Not Discussing List

In Not Doing List we look at how using #NDLs can help teams win back time together and reallocate those hours into more import work. The book shows leaders how to teach their teams the NDL concept, even if they are not the direct manager of the team.


Below is a quick tip from Chapter 14: Build high performing teams with NDLs.


Use a "Not Discussing List" to get more out of team meetings


We've all walked out of meetings and thought, "wow, so-and-so really derailed what we were trying to accomplish" or "can't believe we spent half the meeting talking about XYZ." We need fewer meetings like that. Your NDL can help.



Decide what you will NOT discuss before the meeting starts. Provide a list of what the team should avoid digging into. This will help your team drive the right conversations, frame the right problems, and target solutions.

This concept is similar to a “parking lot” for ideas during a meeting. However, a "not discussing list" clarifies in advance what you and your team won't burn time talking about in the meeting.

Of course, we don’t want to squander risks or opportunities or diminish staff engagement. But if you know your team may get off track, lose focus, or go down a rabbit hole, then let’s help them.

Try this:

  1. Put an NDL out there for the meeting as part of the broader agenda. Clarify that this meeting is not the place to get lost or go off topic. Name the off-limit topics up front.

  2. Open a shared note during the meeting. If off-limit topics come up, ask team members to jot down their thoughts on the shared note. This will make everyone feel heard. Commit to them that you all will look at those items at a later date and in another setting.


This keeps the flow of the meeting centered on the important challenges you’re trying to solve. This will help you and the team use precious meeting time most effectively and run fast toward solving harder problems.

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