Now that January is over and the rest of the year is kicking in, it’s worthwhile taking a moment to think about how you stay on top of strategy execution along with regular operations.
Call for agenda items
A common problem occurs when teams get together on a regular basis, usually monthly. The leader asks someone to put out an email asking for agenda items. What comes back is an agenda that is somewhat scattered.
Now, the topics being placed on the agenda are all sound; they represent current priorities as seen by the various members of the team. The problem arises when the urgent items push out the important items. Further, the important items increasingly fade into the background. Then, somewhere down the road, consternation kicks in when special projects aren’t being completed on time.
What to do
Agenda management may sound like the most boring topic on the face of the Earth, but when you think about how much time people spend thinking about time, you start to realize where old-fashioned methodologies such as Roberts Rules and parliamentary procedures came from. Without a bit of structure, there can be lots of talk, but not a lot of action, and not a lot of action on the right things.
So, do yourself a favour and create a recurring agenda structure for your team. The topics will be the same month after month. Structure it by your balanced scorecard and treat it like an ongoing dialogue on how well you’re executing your strategy. This will simplify the whole “monthly meeting” thing and ensure that everyone is focused.
For most people, you can start with your Financials and give it fifteen minutes or so. It may be presented by your Controller or Executive Director or Bookkeeper or whomever is most knowledgeable. This will cover your year-to-date results and, most importantly, in context with what your objectives are for the quarter or year. The point is to highlight any off-track areas and trigger the team dialogue on what the problem may be and what needs to happen collaboratively to get things back on track.
Then, your second agenda item will be Customer (or Stakeholder or whatever is the right word that reflects who it is your organization is trying to satisfy). Same thing as above: what are your current results against your objectives as measured by your scorecard metrics. What are you going to do about it, if anything needs doing?
Thirdly: Internal Business Process. How are your current unit costs (e.g., cost per order), cycle times and quality of outputs? This inside-out view of what your customers are telling you outside-in is central to your operations. Much of your SWOT analysis will focus in here.
Finally, Learning & Growth: are you continually setting yourself up for the future? How is the culture responding? Engagement? Investments in training?
Each of the above areas will likely have one or more initiatives/projects underway to help achieve your established targets across your scorecard. So, having special projects presented on a regular basis at your team meeting isn’t separate in your agenda, but part-and-parcel of your ongoing operational results.
Stop sending out notes asking for agenda items; that’s a waste of time. Let people know that they will be expected to speak to their respective areas on a regular basis, operational, tactical and strategic.