Project Steering group meetings are important for the creation of decisions. Steering groups can be a part of a larger project governing body which includes other meeting groups as well.
Steering group or committee
A steering group or a committee is an important part of the project structure with which effective project governance can be achieved. Usually steering committees are formed to make strategic decisions for any project, especially for its long term aspects such as considering its future realization of a specific plan.
The first aspect of organizing a steering group meeting to take place effectively lies in getting the right mix of people to participate in the group. It involves selecting people from various age groups, experience, departments / groups, and schools of business and thought. People with both hands-on experience and people with managerial and administrative skills are necessary additions. Having students or relatively new professionals can help in adding enthusiasm and new thought to the committee. Key persons of the group are important to identify to carry out the meetings in a constructive manner
The other important aspect of the constitution of the steering group is the size of the committee. Small groups may lose out on not having enough range of experience and perspectives. Oversized groups may suffer from having too many viewpoints. It is necessary to find the right mix and the right size. Whereas keeping the group neither too small nor large helps in making an optimal cone of vision for the collective group which is neither too restrictive nor too open ended.
The core aspects of effective steering group meetings include pre-meeting factors such as frequency of meeting, location, agenda formulation and preparation. Meeting too often can lead to repetition of discussion and lack of evolution of collective understanding. Locations and timing of meeting must be chosen based on convenience for all. Agenda preparation and formulation is a matter of taking initiative which is important for controlling the direction of the meeting and without it meetings would lose focus.
All meetings must have a chair or a facilitator whose job is to steer discussion to a fruitful end. More than controlling content the chair’s job is to get an overview of the discussions and look at the bigger picture of the meeting. Making new members feel at home and include them in discussion by introducing them is also part of their job. The chair is expected to not get into the heat of the discussion. It is also the chair’s duty to manage the housekeeping activities including sending out the agendas, coordinate the meeting, ensure refreshments are made available. It is also necessary to assign a person to take notes and make minutes of the meeting for future reference and analysis of discussions.
Over time it is necessary for steering committees to assign roles to the members so that they not only bring in their natural thinking but are forced to think outside of their comfort zones.