The Monthly Strategic Meeting
As part of our run down on the 4 Meeting structure which really comes out of Patrick Lencioni's book Death By Meeting (also referenced in his book The Advantage) last week we talked about the first two meeting types, the Daily Check In and the Weekly Tactical so lets talk about the Strategic Meeting and why it's critical.
Strategic decisions are, by their very nature, important. So if they are so important why then, would you try and shoehorn them into a hodgebodge of a meeting that's filled with tactical discussions, a myriad day to day topics and sorting out of agenda's ? It makes no sense at all yet this is what a whole heap of really smart people do every single day just to avoid another meeting or to "just get it done"
There are a few great reasons for splitting out these strategic sessions from day to day tactical, for a start your brain doesn't enjoy flipping between tactical stuff and the really deep thinking that should go along with strategic thinking. You would also hope that strategic discussions have had a good deal of preparation and research done prior to having that conversation and if you shoehorn it into a tactical session then it's probably going to be just off the cuff work and more than likely need anther meeting anyway to get into the details or worse get condensed to a 5 to 10 minute discussion followed by either being parked or even worse yet a decision happening with out real understanding of the impacts. In short it's a terrible idea to combine these things into one meeting.
The Most Fun Meeting You Can Have
The Monthly Strategic is the most fun and interesting meeting not to mention the most important you can have in the company, no really it is! Why do I say that? Well for a start you actually analyse and really delve deep into the issues, there should be huge debates and disarrangements about the points of the discussion (this is called tension and it's a good thing). This is where you really get to work on those key things that will impact your business and as a business leader this is where you really earn your keep. You get to just focus on 2 or 3 key strategic items without any distractions of deadlines, meeting interruptions or day to day items.
Frequency and Duration
For the meeting you need to schedule enough time to really dive into the topics so you need to think about the length of the meeting, a good rule of thumb seems to be around 2hrs per topic, that's right 2hrs! that way the team can feel free to really get in deep into the debate and argue the points as they see them.
In terms of frequency you want to ideally aim for a monthly session, certainly no longer than 6 weeks but monthly means that you don't build up too many things on your parked strategic items list from the tactical sessions. If you are not scheduling strategic meetings then then there is a high risk that strategic discussions just wont happen in your company. How many times have you looked back and thought , man I've just goe from fire to fire, this isn't what I signed up for? well trust me when I tell you these meetings really will help kill the fires.
Adhoc Strategic Meetings
There are of course times when you just cant wait for the monthly strategic session to solve an issue, that's Ok, just call an adhoc meeting with the people who really need to be able to weigh in on the and pull it together. Keep it separate from tactical sessions! Think about this point as well, how healthy would an organisation be if it's leaders where clear enough on what's important to know that they need to take time out to pull together this meeting to solve that specific problem now rather than wait for it. How much time ultimately is saved and how quickly can the business react to issues when this behaviour happens?
How to Run The Meetings
Running the meetings aren't hard but like many things there are rules attached to them to do it well.
- Schedule them in everyone calender - if you don't then they wont happen. Block out at least 4hrs to allow 2 topics to be discussed, if you want to add another topic extend by 2hrs
- Let everyone know in well advance the 1, 2 or 3 topics you are going to review to ensure that research is done, this allows for great in depth debate on the topics.
- The leader has to be prepared to hold people accountable for coming to the meeting prepared and , they need to call people out on this one in front of their peers so it's clear that it's being addressed if it's an issue.
- The leader must mine for conflict, that's right it's critical that the leader ensure that there is enough productive conflict / debate happening to really be effective.
- Once everyone has weighed in on the topic the leader calls for a summary and where everyone is sitting on the topic, this is not a vote, it's not those with the most yeah's win this is to let the leader understand the final position of the team but it is up to the leader to make the decision on the strategic direction the company will take.
- Write down what is agreed! once the decision has been made document it so everyone is 100% clear on what was agreed, the expectation is that everyone gets behind this decisions and it's that which is communicated back to the business via cascading communication as soon as possible within the next 24hrs.
The benefits of these meeting should now be pretty clear:
- Strategic decisions get well thought out
- Decisions are actually made then acted upon
- The team are all clear and aligned to the decision
- Strategic items tend to be brought up more since there is a clear avenue for working on them
Like the other meetings we have discussed these meetings will take a little bit of getting used to but the clarity and business pace you get as a result tends to win people over to them pretty quickly and sets everyone up for the final meeting really well, The Quarterly Off Site Meeting.
Get In Touch
If you need any support in developing or improving your meetings then click here to make an appointment and find out how we can help you Make Things, Better
You can also call John on 0211649739 to set up a meeting
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