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The secret to running effective CAB meetings

I just finished reading this book, and while reading I couldn’t help but think about all the people that I’ve spoken with in the past 15 years struggling with running effective CAB meetings. The book is only 80 pages so you’ll finish it in 20 minutes but it gives you a lot of stuff to think about. The book basically deals with the way you can use meetings to your advantage by improving the rate of decisions and the amount of time you can spend on innovation and ‘getting the work done’.

What are the lessons you can learn from this book in relation to your Change meetings?

Some of the questions you need to be able to answer as the Change Manager:

  • How often to you call for a CAB meeting?
  • What is the purpose of the CAB meeting?
  • When do I need a CAB meeting, and when can I make the decision by myself and simply send a memo to the other teams about the outcome of my decision?
  • Who attends the CAB meeting?
  • How long do the CAB meetings go for?

In my mind, a CAB meeting is a decision making meeting which means a lot of discipline for both the Change Manager who chairs the meeting and the attendees who are invited to play a part in this meeting.

  1. What is the decision that needs to be made at this meeting?
  2. Is there a conflict as a result of this decision?
  3. What information do the attendees need PRIOR to the meeting in order to make a quality attribution to the CAB meeting?

The Modern Meeting (that also applies to the CAB meeting) is based on the following 7 points: (see for more information)

1. The Modern Meeting supports a decision that has already been made.

If a decision maker needs advisement pre-decision, he should get it from others via one-on-one conversations. Only after a preliminary decision is made can a meeting be convened. A meeting might be necessary for either of two reasons:

Conflict: The relevant stakeholders can debate the decision, propose alternatives, suggest modifications, or have concerns addressed.  The decision is ultimately resolved.

Coordination: If a decision demands complex collaboration from different people, teams or departments, stakeholders can convene to coordinate an action plan.

2. The Modern Meeting starts on time, moves fast, and ends on schedule.

The Modern Meeting enforces firm meeting end times to ensure that the resolution and implementation of decisions aren’t delayed needlessly. The meeting ends, a decision is resolved and participants get back to work. If you are late, we will start without you. And we won’t invite you next time.

3. The Modern Meeting limits the number of attendees.

Only people who are critical to the outcome are invited to a Modern Meeting. Small numbers allow decisions to be resolved quickly and plans to be coordinated smoothly. If invited attendees recognize that they don’t need to be there, it’s their obligation to decline.

4. The Modern Meeting rejects the unprepared.

An agenda is distributed well in advance of a Modern Meeting, and it establishes the decision being debated or the action being coordinated. The Modern Meeting demands you think carefully through all the different scenarios presented by the decision and come up with thoughtful responses. We will call on you. If you are not prepared, do not attend.

5. The Modern Meeting produces committed action plans.

What actions are we committing to? Who is responsible for each action? When will those actions be completed? The Modern Meeting ensures that these questions are answered, and distributes the resulting action plan soon after the meeting ends. It’s the meeting leader’s responsibility to follow up and hold participants accountable for their commitments.If no action plan is necessary, neither is a meeting.

6. The Modern Meeting refuses to be informational. Reading memos is mandatory.

In order to keep modern meetings strictly in support of decisions, informational meetings are cancelled. For this to be possible, managers will write memos instead, but everyone must commit to reading them. In a culture of reading, informational meetings are no longer necessary.

7. The Modern Meeting works only alongside a culture of brainstorming.

The Modern Meeting is about decision, the narrowing of options. Brainstorming is the necessary complement, as it results in the mass generation of options. Brainstorming has to be done correctly, though. It’s an anti-meeting, so the regular rules of the Modern Meeting don’t apply.


How can you incorporate this into your CAB meetings and through this modern meeting standard improve the amount of change you can make happen in your organisation? I’m sure you’d be positively surprised by the results!

1 thought on “The secret to running effective CAB meetings”

  1. Ivanka,

    I was curious about this book–seems short and I suspected there were summaries on the web. Sure enough I ran into your website (again). Thanks for posting this, and thanks for ALL of your contributions to the ITSM community. In one and a half weeks I will start on a new project to transition and Incident Management process and I plan to put these principles into work to keep meetings fast, concise, and efficient.


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