This is the third in a series on The Basics of Organizing For Data Science.

In this series:

Why Document A Meeting

  • Because data is getting generated by people;
  • Because data is getting organized or disorganized;
  • Because the probability of full quorum approaches 0 as the number of participants increases to 12 and beyond;
  • Because decisions are at their clearest when they are documented and circulated;
  • Because those that come after you can trace the intuition for a decision.

Which Meetings To Document

  • Meetings with a strong decision component should be documented;
  • Meetings with a very strong situational awareness component should be documented;
  • Meetings of peers engaged in thoughtcrime or thoughtcrime planning should not be documented.

When To Document A Meeting

  • As the meeting is happening, live.

When Not To Document During A Meeting

  • Somebody says “Off the Record”, “Just between us”, “Privately…”.

How/Where To Document A Meeting

Several possible ways, here are two:

Live Google Document

  • Copy and paste the agenda into the document;
  • Share the document with all participants;
  • Put the agenda up on a screen where it’s visible;
  • Invite free-for-all documentation;
  • Record notes under each agenda item;
  • All participants are free to correct the record as it is produced.

Intra-Email Document

  • Open up blank email;
  • Copy and paste all meeting invitees into the send box, add yourself;
  • Copy and paste the agenda into the email;
  • Pound out notes;
  • Invite corrections;
  • Say ‘BYE!’ and hit send on the email.

Who Documents A Meeting

  • Ideally, all participants;
  • If nobody else is doing it, you can immediately boost your value by doing it;
  • Some chairs are able to document and facilitate at the same time.

What To Document

  • Participants;
  • Facts;
  • Observations;
  • Solutions;
  • Problems;
  • Interpretations;
  • Options;
  • Considerations;
  • Constraints;
  • Decisions;
  • Next Steps.


  • Meetings happen for a reason;
  • Meetings have an objective;
  • The results of the meeting, either in reaching the objective or not, should be documented;
  • The results should leave a residue for those who didn’t make it, for those who did, and for those who will come later.