Execution is about turning your hard-earned revenue (top line income that remember comes from Strategy) into bottom line net profit. Companies that are strong on top line performance and yet struggle to make a reasonable or attractive bottom line profit typically have challenges with Execution – that is being both efficient and effective operationally. In this blog we will cover the principles and habits that John D. Rockefeller used to build an operationally excellent company and which Verne Harnish (Scaling Up and Mastering the Rockefeller Habits) has adapted for mid-market growth companies.
Strategic Discipline Blog
What does an effective quarterly meeting look like?
There are a lot of reasons to not like meetings. This is certainly the case if they are ill defined, lack structure, and are devoid of purpose.
Is the mood in your company for meetings one of anticipation or aversion?
A prospect this past week reacted to the suggestion of meetings by indicating they have to be careful in their organization to mention the word meeting. His people dislike meetings and generally greet them with annoyance and impatience. It suggests that the meetings they’ve conducted in the past are possibly disorganized, not well prepared, unexciting, lack conflict and do little to energize those participating. It’s also a reflection of what I believe many businesses suffer from. They feel meetings are boring, and a necessary evil.
Allow me to reflect on my current condition and place this in perspective. I’m currently suffering from a condition called dry mouth. It’s a symptom of Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD)which can occur after bone marrow transplant for leukemia patients.
Someone once said that a vacation is anything you do that is outside your normal range of work. I guess that means I’m on vacation. At least that’s where I planned to be this week.
The statistic is frightening. 40% of employee’s time is gobbled up by recurring problems! These are the issues that never get solved, the copier that never works, the supply closet item that is always out of stock, the messages that are never delivered, equipment malfunctions. If you conducted a meeting just to determine what recurring problems you have, would you have any doubt your people could provide you with an avalanche of issues?
Last blog we discussed the importance of meetings fitting together. Your meetings should cascade or telescope from the first meeting of the year which should be your annual planning meeting. This should be about 2 – 3 days depending upon what you need to discuss, how complex the challenges are that the organizations faces, and when you last did a proper planning and strategy session.
In many companies one of the worst things that we perpetrate is discarding our victories and highlighting our problems! Too often we are on to our next mountain to climb before we acknowledge those who have helped us reach the heights. We need to do a better job of adequately celebrating our victories and those who were accountable for them. The Thin book of Appreciative Inquiry describes the benefits of recognizing what you are doing right. More recently the book Switch emphasized the importance of highlighting “Bright Spots” as integral to discovering solutions. Strategic Disciplines quarterly meeting intends to correct this oversight.
Every company talks about it, yet not many make the commitment and follow through. That commitment is to training. The monthly meeting is a structured, consistent discipline for training when following the agenda we suggest.
There’s much more to the monthly meeting agenda, yet if it can accomplish one dedicated hour to improving your team’s education and learning it can reward your business many times over with improved efficiency and performance.
The Monthly Meeting should be held as soon as possible after the Financial Results are available from your Accounting Department. One of the most important aspects of the Monthly Meeting Cycle is to see how the organization is performing financially – in actuality – against Quarterly Priorities and Metrics.
The other primary aspect of the Monthly Meetings Rhythms is to spend some quality time evaluating progress on the Quarterly Priorities – and making decisions on any Corrective Actions that need to be taken, should performance not be tracking with the progress needed to deliver on all Accountabilities to the Plan from each SPA (Single Point of Accountability) – The WHO on the Who, What, When Accountability List.
When we speak of Mid-Course Adjustments, we are speaking of precisely that – WHAT is your Corrective Action to get your Accountability back on Plan? While there may be explanations offered in this environment, there can be no excuses for failing to deliver on one’s accountabilities to the Plan.
You will also want to devote time to one or two lengthier subjects of either Strategic or Tactical/Operational Issues. Pick an item or two which need an immediate and a wider level of discussion or discovery -- usually something that is taking shape as an Obstacle or a Chokepoint – and drill down on the subject, with the intention of advancing solutions to remove the obstacle or the chokepoint, before it begins eroding or affecting results.
This Meeting should run about 1-2 hours, and no more. Maintain focused discipline in managing the timeframe, and make every minute together count.”
Here’s our suggested agenda for the Monthly meeting:
15 Minutes - Review Priorities and Last Meetings Actions.
Every day, depending on the area you live in, you see this universal symbol telling you when to stop or go. As part of Strategic Discipline we expect our clients to provide metrics for their company, team and individual performance. It’s a part of the weekly meeting agenda. That might seem sufficient to provide accountability, yet when conducting meetings we feel it’s important to dispense with the numbers as quickly as possible in order to get to the meatier topics that can help the business build momentum. The metrics need to communicate quickly whether success is being achieved or there’s work to be done.