management:

Understanding the Meeting Context 

Imagine this scenario: you’re in a meeting, workshop, or brainstorming session, delving into various topics, ideas, and discussions. However, there’s always a risk of veering off course or spending too much time on a single issue.

How It Works

When someone raises an idea, question, or unrelated topic, the facilitator or project manager doesn’t dismiss it. Instead, they acknowledge it and record it on the ‘parking lot’ board, whiteboard, flipchart, or within a dedicated digital space. Here’s the process:

  1. Summarise the item and identify the contributor. 
  2. Set it aside, allowing the meeting to flow smoothly without disruptions.

Unlocking the Benefits 

Why do we favour this technique? Let’s dissect the advantages:

  • Maintains Focus: By temporarily parking off-topic items, we focus on our meetings’ objectives.
  • Prevents Diversions: We don’t neglect crucial issues; instead, we address them at the right time.
  • Encourages Participation: Knowing that we acknowledge everyone’s contributions motivates everyone to share, even if those contributions are not immediate discussion points.

Handling Parking Lot Items 

At the end of the meeting or during designated breaks, the team revisits the parked items. They decide to address them in future meetings, assign responsibilities to specific individuals, or take immediate action when necessary based on their relevance.

Documenting Every Detail 

This step is never skipped – the team meticulously documents every parking lot item and the action plan. This ensures accountability and follow-through.

Whether it’s a team gathering, a conference, a seminar, or a strategic brainstorming, our United Co. meeting rooms offer the ideal setting for the Parking Lot Technique. It’s the key to keeping discussions precise and signifies that every idea holds value, even if it’s not an immediately actionable item.

, where efficiency meets innovation!