Want Better Leadership Team Meetings? Learn to Solve Your Issues
I want to start by dragging the ugly truth into the cold, hard light of day. According to interviews by the Harvard Business Review only 5% of leadership team members think their company had a rigorous system for keeping their meetings focused. 12% believed their meetings regularly came to effective decisions, and further research revealed that 80% of time was spent on aspects of the business that accounted for less than 20% of the company revenue. With numbers like that, it’s easy to understand why so many executives want better leadership team meetings.
How to make meetings more productive? Throw Out The Topic Based Agenda.
Being tied to a meeting topic based meeting agenda is like…well being tied to anything else. It’s limiting. When a team member schedules a meeting specifically to announce a decision or present information, that’s when you need an agenda, because you want people to stick to this one topic.
However, when you want to leadership team to make decisions efficiently and collaboratively, you don’t need an agenda. You need a process.
Successful Leadership Teams Solve Issues
Rather than focusing on keeping to an agenda, successful leadership teams focus on what the most important issues is at that time. Out of the many approaches to doing this, I tend to recommend the Entrepreneurial Operating System’s (EOS)® Identify – Discuss – Solve approach. We use it so much that we just call it IDS’ing™ an Issue. I start with the most critical issues of the day and discusses them until either a) the issue is solved or b) some outside action (collecting information, for example) is needed to proceed, in which case a member of the team takes responsibility to follow up.
Step 1: Identify
Knowing when an issue needs to be solved isn’t the hard part, but it is the most important. Sometimes a team member says or does something that immediately creates an issue. For example, when someone says, “I can’t finish that task on time.” Other issues have been around so long they’re almost accepted as normal, like a blatantly inefficient production process. Often an experienced leadership team has a list of issues that they bring to every meeting with the goal of some day scratching every last one of them off.
Instead, start by choosing the the 3 most critical issues of the day. Look over the list for a moment and, if there are strong opinions on what needs to get solved right now, start with those.
Step 2: Discuss
Discuss is not an ugly word in the Entrepreneurial Operating System. A lot of leadership team members and executives see the term as synonymous with “talk about” or “don’t actually do anything”. That’s not the case, when discussion is conducted efficiently.
In a healthy leadership team the members are able to openly share their opinions and information. Let that happen. Let members debate. But, when members start repeating themselves, it’s time to make a decision.
Like Gino Wickman says, “If you say it more than once, you are politicking.”
Step 3: Solve
Solve the issue in a way that is actionable. Your leadership team won’t 100% agree 100% of the time. That’s normal. You are solving critical issues in a way that everyone can, at least, live with. That’s how you get better leadership team meetings, through generating solutions.
The Best Solution Is The One You Act On
EOS is a process, and processes don’t leave tasks half done. After a solution is decided on, choose a team member to be responsible for that solution. Remember, if more than one person is responsible, no one is.
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Whittle & Partners is a consulting group that provides EOS™ Implementation in the United States and beyond. We offer in-person and online solutions to fit your business and schedule.Visit our about us page to learn how and why we love bringing Dallas Traction.
Jeff Whittle is a Certified Dallas EOS Implementer.
Meet the Founder
Jeff Whittle founded and launched Whittle & Partners in 2011. Before that, Jeff practiced law in Dallas for 15 years and has an additional 20 years of executive business experience. He has run businesses ranging from startups to 300-employee operations.