Parking Lot (Car Park)

A visible area to help track important items, ideas, questions, and issues that may not be important to discuss at the time, but the group does wish to discuss later.
Contributed by

Matt Takane

Published July 21, 2020

What Is Parking Lot (Car Park)?

A visible location in a room or virtual whiteboard that looks to capture any type of topic that is not important to discuss at the time, but deemed worthy to discuss later by the group gathered. Is a means to capture the thought and intention so that it is heard and understood, and then placed somewhere so that it is not forgotten and followed up on at a later time.

Why Do Parking Lot (Car Park)?

Many groups of people getting together tend to go off-topic or the purpose of the discussion is in danger of being derailed. Whether the discussion is a single meeting or part of a longer workshop or series of conversations. To ensure the intent of the discussion is met, a Parking Lot is a way to capture the "off" topic/idea and then continue on. By doing so, you are more likely to achieve the main purpose of the discussion and have followup items to think on and discuss during any remaining time or in subsequent discussions. You have also looked to ensure that each individual in the group is heard, understood, and not forgotten in their contributions. When used to foster open communication and not where ideas are ceremonially dismissed, you will see increased inclusivity and open collaboration for the main topic, while also generating important insights to discuss later.

How to do Parking Lot (Car Park)?

  1. Agree on a visible location to capture topics to discuss later

    • Physically Present: Use a space on a wall and post its to capture the topics.
    • Remotely Present: Use a shared document everybody can see/access onscreen during the discussion.
  2. Agree as a group how to go about identifying and capturing the off-topic items

    • Anybody at anytime may identify a topic as being off-topic and should be captured. This sparks a majority rules discussion on if it is off-topic or should be resolved immediately.
    • You add your own idea to the Parking Lot (or rotate who is the scribe).
  3. Allot some time at the end of the timebox to review Parking Lot items to determine what the appropriate next steps are for them.

    • 5-10 minutes is a good starting place, but depends on the amount of items captured.

Facilitation Tips

  • If possible, have the Parking Lot in a place that is frequently visited by the people gathered (virtually or physically)
  • Recommend identifying a key person to either own each Parking Lot item or can speak on behalf of the item's intent
  • Do not designate a single person to capture all the Parking Lot items.
  • During the meeting have your eye on the Parking Lot items to see if any are resolved naturally through the remainder of the timebox and call it out when it happens.

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