Summarize: Accelerate the group's process by wrapping up a topic with summary statements or questions. It also helps groups move toward closure. Start by making a statement, such as "To wrap up this discussion: Everyone agrees the scope should not include X, and we need to revise our scope model" or "I hear us agreeing to ask the customer to help us develop user acceptance tests in the next iteration."
If you've tried these actions to no effect or have asked permission of the person in charge to do so but have been turned down, then your last resort is not to participate. In the end, we are responsible for making optimal use of our time to serve our end customers. If you can be more productive doing other work than attending an ineffective group session and you have honestly explained your reasoning for not attending, then you are acting in a professional manner. Indeed, your example might inspire your colleagues to follow suit.
Collaborating teams are comprised of individuals who take personal responsibility not only for their own behavior, but also for promoting healthy collaboration of the group itself. That includes ensuring valuable use of the group's time together. We have all heard about the staggering cost of ineffective meetings. We don't need to be victims or contribute to the waste. If the process is not working and you're not the designated facilitator or leader, you can still take corrective action. These suggestions are small but powerful ways to affect your project community.
- Gause, Donald C. Gause and Gerald M. Weinberg, Exploring Requirements: Quality Before Design. Dorset House, 1989
- Gottesdiener, Ellen, Requirements by Collaboration: Workshops for Defining Needs. Addison-Wesley, 2003.
- Tabaka, Jean, Collaboration Explained: Facilitation Skills for Software Project Leaders. Addison-Wesley, 2006.