Excerpted from the book: Business Execution for RESULTS, by Stephen Lynch
When I was a boy who dreamed of becoming a fighter pilot, I tried to learn everything I could about jet planes. That’s when I heard about flameout for the first time.
A flameout is “the failure of a jet engine caused by the extinction of the flame in the combustion chamber.” I’ve never seen a jet engine flame out, but I’ve seen a lot of flameouts in business. You probably have as well.
We’ve worked with several clients who started out all fired up about their BHAG, their quarterly Strategic Projects and their KPIs. But when we checked back with them, all that energy was gone and not much had happened. They flamed out.
Just like a jet engine, those companies lost thrust. They stopped moving forward toward that BHAG, toward achieving RESULTS. Over the years, I’ve learned that there are two main reasons why companies flame out.
Some companies flame out because they lose focus. They start “chasing squirrels” and spreading their energy over many less important things than the Strategic Projects they’ve agreed on.
Other companies just get tired or try to take on too much, and as a result they fail to do anything well. Achieving your BHAG isn’t easy, or everyone would do it. It takes hard work, and sometimes that wears people out. This kind of flameout doesn’t happen all at once.
First, someone decides that “just for this week” he or she won’t work on their Strategic Projects or update their KPIs in their dashboard. They are too busy fighting fires and doing busywork. Then it happens again. Soon, that individual (or that company) isn’t moving things forward at all.
There are also situations in which a person is “in the red” on a KPI week after week, month after month, and nobody does anything about it. That sends the message that good performance isn’t important and, after a while, performance slacks off.
The answer? Meetings!
I know that meetings get a bad rap. People hate them. They think that meetings are gigantic wastes of time. In 2011, Harris Interactive surveyed more than 2,000 workers about status meetings, and 70 percent said that status meetings don’t help them accomplish their work.
A Microsoft survey tracking office productivity contacted 38,000 workers around the world to identify “productivity pitfalls.” Respondents reported that two out of every five days on the job were wasted. The main culprit: “ineffective meetings.”
It doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, if you want to become a great company, you have to hold productive meetings if you want to achieve RESULTS. That’s what this section is all about.
Meetings can help you be more productive, not less. They can actually save you time instead of wasting it.
The Five Ps of Productive Meetings.
Every productive meeting has a purpose. Participants should know what the meeting is for. The purpose should be worth pulling people away from other productive work. It should be something that can be best accomplished by a group of people working together at the same time.
Preparation is one key to productive meetings. Your dashboards should be updated and every attendee should come prepared to share their perspectives in order to achieve the purpose.
Productive meetings have a clear process, defined by the agenda. It should describe how participants will accomplish the purpose. I think you should have a standard agenda for every recurring meeting.
Productive meetings are characterized by the participation of everyone present. People should be at the meeting because they have something to contribute, and participating is how they contribute.
In a productive meeting, everyone should make progress. They should leave the meeting better off than when they entered and have more clarity around what everyone needs to do next.
Those guidelines should hold for any meeting you call. But there are three specific meetings that you can use to drive execution and productivity. They are the Weekly Team Meeting, the Daily Team Huddle, and the One-on-One Weekly Meeting.