Documentation: A Cure For Meeting Déjà vu?

Documentation can be used to break endless loops on decision making. I have been in situations where I've attended the same meeting for months. I mean beyond the fact that it happened at 10 am on each Tuesday. Each gathering contained practically the same content discussed in a previous meeting and they normally go down something like this ...

- Agenda includes a topic like, "Update On Virtualization Issue"
- You think that we have clarity on that thing we talked about three months ago
- Meeting facilitator then starts to outline the problem
- You think they are doing a recap like "On a previous episode of Lost"
- The first few comments start coming in from around the room
- Your head starts to spin a bit and you think you are experiencing "Déjà vu"

and you are ... but not the cool freaky kind that goes so well with that equally freaky music that starts each episode of X-Files. It is just that this project has been going on so long (or is so troubled) that half of the team has been replaced since it was last discussed.

Fast forward to another approach.

- Agenda includes a topic like, "Update On Virtualization Issue"
- It also says to review the Meeting Notes From "__-__-____"
- It also says to review the "Virtualization" section in the System / Subsystem Design Doc
- It includes links to the SharePoint address for each
- Facilitator brings up both documents in the meeting room projector
- The first words they utter are "Here is the new information we have about "