Jour fixe - waste of time or indispensable

A jour fixe meeting is a fixed, regularly recurring appointment in a small group of people. The appointment ensures that all participants are always up to date, as topics are discussed continuously. In addition, cooperation is improved as conflicts can be resolved quickly and the ability to plan the meeting ensures a high level of attendance. That actually sounds as if a jour fixe meeting is indispensable. But is this really the case?  
A calendar with 4 dates circled in red.

What does Jour fixe mean?

First of all, the term is a misnomer. This means that although the term seems to come from French and can certainly be pronounced in French, jour fixe is not even a term used in French. Synonyms include: Regular appointment or weekly meeting. 

No other appointments are made on this date, because it is firmly reserved for the meeting. For this purpose, a fixed time and meeting place is necessary, at which all previously determined participants have to be there. A reminder should be sent to the participants by email or mobile phone, in which the schedule can be announced. It is important that the meeting is obligatory for the participants. Those who are prevented from attending must inform the person in charge as soon as possible in order to invite a possible substitute. 

Because the jour fixe meeting is a fixed, regular appointment, good planning is possible which leads to a high attendance rate. Staff members who work in different places, or who simply do not have time for a regular exchange of ideas, have the opportunity to share their level of knowledge.

Among other things, the status of the project is compared, or certain problems are addressed and the next steps are planned. This ensures that important issues are not put off, but are clarified in a timely manner, thus enabling good problem-solving. They can also be used to address problems between staff members, to get them out of the way as soon as possible and to strengthen team spirit.

It is advantageous to link a jour fixe meeting to a specific occasion. This could include a restructuring of a project, or perhaps simply the exchange of interim results. However, you can also simply use the meeting to give employees the opportunity to ask questions or to let them address their concerns.

What do you need to keep in mind when holding the meeting?

A jour fixe meeting should not last longer than half an hour. The short duration and a well-prepared meeting ensure high efficiency and motivation. Before the new topic starts, you should check whether all the goals of the previous meeting have been met or are being worked on. Then the new topics are worked on and afterwards the future topics are determined, tasks are distributed and the next meeting is discussed. It is also important to take proper report, which will be discussed later. 

When is this meeting not useful?

A jour fixe meeting should not be held if no success can be achieved from it. If there are no new topics, too many holidays or holidays coming up and thus too few participants can attend the meeting, the meeting should simply be cancelled. Furthermore, the topics should be precisely defined in order to prevent the meeting from dragging on. Therefore, it is important that the intervals between the appointments are neither not too long nor too short and that the topics are relevant and up-to-date.

5 Tips for a successful Jour fixe

  1. In the run-up to the meeting, it should be determined who should be present. For whom is this meeting important, who is directly involved in the project, who can contribute to the content? If people are forgotten it can lead to the information not reaching all the important people. They can read the minutes afterwards, but if there are questions, it would of course be best if they were asked directly at the meeting. At the same time, care must be taken that the number of participants is not too high. This could lead to loss of productivity, possible waste of time and also waste of staff hours if employees have to attend a meeting unnecessarily instead of being able to do their actual work. These organisational matters should be kept in mind by a person who is also permanently in charge of planning. This includes, for example, booking a room.
  2. The meeting will be a complete success if it is held regularly. Therefore, one should plan the date as early as possible and also in a way that all important people can attend. As already mentioned, a jour fixe meeting should be as short as possible. Ideally, it should be 30 minutes, but it can also be 45. This way everyone is attentive enough and the time is used effectively. If there is not enough time, meetings can be scheduled more regularly.
  3. It must be clearly structured in advance what the jour fixe meeting is about. Expectations and goals should be defined as clearly as possible. What is the project status, what are the challenges, how could they be solved and what is the status of the previously formulated goals? It is clear that the tasks can change from appointment to appointment. This should be communicated in advance so all participants can adjust to it and prepare accordingly.
  4. Before starting the discussion in detail, everyone should be brought up to the same level of knowledge. Either by having one person summarise everything or by having the individual participants share their current state of knowledge. Starting the meeting with the easy topics is advised. Afterwards the more complex topics can be discussed. However, care should be taken to close the meeting with a positive thought so all participants can leave the meeting with a good feeling.
  5. It is ideal to take minutes. These include content, results and future processes. Everyone can use these minutes to remind themselves of what needs to be done or what was discussed. A person should be appointed to write them. This person must agree in advance with the project leader how detailed the records should be and which form is desired. Should it only be a short summary or should it contain the whole process? Ideally, a template for the minutes should be prepared which can be used over and over again, as long as the general conditions remain the same. The notes and, if necessary, pictures taken during the meeting should be edited and made available for everyone. This can be done by email. Stakeholders or other interested parties may also need to be involved.

Properly conducted indispensable

The points stated above clearly show how important a jour fixe meeting can be for a project. By scheduling the meeting correctly, the project moves forward because all participants are on the same page and it is always possible to discuss problems that may arise. However, it is also important to make sure that no one does not show up for the appointment because of any excuses. Unless something important comes up, this appointment should always be attended. Furthermore, care must be taken that there are no digressions during the meeting. Otherwise, valuable time will be lost. And if you do realise that a meeting is not necessary, you should postpone it.

Jour Fixe - The IAPM logo
Author: IAPM internal
Keywords: Project management, Term, Tips, Jour fixe

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