Meetings are where team goodness should happen, but meetings these days tend to be awful. I’m in the midst of a series on better meetings. I started with how to split different topics into weekly, monthly, and quarterly meetings. Then I dove in with detailed instructions on running a great weekly meeting. Today, I’m onto the monthly meetings—what I call the Business Builder meetings.
Monthly Business Builder Meetings
On a regular basis, your team needs to pull out of the operational detail of working in the business and spend some time working on the business. This is the opportunity to take the car into the shop and change the tires or tune the engine. This meeting likely requires a half- or full-day each month.
The objectives of your monthly Business Builder meetings should be:
- identify opportunities to increase the capability or capacity of the team;
- address any barriers to successful execution;
- monitor progress and course correct on ongoing projects; and
- align around and action plan.
Preparing for Success
The secret to having a highly productive Business Builder meeting is the preparation. First, create an agenda with the topics, owners, and required value add (e.g., issue identification, solution development, etc.) Then ensure each agenda item has a sponsor. The sponsor ensures that the facts and information required to support an effective discussion are distributed in advance. If a guest will come into the meeting to present, the sponsor is accountable for the quality of the presentation.
Roundtable (60 minutes)
The Business Builder meeting is a great place for a roundtable discussion, but unlike the roundtable in the weekly operational meeting, this one answers different questions. Team members should highlight mid- and longer-term priorities, opportunities, and concerns. Keep the roundtable to about 5 minutes per person and chart any topics that need to be addressed more fully later.
Project Monitoring and Updates (30-90 minutes)
The Business Builder meeting is your forum to review the portfolio of projects your team is working on and to address any concerns. If you’re in the midst of implementing a new IT system, an update should go out in advance and then any issues or questions can be addressed during the meeting. As always, the secret is to only use time on the agenda if there is value the team needs to add on the issue. If everything is on track, there is no need to use meeting time.
Enabling Functions (30-90 minutes)
Enabling functions are valuable to have on the agenda of a Business Builder meeting. When Human Resources wants to do a talent review or when Risk wants to work through your heat map to develop action plans. The key to getting value out of these discussions is to let your partners know that you want information in advance and a focus on discussion in the meeting. The sponsor of each presentation should help the partner articulate what they need from the team and review any materials that will go out.
New Opportunities (60-180 minutes)
The final category for your Business Builder meeting is new opportunities. This is a catchall term for any issue that your team needs to address to enhance the efficiency or effectiveness of the team, department, or function. Topics might include: how do we evolve the forecasting process to improve accuracy; what can be done to improve product knowledge at the front lines; or how do we reduce lost-time on the manufacturing line? This section is the guts of the Business Builder meeting as the team brings it’s full value on how to make the organization stronger.
Meeting Wrap-up (30 minutes)
When there is 30 minutes remaining in your time together, stop. Review and summarize the action items and determine which ones you want progress updates on at a future Business Builder meeting. Take a moment to identify any longer-term topics that would be appropriate for the quarterly strategic meeting. Finally, agree on communication messages and how they will be shared.
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