This blog is an adaptation of a speech Wellington Security Systems President, Gene Earhart, gave at the DMP Round Table event in San Diego in February 2019.
A quote from Patrick Lencioni on meetings: “Your meetings should be passionate, intense, exhausting, and never boring.” Are your meetings that good? Heck, is date night that good?
Our meetings used to be awful. Unproductive and boring. I’d come to accept that meetings were a necessary evil where we wore ourselves out discussing the same issues over and over without resolving them and moving our organization forward. It felt like Groundhog Day and we were all Bill Murray.
Our company started by working on having better leadership team meetings. We implemented the Level 10 meeting from the book Traction by Gino Wickman. It’s called a Level 10 because at the end of the meeting we rate each meeting on a scale of 1 to 10. We want all our meetings to be a 10. What makes for great meetings is solving problems. Real problems. Water cooler, elephant in the room problems. The kind of problems you go home and complain about to anyone who’ll listen. Those are the ones we’ve learned to hunt down and solve, forever.
In addition to solving problems we check on the health of the company, make sure we’re working on the most important stuff, and maintain a healthy organization. How? Implementing the following L-10 agenda is a great place to start.
We start with a 5 minute segue. We go around the room and share one personal and one professional highlight from the past week. This helps transition from working in the business to working on the business. The segue also helps create and maintain team health as we get to hear what’s going on in everyone’s lives.
Next, we review our scorecard. The scorecard includes 5 to 15 of the most important numbers that make sure we’re on track to achieve our goals. These are “fingers on the pulse” numbers that also help us make sure the company is healthy. For this part of the meeting, we are in reporting mode. If a scorecard item is off track, we add it to our issues list to be processed later in the meeting.
Next, we review our rocks. Rocks are the 3 to 7 most important things that must get done this quarter to make sure we achieve our annual goals. These are defined and prioritized by the entire team on a quarterly basis. They are read aloud and the person accountable for the Rock says they are either on or off track. If they are off track, we add it to our issues list. Again, we are in rapid reporting mode and don’t discuss why a Rock is off track (yet). By adding it to the issues list we know if it’s important we’ll get to it later. This keeps the meeting focused and prevents us from going off into the weeds.
After Rocks we have 5 to 10 minutes for customer/employee headlines. Here is where we share customer stories and feedback about our staff. These are typically positive stories about something one of our staff did to please a customer or co-worker. We create a to-do to make sure at least one person from our leadership team gives them a pat on the back. This goes a long way to creating a positive and healthy culture.
Next, we review all action items from the previous week’s meeting. To-dos are 7-day action items. Reviewing action items every week creates accountability. To distinguish a Rock from a to-do, remember that a Rock is a 90-day priority while a to-do is a 7-day action item. We quickly review each item on the To-Do list from a standpoint of “done” or “not done.” If the item is done, we strike it from the list. If it’s not done, we leave it on the list for 1 more week. If it’s not done in 2 weeks, we add it to our issues list. Most or our issues drop off the list within 2 weeks.
A to-do list, Rocks, and a scorecard create accountability and focus in a way we’ve never been able to accomplish. We are now focused on the stuff that moves the business forward and having it appear for all to see creates accountability. Nobody wants to let the team down.
IDS (Identify, Discuss and Solve)
Next, we tackle our issues list. This is where great meetings happen, by solving all our key issues. On average, about 3 to 5 issues will be leftover from last week’s meeting. During the reporting this week, you’ll likely add some new issues. Usually there are anywhere from 5 to 10 issues on the list. We start by ranking the top 3 in order of priority. From there we follow the Issues Solving Track (we’ll cover this in the next blog post). As you solve issues, you’ll likely create action items which will be added to the To-Do list. This is where your meeting should be passionate, intense, exhausting, and never boring. Imagine solving most if not all your “water cooler” issues, forever!
Concluding the Meeting
Lastly, we conclude the meeting. This is where we make sure we’ve captured all action items and each one has a name next to it to create ownership. We ask if anything needs to be communicated to the rest of the organization and then we rate the meeting from 1 to 10. If the meeting is rated less than a 10, the facilitator asks for feedback so we can improve future meetings.
Having better meetings has been key in moving from a business spinning its wheels to one with traction that’s achieving its goals.