There was a twitter interaction about testers being invited or not to team meetings and about providing value to the team.
And it got me thinking.
(I tried looking for it, but could not find it again… One of the things I hate about Twitter)
Why should you be invited to a meeting?
I have been in too many meetings – way too many by far!
Even today I get invited to a large number of meetings. Some of them productive and some of them less. And so I am a little allergic to meetings, especially those where I am not sure what value am I going to provide or get out of them.
And I think this is the key, it is not about having fewer meetings or more meetings, it is about having meetings that are needed == meetings that provide value.
And so, why should you be invited to a meeting?
There are ONLY 2 reasons to be invited to a meeting:
- You will be providing value to the meeting. Because you have something useful to say and the meeting will be more effective and efficient if you take part in it.
- You will be gaining value from the meeting. Because there is something important you need to know that will be transmitted as part of this meeting, and you need to interact during the session itself (meaning that a summary will not be enough).
There are no other reasons to attend a meeting – at least not in my mind.
Value to or from the team – a tester’s perspective
Now the question is, assuming you really can provide or gain value from a meeting, how do you get invited to it?
First of all, make sure you have the first part right!
If you think the value you gain is to know what is going on, then you do not need to attend the meeting, as it will be enough to read the summary or get briefed on what happened.
So, you need to clearly understand what value you can bring to the meeting, or why being in the session is the most efficient way for you to get value out of it (the answer to this usually is, because there are things that you need to clear out in order to run your tests – but there are other answers as well).
The important thing here is that most times you will need to make sure people understand this value, as it will not be trivial to all. And many times, especially when you talk about the value that you can bring to the meeting, you will need to show examples of value you brought or could have brought to previous meetings.
Remember that most times people do not really grasp the depth or the quality of the information you can bring to the table, and so you will need to help them understand this.
Meetings should not be a symbol of status – but it may say something about your value to the team
What you need to avoid at all cost is to behave as if meetings are symbols of status, and to avoid reacting to not being invited to meetings as a personal affront to your professional honor!
Most people simply want to keep meetings on track and avoid having people who cannot provide value out of the meetings.
It is not personal (in most cases), but it may be saying something about the perception of the professional value you are providing to the team. If people think you are providing great value, how come they do not want you in their meetings?
So once again, look inside before blaming others
So… For me, if you want me to like you try not inviting me to your meeting, and send me a summary of what you talked about and agreed upon!
But, if you feel that you are being left out of meetings you should be invited to, go and check what you’d need to change internally before blaming the organizers for not inviting testers.
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