(This is part 2 of a 2 part article about the Level 10 Meeting. Click here to go back to part 1)
A lot of people think that once they have downloaded the Level 10 Meeting Agenda™ that they’re good to go. The agenda certainly helps, but if you want to use the Entrepreneurial Operating System® to its full effect, you need to learn to use the Level 10 Meeting Agenda correctly.
The EOS Toolbox™ metaphor is an apt one. Sure, if you have a toolbox you could, theoretically, fix a car. But, if you don’t know how to use those tools, you’re mostly going to just frustrate yourself. And maybe lose a finger or two.
That’s why I’ve put together a quick 2-part guide on how to use the EOS Level 10 Meeting Agenda to full effect. I’m not going to lie to you. These articles alone aren’t going to be some magic pill that make the L10 Meetings go perfectly. But, take 5 minutes out of your day to read this, and you’ll be on the path to success.
For part 2 of this article we’ll be starting off at the To-Do List.
Time: 5 Minutes
Description: Go down last week’s list of to-do’s. Check if each is done or not done.
Objective: Maintain weekly progress towards larger goals. Keep an accountability mindset.
During the to-do list portion of your Level 10 Meeting you go down the list of last week’s to-do’s. When you call off a to-do, the person responsible for it reports that it is either complete or incomplete. If it’s complete, yay. If not, we capture it as an Issue to discuss later. It’s that simple.
To-do’s are a deceptively simple aspect of accountability.
The to-do list is what gives your team the power to move from talking about Issues to actually solving them. In the section below on the IDS Process™ I’ll talk more about assigning to-do’s. For now, let’s focus on keeping track of to-do’s.
At the end of every Level 10 Meeting your team will have a list of to-do’s. Each item is (hopefully) one that is a) owned by a single person in the room and b) reasonably accomplished within 1 week. A big part of keeping your Traction® and accomplishing the long-term goals of your company is taking those little, weekly steps that move your towards them.
There are 2 fundamental mistakes teams make during the to-do list section of the meeting.
Not Capturing Issues
If you’ve read Part 1 of my Level 10 Meeting Agenda Guide then you’ve already heard me harping on this. If someone isn’t performing to expectation, it’s an Issue.
Doesn’t matter if the problem is Rocks™ Off-Track, Scorecard™ numbers off, or undone to-do’s. When something that was supposed to be accomplished isn’t accomplished, we capture the Issue by writing it on the board.
Remember, that’s not so we can rail on this person later. It’s so we can figure out, as a team, exactly what is going wrong and how we can fix it. 9 times out of 10, the real problem is that the person responsible isn’t getting the resources they need to accomplish what’s being asked of them.
Believe me when I tell you. Complacency is an ugly beast that will reel its head in your Level 10 Meeting time and time again.
To-do’s are one of the most dangerous places for a team. Assign too few to-do’s and the team won’t accomplish as much as they can. Assign too many to-do’s and you’ll have a team that gets way too comfortable with incomplete to-do’s.
Don’t get me wrong. No team is able to complete 100% of their to-do’s 100% of the time. But, if you aren’t completing 80% of your to-do’s 80% of the time, you’re over assigning to-do’s or simply not holding people accountable.
When a to-do gets reported as incomplete, make sure you don’t leave the room until the reason has been discovered and you’ve ensured it will be done next week.
Time: 60 minutes
Description: The team calls out the 3 most important Issues on the board and begins solving them in priority order, ending each discussion by assigning a to-do
Objective: Identify the Issues in your business and solve them efficiently
I don’t think there is a single topic that I have written about more extensively than the Issues List and the IDS Process. I could go on for thousands of words, I’m sure. However, this guide is supposed to give you the broad strokes for getting a solid handle on the Level 10 Meeting Agenda, not deep dive on any one thing.
Below I’ll talk about the basics of IDS, but if you really want to get the most out of this process, you should check out the podcast episodes and articles I’ve done about IDS specifically.
As I said, no shortage of detailed information on this blog about the IDS process. But, you’re here for the short and dirty version, so here it is.
Step 1: Capture Issues
Issues come from all sorts of places. At its core an Issue is a problem, an opportunity, a bit of news, a barrier, or anything else that is important enough to warrant discussing with an entire leadership team. The “important” is critical. The leadership team may very well be every C-level exec in your company. If it isn’t important enough for their attention, it can be kicked down to a departmental meeting.
The most critical thing here isn’t identifying Issues, it’s capturing them. Every leader can see the Issues, but they don’t get fixed if you don’t keep track of them.
Capture your Issues wherever you can: online shared doc, a whiteboard, a notepad if you have to.
Just capture them and make sure they are available when it comes time to solve.
Step 2: Prioritize 3 Issues
This should be the fastest step in the process. But, it takes time to get used to it, and most teams spend more time on this at first.
That’s O.K. Progress not perfection.
The goal here is to, as quickly as possible, call out the 3 Issues your team is going to solve. You want to call out the most important Issues, not the ones that are easiest to solve. Why? Because if you only solve one Issue today, it should be the most important one.
As these are called out you put a number 1, 2, and 3 next to them. This means you’re going to solve them in that order, the order they were called out.
Step 3: Identify the Issue
Starting with the number 1 Issue (the first one called out), you ask who in the room owns it.
Someone put that Issue on the board because they thought it was important. That person should be allowed to express exactly what that Issue means, so everyone can start on the same page. The person who owns the Issue gives the team a one sentence description of the Issue.
The reason this step is so important is because often teams will see several different Issues within the one on the board. A good example is the parking lot example:
- The team identifies “parking lot” as a priority Issue to solve
- Sarah says, “I called that one out. The parking lot needs more handicapped spaces now that we have expanded our operation.”
- Bob says, “Also, it needs to be repainted.”
- Frank says, “And, we still have potholes from last winter. The whole thing is kinda a wreck.”
What’s going on here is chaos. Everyone is chiming in with new Issues instead of focusing on the one at hand. Sarah identified “parking lot” as an Issue, so her definition is the one that the team needs to discuss. The repairs and repainting are separate Issues. Capture them on the list and get back to solving the Issue Sarah identified.
Step 4: Discuss
This is why we are here. This is why a Level 10 Meeting is infinitely more valuable than a never ending chain of emails. This is the meat, the potatoes, and the desert.
Discussing is how an Issue moves from being something the company needs to deal with to something the company is solving.
Your goal during this step is to efficiently, respectfully, honestly present all relevant information so that a decision can be reached.
It’s important to remember that you aren’t at this table to converse about the Issue. Conversation is what happens when everyone gets to keep talking until they’re finished. Conversation is how a simple flight turns into either a very pleasant trip or a nightmare stuck between two people who won’t stop talking to you.
Discussion works differently. In a discussion you say what you want to say one time. That’s it. You don’t rephrase it, repeat it, or otherwise try to win an argument by not backing down from your point of view.
If you want to express an opinion respectfully, say it once. Anything after that is politics.
Once no new information is being presented, the discussion is over and a decision needs to be reached.
Step 5: Solve by Deciding on a Course of Action
Decisions need to be made. Period. After discussing the Issue for however long it takes, someone needs to make a decision about what exactly the team will do to solve this Issue.
A solution can take many forms, but the most common is a to-do. The Issue gets broken down into something that can be accomplished this week and assigned to one of the team members. next week that team member reports in to (hopefully) say they’ve completed that task. The team then decides what is next.
Here’s where most teams get mucked up. They think “decision” means “consensus”. It absolutely doesn’t. Only two people get to define the decision and if that solves the Issues.
The Decider is the person at the table whose job description makes them responsible for solving this Issue. With our parking lot example that may be the HR person (handicapped accessibility being an HR Issue), the COO (building maintenance falling under operations), or someone else.
The point is that someone is responsible for actually solving this Issue. It’s their job. And, since it’s their job (and we trust them to do it), it’s their decision to make.
The Issue Owner:
Someone put this Issue on the board (Sarah in our case). They get to say if this Issue is solved or not.
This isn’t license to disagree with the solution presented by The Decider. No. It’s the right of the Issue owner to say, “yes. That solution directly addresses this Issue,” or, “no. I don’t think that solution is relevant to the original Issue.”
Time: 5 Minutes
Description: Recap to-do’s, identify cascading messages, rate the meeting
Objective: Ensure nothing falls through the cracks and hold your team accountable for having a good Level 10 Meeting
In the Conclusion you want to accomplish three very important things:
- Recap the to-do’s: Make sure every to-do was assigned to a person and that that person is certain they can finish it in one week.
- Identify cascading messages: The leadership team makes decisions that affect the whole company. Be sure to assign a to-do to send messages out to other levels of the organization when relevant.
- Rate the Meeting: On an honest scale of 1-10 how was this meeting. Anything under an 8.0 warrants discussion.
In Part 1 of this guide I said that the Segue is one of the most underappreciated sections of the Level 10 Meeting. The conclusion is the other one. Why?
First, it’s easy to want to breeze through this section at the end of the meeting. People have places to be. But that’s how mistakes get made and how to-do’s get forgotten. You want your team to leave on the same page, so you can hit the ground running next week. Otherwise, what’s the point of spending the time on these meetings?
Second, teams tend to struggle with rating the meeting when they first start using the Entrepreneurial Operating System®. It’s hard to understand what makes a good meeting. And, teams that get in the habit of just rating the meeting a 10, because they don’t want to hassle with explaining their complaints get stuck in a bad habit.
Encourage your team to honestly rate the meeting. And, if the score is low, empower the team member to express why they rated it poorly. This kind of conversation can draw out Issues that are hobbling the productivity of your leadership team.
For more on rating the Level 10 Meeting check out this article.
That’s it for Part 2 of our Level 10 Meeting Agenda Guide. Read about the first half of the Level 10 Meeting Agenda in Part 1 of this guide.
Finally, if you’re just getting started with EOS or want to brush up on some of the things mentioned in this article, these articles should be of help to you.
- Are You Pushing Your EOS Level 10 Meeting Down The Ladder?
- How To Rate An EOS Level 10 Meeting
- ABC’s of EOS: Level 10 Meeting Not Helping? Here’s Why.
- How To Use An EOS Meeting Pulse – Answered By A Certified EOS Implementer
- The Traction Book Isn’t Working: 3 Mistakes People Make Self-Implementing EOS
- Want Better Leadership Team Meetings? Learn to Solve Your Issues
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.