Why You Hate Meetings and What You Can Do About It (Part 2 of 2)

As we discussed in the last post, the key to keeping meetings on track and productive is in NOT discussing problems the moment they arise, as counter-intuitive as that may seem.  The best way to resolve issues is to put them on a list as they come up and discuss them during a segment of the Level 10 meeting dedicated solely to “IDS”:  Identify – Discuss – Solve.

There are four steps to conducting a good IDS session:

1- Prioritize your issues.  Look at the issues list and identify the three most urgent issues, and number them 1-2-3 according to priority.  By addressing your most pressing problems first, you ensure that even if it takes you a whole hour to solve one issue, you have at least solved the one that was most important.

2- Identify.  Get to the root cause of the issue.  Let’s say the issue you’re discussing is the fact that a key target was not met last week.  First, ask why it wasn’t met.  If the answer is, “Well, it’s because we didn’t get some shipments out on time,” then ask why the shipments went out late.  If that answer is, “Because we were short-staffed,” ask why we were short-staffed, and so on.  Keep asking, “Why?” until you get to the root cause of the issue, then move on to the “D” in IDS.

3- Discuss. Talk about the issue until it’s resolved, but do it without going down “rabbit holes” of endless talk.  There are two rules for discussing an issue:

  • Only one person talks at a time.  Everyone else listens, and no one interrupts with an objection.
  • Everyone gets a chance to say whatever they want to say about the issue at hand, but they only say it once.  Anything more is politicking.  Once everyone has said their piece, move on to solving it.

4- Solve.  Determine what has to be done to resolve the issue.  When you know what the task it, assign it to the person who should be responsible for it, and then hold them accountable for getting it done by asking if it’s done in the “To-Do Review” portion of your next meeting.

Now that we’ve learned how to solve our key issues, let’s look at the full Level 10 Meeting Agenda.

1- Segue (5 minutes).   The segue is nothing more than each person at the table sharing one item of personal good news and one item of business good news.  To some, this may seem like a waste of valuable time, but it actually performs a critical psychological “trick” that helps the meeting go better from start to finish.  By sharing good news, especially of a personal nature, you change your frame of mind in a way that helps you “unplug” from whatever you were doing before the meeting so you can transition from working in the business to working on it.  If you don’t think it’s valuable, do it for a few weeks anyway; then skip it one week and see how things go.  You’ll be sure never to omit the segue again!

2- Scorecard Review (5 minutes).  Briefly review the measurables you are tracking to see how you performed this week.  If a key target was not met, make sure you do not ask why at this point.  Put it on the issues list to discuss during the IDS session.

3- Rock Review (5 minutes).  Have each person who is responsible for a quarterly rock report on whether they are “on track” to complete the rock by the end of the quarter or “off track”, meaning they are behind schedule or otherwise not likely to complete it this quarter.  If a rock is off track, don’t discuss it now; put it on the issues list.

4- Customer/Employee Headlines (5 minutes).  Give everyone in the room an opportunity to let the rest of your team know about any major happenings with customers or employees they should be aware of.  Again, if issues come up, don’t discuss them; drop them down to the issues list.

5- To-Do Review (5 minutes).  This is where you go over the “to-do” items that were assigned in last week’s meeting and cross off those that have been accomplished.  A 90% completion rate is the minimum acceptable.  If anyone is completing less than 90% of their tasks, it is an issue that should go on the issues list.

6- IDS (60 minutes).  Take one hour to resolve issues using the method described at the top of this post.  Again, as you discover the solution(s) to an issue, turn it into a to-do item and write it on the to-do list to be reported on next week.

7- Conclude (5 minutes).  There are three items to cover in the conclusion portion of the meeting:

  • Recap your “To-Do” items and who is responsible for each one.
  • Discuss any “cascading messages.”  This means identifying messages that need to be communicated to lower levels of the company or to anyone not present at the meeting.  Clarify not only the message, but who is responsible for getting it to whom.
  • Rate the meeting.  Each person in the room rates the meeting for effectiveness on a scale of 1 – 10, with 10 being the most effective.  If your average is below an 8.5, then this may be an issue in itself, and failing to stick to the IDS rules or yielding to the temptation to discuss issues the moment they come up are your most likely reasons for dissatisfaction.

If you find you don’t do such a great job at using the Level 10 Agenda right away,  don’t worry!  Don’t give up too quickly.  It can take a little time to adapt to conducing meetings this way because it isn’t always easy to break the bad habits that cause meetings to run amok in the first place.  I have weekly Level 10 meetings with my Integrator, and it took her several weeks to get the hang of it when we first started.  Persevere!  Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish in only 90 minutes a week.

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