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What is an Action Item?

Action items describe a discrete task that must be accomplished, usually by a single individual. Action items have a limited scope that can typically be accomplished in one to two weeks. The standard format for action items assigned during meetings documents Who, What, and When.

  • Who: ideally one person who takes responsibility for making sure the task gets done.
  • What: a short description of the task. Descriptions that start with a verb work best. For example, "Review the project plan before the next meeting." is clearer and more direct than "The project plan needs to be reviewed."
  • When: the expected date for completing the action item. Specific dates work best. For example, January 12 works better for supporting accountability than "in the next week" or "before our next meeting."
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Related Glossary Terms
Accountability, Who, What, When

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