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Reducing Wasted Motion at a Conference: Collaborative Note Taking

by Mark Graban on February 12, 2014 · 3 comments

io vs mouse pointer 150x150 Reducing Wasted Motion at a Conference: Collaborative Note Taking leanI hope many of you will be attending either (or both) of the upcoming LEI summits with me, either the Lean Transformation Summit in early March or the Lean Healthcare Transformation Summit in June. See you there?

Today’s post is something I wrote that’s being hosted on the LEI “Lean Post” today:

 Reducing Wasted Motion at a Conference: Collaborative Note Taking

I hope you’ll leave a comment there or you can share your thoughts as a comment on this post.

mark graban lean blog Reducing Wasted Motion at a Conference: Collaborative Note Taking leanAbout LeanBlog.org: Mark Graban is a consultant, author, and speaker in the “lean healthcare” methodology. Mark is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as the new Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. Mark is also the VP of Innovation and Improvement Services for KaiNexus.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brandon Ruggles February 12, 2014 at 1:02 pm


I have done collaborative note taking many times. I had one specific weekly meeting for a non-profit and the agendas were posted on google docs. We all had the opportunity to add to or edit the agendas in advance. We had rules like bold the important items, put question marks by the items we might not need to discuss… I owned the agenda in this case so I would check any notes and take appropriate action before the meeting.

During the meeting we all had digital devices ranging from laptops to phones (google has a great drive app) open to look at the agenda. This was a face to face meeting, but could work for any meeting format. We would take all notes on the agenda. We would generally have one note taker and everybody else could make sure what was typed was accurate and would correct or add to it.

This worked great, and we used this same format every week for over 1 year. I have since moved so I don’t participate any more, but I believe it follows the same format now.

I think taking this concept to a conference is a great idea. I would probably have a limited number of note takers, and have a bunch of editors, and anybody could add comments or thoughts that were spurred from the talk, but didn’t come directly from the talk in a separate section.

A standard format could be helpful also for each speaker. IE would each speaker have their own document or would they all be in one document…?


2 Mark Graban
February 13, 2014 at 6:31 am

Comment from Chad Walters on the LEI Post:

I think the idea of collaborative note taking sounds like a good way to collect and connect what is missing from a single note taker’s work so that the completeness of the collective notes document is greater.

However, what appears to be a possibility is that there will be a lot of rework, checking, correcting, analyzing, and restating…which would take more time and attention away from listening to the speaker. A collaborative note-taker would be listening and interpreting what the speaker is saying, while also reading what notes have been taken and adding his/her piece. (And maybe this is me not fully understanding the logistics of collaborative note-taking.)

But the logic in collaboration is sensible to prevent everyone duplicating effort. It can’t hurt to try it! (I won’t be in attendance, unfortunately.) Good luck and have fun!

My reply:

I guess part of the question is whether it’s “wasted motion” for each person to take notes or not… is it about the process of taking the notes or having completed notes that’s most valuable?

We’ll see if it’s an experiment that anyone is interested in participating in… even if it’s a handful of us.
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3 Mark Graban
March 5, 2014 at 6:16 am

I’m going to experiment with this here:


(google doc)
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