Episode 20 – The Growth Whisperers
The Growth Whisperers is a weekly podcast hosted by Brad Giles and Kevin Lawrence two advisors to mid-market businesses, one Australian, one Canadian, who each work with CEOs and Leadership Teams across the world with a mission to build enduring, great companies. Each weekly episode covers interesting situations and questions from the world of strategic planning, leadership development, talent and hiring in high growth entrepreneurial companies where real results matter.
How to make weekly meetings more effective
Brad & Kevin discuss how leadership team weekly meetings erode and how to get them back on track. They also talk about tips to make weekly meetings work better.
The COVID Hammer and Dance
Kevin and Brad talk about the original model about the COVID pandemic and how the current situation aligns with the original model, and how to prepare your business for the next stage.
Kevin Lawrence – Lawrence and Company Growth Advisors
Brad Giles – Evolution Partners
YouTube – The Growth Whisperers
Episode show notes
Kevin Lawrence 00:13
Hey, welcome to the growth whispers podcast where every thing we talk about is related to helping leaders and their teams build enduring great businesses. Those that are businesses that continue to grow, serve their communities that they care about and thrive for everyone involved. For a long time, hence the word enduring. I’m Kevin Lawrence. I’m joined today by my co host and in every episode, same co host, Brad Giles, how you doing today?
Brad Giles 00:37
I am fantastic. Kevin. Absolutely fantastic. Went to the football yesterday in a big event, big stadium. It’s good to be out amongst the people.
Kevin Lawrence 00:48
Yeah, I got an offer a motorcycle ride today and rode up to see a friend in another city and kind of rebuilding some of the social stuff that we used to do. Yeah, interestingly, sometimes I was a bit too busy and didn’t do enough of it. But I telling you, man, we’re people out like the parks up I went up from we’re on white rock up to a place called Squamish on the way to Whistler. Lots of people would have heard of Whistler, but like cars parked on the side of the highway, anywhere where people could go It was packed. Yeah, nice. People out enjoying themselves. So hey, what do we got today on the podcast?
Well, interesting. We’re talking about a couple of things, but talking about dancing. And we’re also talking about meeting weekly.
Kevin Lawrence 01:33
Yeah, two things the weekly dancing meeting,
something like that. Yeah, so something interesting. So let’s get into it, shall we? So why don’t we go first? What is it about the dancing?
Kevin Lawrence 01:47
So I remember this, this great guy. I know, his name is Brad Giles. And he introduced me to this model of something called the hammer on the dance, you know, early in this pandemic, you shared with this model, and I was like, wow, you know, this is really interesting. We’ve, we both have shared it with our clients and explained it and it’s how, when the virus comes along, it rises, you know, governments, you know, react and shut it down and make everyone you know, say quote, safe or keep it from spreading. And then as they relax, it kind of starts to sneak up again and they shut down again, snake. It’s just like, you know, it’s almost like that whack a mole game that you kind of play at the carnivals. Right? where, you know, you’re like, I gotta keep knocking it down, knocking it down. And, and then model they said the dance could continue for, you know, 18 months or longer. And it’s interesting because we’re in it, and not just in to the country to the south of me that that is has a pretty serious desert got a dance party going on down there. If there’s there’s a lot happening. But it’s in pockets, it comes up, it comes down, it comes up comes down, and we have little pockets in Canada. And you know, and you guys are having a similar expense, I believe. No, Melbourne in the state is Melbourne. It’s in Victoria. Is that correct?
Yeah, that’s right. So Melbourne’s had an outbreak fully locked down. Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Don’t leave your house. You can’t go out in public without a mask and they go say 10 o’clock in the morning on a workday. There’s not a soul on the streets.
Kevin Lawrence 03:15
I heard, is it Melbourne or someone’s you need a permit to go out? It’s extreme.
Brad Giles 03:22
Yeah, well, that’s Australians. Right. We tend to be extreme when it comes to safety. And I guess that’s, yeah, just it’s just born years of biosecurity. It’s just drummed into us. It’s right. It’s kind of just Well, we got to lock down that’s what we do. It’s the way we think and New Zealand I guess, to an extent without speaking for them Auckland’s they had a really severe lockdown. And they, they have what was it? I think they had like 30 cases in last week. They had 100 days maybe or, you know, a really good run without any cases. And then it just popped up came in through, I think it was allegedly through frozen fright. The virus got in and infected some workers at the freight facility, and then they spread it through they so now they’re just sort of, yeah, hammering, hammering that’s the wrong word. Now they’re squashing that that little issue.
Kevin Lawrence 04:21
So what would you recommend people are doing with it? Because it like it’s uncertain times, although the certainty is that the uncertainty will continue. Yes, things are still gonna happen.
I am not an epidemiologist. Asterix by any means. Yeah, I mean, I guess I would be thinking that. We’ve had this phrase initially called we’ve got to flatten the curve, right. And we know what that looks like. There’s a there’s an increase in numbers and we want that to come down and just spread it out further, but the hammer in the dance is a different way to think about and that is, they’ll be an initial first wave, and there’ll be subsequent things. But it’s the little it’s, the whack a mole, as you described it, and knowing that that will continue to happen for the foreseeable future. And, and so, yeah, I think that not thinking that it’s over not thinking that there can’t be second waves. I mean, we’ve seen that you know, through predominantly the US, there’s been some, you know, some great examples of how things can pop up in an area. So, just thinking that you know, there’s no reason that it won’t continue to pop up around the place. And they’ll be outbreaks, and that might affect businesses. It’s been terrible for Melbourne businesses, as an example, here in Australia, where we had the first lockdown for I guess, a couple of months, and then now we’re coming back to life. And they were like, okay, we’ve, we’ve controlled it, and it’s been good. But then the, what it seems to have been is that within the hotels, the quarantines where people would come from overseas, and they’d quarantine them in a hotel for two weeks, would really lapse and is one of the examples I saw is that they tell
Kevin Lawrence 06:18
you relapse. What do you mean? What do you mean by that?
For example, they would take them in an ambulance to the emergency department to get a test at the hospital in a quarantine ambulance, but then they’d have to make their own way back in an Uber or a taxi or a family car. I know. And this is probably tested positive, right? No, no, really, really that. So that’s how the outbreak in Melbourne an example of what happened. And they had private security guards instead of the Defense Force. All this is allegedly, and it’s emerging.
Kevin Lawrence 06:54
People just aren’t used to doing this kind of stuff. Yeah. And there’s gonna be in fairness to the people, there’s gonna be 100 different links in the chain to make those things happen. And they missed what I was, I was talking with a friend this morning from the Middle East. And we’re talking about improving processes in company and you know, one things you have to look at as you build a process, you assess the process, and you figure out the weakest link. Yeah, over a period of months and years. These people are having to do this stuff quickly. And it’s, I feel for the people in the middle some of the stuff, it’s got to be so stressful, really stressful. So if we bring it to businesses, I mean, my thinking is, you know, another CEO is talking to on Friday, I did a talk to a bunch of CEOs and one of my new give me a call after and we chatted for a few minutes. And he’s like, I can’t see this changing for a couple years. Yeah. Like so. So basically, if this is going to be our version of a new normal, we just know we’re gonna have to remain flexible and nimble and be able to adapt to it and hope that the scientists come up with some great solutions for us. But it’s a predictable surprise that it will probably continue to be worded. We have to be flexible, eyes wide open. And I think from a company perspective, just don’t drop your guard.
Well, don’t it depends. I think it depends on the cities. Clearly. We’re more in Australia as an example. We’re more tolerant of lockdowns then some other countries. No. But if, if your business is going to lock down again, if it hasn’t already, what does that mean? And how are you going to deal with that?
Kevin Lawrence 08:35
Strat plans for clients we’ve been having clients to come up with, okay, let’s learn from the last one. If it happens again, what are we going to do different? And how are we going to handle it better, because we did our best then. But our next best should be better. So we’re building it in for many of them into our planning to just so we are prepared.
And that’s the thing to understand about the dance, it’s coming, it’s going to happen. It’s this whack a mole for the coming. We keep saying 18 months. It’s a nice time frame. I look back on the weekend. And I was on something I wrote or was talking about in March. And it was the general thinking then was hopefully by June 30. We should be through this thing.
Kevin Lawrence 09:16
So yeah, 18 months it sounds nice, it’s a nice thing to almost is a reasonable thought to have. And it could be five years.
Brad Giles 09:28
And the point there is that don’t be holding your breath. Look, you’ve got to have an old model that will produce cash through the dance. And what that means is when you are locked down or when there’s a flare up in your region or when it’s okay and you can go out and that’s really, really tough for some business models.
Kevin Lawrence 09:53
It is in our business model. We’ve got two particular things. We have a team meeting that we’re having a team retreat beginning of October. And for the coaches on our team or the people on our team that are local, we’re going to meet in person, but we got a couple guys in other parts of the world. And one of them for sure is going to zoom in no matter what they’re not gonna, they’re not going to join. Yeah, and but we have technology and tools to be able to do that. And, and even one of my team had a new prospect of the wanting to work with them in the US. And they said, as long as we can design the engagement that we can plan on being remotely and if we ever happen to get to be face to face, that’s a nice bonus, so engineering, the expectation around it being virtual as the way we’re gonna do it no matter what. Yeah. You know, and but we have easier model to do that in some models for management. So and they also another we want to talk about the weekly dance, meaning the weekly dance class.
Yeah, no, I think we’ve covered it. Just be aware for business owners that we are in the dance and be prepared.
Kevin Lawrence 10:59
Exactly. Yep. And 18 months. Sounds nice. But it may not actually be the reality. You know, here’s so many different things around vaccines and what they actually might be able to do versus what people want them to do. And so much their time will tell. All right, well, the weekly meeting this, you and I talked, this is one of the things that we not only get asked about a lot. But we I find I get asked about it by the same clients again and again and again. Yeah, as they’re constantly refining how and the question is, how do we make our weekly meetings more effective? Yeah, no, one CEO had a perfect solution. He goes, don’t have them. Because for him, he just got fed up, he was just like, this is so painful. why don’t we start with the problem? Why, like, what ends up happening that makes weekly meetings, from your experience, and I’ll share some of mine. Painful or not creating of a lot of value. And then we’ll talk about, you know, what’s actually supposed to be and how to do that with lots of different ideas. So yeah, what’s the what causes the rot in the rot in the foundation of an effective meeting, particularly a weekly team meeting, whatever the team is?
Brad Giles 12:23
I guess, before they develop the disciplines, let’s think about that for a moment before they develop the different disciplines that we talk about, how about too many companies come together? And what they’re talking about is simply operations. So how is account x going? Have you made that sale yet? And what about this situation or this problem? So it’s all operational stuff, they’re not really talking about any of the priorities within the business? And certainly not working on the business, in my experience? And so to your question, I think that a lot of people a lot of the time, mainly focused on, I don’t know, they’re mainly focused on operations, and then they tend to go back to that they drop things off their agenda, and they go back when they’ve tried to do it in the way that we kind of advocate. And then they go, they drop back, right? It’s if there’s if they’re meeting number one, there. Yeah, they’re just talking operations predominantly.
Kevin Lawrence 13:35
A tactical operational. Other things that I found is it becomes less of an update meeting. And it’s a go around and listen to each other and bore each other to tears. Yeah, you know, an email you could read in a minute, or 30 seconds is a 15 minute presentation. also seeing that nothing actually gets actioned. We talk about stuff. Yeah. And it’s almost like a chitchat. A lot of stuff around boredom, like not engagement. Interestingly, it really screws up the health of the teams.
Brad Giles 14:17
Kevin Lawrence 14:18
because you end up setting this rhythm like that doesn’t necessarily set a rhythm or an energy around performance. key issues aren’t getting debated, and you’re not actually using the brains of the people. You’re this great strategy. Hey, let’s get all of our people together for an hour a week and bore them to tears and then send them on their way and hopefully do well.
Brad Giles 14:39
And that’s because someone thinks that they should and they’ve heard that, you know, meeting regularly is important.
Kevin Lawrence 14:47
Or if they have a good intentions, there’s no malice in it. Yeah, but it’s, running meetings is a very sophisticated skill. Yeah. is not an easy skill. And interestingly, you know, if you just kind of show up and draw up, they don’t go, Well, good meetings require preparation. Yeah, you got to already think about it and think ahead. You know, it’s and it’s not like, we generally run meetings for a living, that is what we do. So that’s complicated meetings, but still, you know, the hundreds of hours of thought that we have put into just that. And the difference is, for some people, they haven’t, because they got a business to run, they haven’t had time nor resources. So we’re not judging them for it, because it’s hard. But it’s, it’s, it’s some of the most expensive utilization of resources in your company, because you’re bringing a whole bunch of people’s time together at once. You’re not just burning one person’s time, you’re burning seven, or 14 or 36. people’s time. It’s so I empathize with people.
Brad Giles 15:58
Yeah, it is. I come back to that your point on preparation, because I used to kind of look at it and say, Well, what if each person and I actually put up a significant part of the chapter within my book on these? Now, what if every meeting that you went to you spent the same amount of time in fact, everybody spent the same amount of time preparing for the meeting as they were in the meeting? So you go into one hour meeting it? What have you prepared for one hour? Right now that that may seem extreme to some people.
Kevin Lawrence 16:31
But if that was your most important hour of the week, you might consider that
Brad Giles 16:41
if I’m going to do a one day workshop with a client, which is effectively a meeting for one day, it is I will spend the day preparing for that.
Kevin Lawrence 16:53
It’s, a lot of work, even if you have the system, you got to go back and review your notes like so for example, I’ve got a meeting clients in India. Great guys. They’re like my three Indian brothers. worked with them for years. And but you know, like we, we have a meeting coming up. And I’m supposed to have a three-day meeting in Delhi, which I’m not going to, but we’re going to do most of it virtually, which will mean, I will get to experience timezone and jet lag, but being in my own timezone. So I’m going to start working at 9pm, and then probably go to midnight or 2am, it’ll be fine. But the point of it is, is that we don’t we’re more than a month out. We have a systematic agenda every time and we are a month out. We’re already starting to work on the agenda. We had a call this week, I started to draft the agenda, the key points we’re going to talk about, yep. And we’re doing some 360s for some key people. So we’re confirming the system for the 360, which we’ve done before, we’re going back and re looking at everything recrafting the agenda, they’re then going to go and put together the documents. So they have all the documents prepared, because it’s a pretty substantial business. And there’s a lot to look at. So we got all the documents prepared. Yeah. And we’re and we’re already not only setting the agenda, figuring out the discussions, because a lot of it’s just me and the three directors, strategic discussions. And it’s a little bit of work with a team. But we’re laying this out. I’ve got another example of a client, we got a two day meeting coming up this week. You started preparing for it a month ago. Yeah, you’ve had three meetings on the agenda. I got another couple hour meeting with Tim on my team tomorrow to work through all the logistics and the details and triple check everything because we got 24 people. Yeah, for two days on zoom. It better be damn good.
Brad Giles 18:39
The quality, the preparation equals the quality of the output. So with it is like that back if we didn’t translate that back to a weekly meeting for leader. If you’re going to have a weekly meeting, let’s say nominally for one hour with your team. Is it too much to ask that you prepare for that meeting for one hour? And if you aren’t, yeah. How much better would the quality be?
Kevin Lawrence 19:08
Well, and I might say like, so I have a weekly meeting with my team. Yeah, I have one for 90 minutes. Every week, every Monday night. And, you know, it’s interesting, because before I went on holidays, I wasn’t preparing. And, and because I was scrambling and kind of rolling up to the meeting, and let’s give her and one of my team members said something to me about this. He said, Kevin, it’d be great if you’re a little more prepared. And I said, feedback. Take it because I got loose on I know that I gave this up. I know it, but I got loose on it myself. And for me for that hour and a half meeting. I knew if I do 30 minutes of preparation, I am more than prepared. Yeah, because we have a set agenda. I know what I’m going to do. And we have we talked we even in that meeting. We have 20 minutes. Learning every week for the team, by the way, 20 minutes every week, you know, the whole team is getting a little bit smarter. But so for me, I can do it in 30 minutes. Now I run meetings all the time. Now, would it be better with 60? Potentially? Yeah, and I don’t know if I can get myself to do 60 minutes for an hour. But I do like the thinking.
Brad Giles 20:19
That’s the point. It’s, so that’s theory,
Kevin Lawrence 20:22
I guess that’s to make it also if you make it for a lot of the CEOs, or anyone we work with, if you make it way too much prepper It ain’t ever gonna happen. Yep. So I would say is as much preparation as you need to know that the meeting was excellent.
Brad Giles 20:41
So what I’ve typically done with that said, like, that’s a that’s a best practice. Or put another way, if you would, if you were to, as I said, if you were to prepare for the same amount of time of the meeting, it puts into context, the people who are completely unprepared, if you are just rocking up to a meeting and saying, okay, team, what’s going on? And that’s it. It kind of sets an outer boundary to say, well, you’re doing zero preparation at the moment, if you were doing the same quantity of time as the length of the meeting. You know, there’s a big spectrum in there that you’ve got to improve as a leader.
Kevin Lawrence 21:25
Yes. So no matter what, just rocking off, Hey, how’s it going? Not acceptable? Yeah, you’re going to be under utilizing wasting company resources and the talents of your team. And I just want to be careful bread, though, because some people could prepare very well, in five minutes. They could, and some people will need an hour. Yep. So it’s, it’s just really about what needs to happen. And you’ll know, you’ll see the quality of the meeting based on your prep. And as a side note, by the way, in the training that we do, like training and teaching, it’s between 10 and 20 hours per hour. Yeah, to build content, you know, and make it really work for the right audience. Even my, my keynote, which I deliver all the time on your oxygen mask first, I have one on scaling up as well. I still spend an incredible amount of time preparing before every single one.
Brad Giles 22:19
Kevin Lawrence 22:19
And no different than actors memorizing their lines before they go and shoot. So I think it’s important that you do the preparation need for the meeting to be excellent. Yep. And that’s creating value incite people moving ahead. So. So we started with preparation. The other piece illustrate that we’re talking about the things that make a difference, and we’ll start with the intent. Like, overall, what is that meeting supposed to accomplish? Aside from, you know, boring people and burning an hour of their time? You know, which we don’t want to do? What do you How would you describe what is an effective weekly team meeting supposed to accomplish?
Brad Giles 23:02
I think it’s, it’s supposed to realign people, number one, and more than that, realign people around the quarterly priorities. So it answers the question, are we on track for this quarter’s priorities? Are my peers on track to achieve this? quarter’s priorities? So we are now let’s say for 13th of the way through the 13 week rates race, which is a quarter, are we on track to achieve all of the things that we’re going to do so it’s about creating peer accountability within the leadership team? It’s about knowing where people are at unsticking any stocks for one of a better term, this read regular pulse of a touch point to make sure that things that we said are the most important things at the quarterly off site strategic planning meeting are going to get done in time for the next quarter, because generally they have a 90 day time frame. Yeah. And what about yourself, is it?
Kevin Lawrence 24:06
Well, it’s kind of like it’s kinda like a sport team that you practice to stay in sync that you know, the players already know the plays, but you got to keep practicing. You got to keep in sync. So I think Yeah, realigning people, as you said, realigning on the most important things of the goals and the accountability there. It’s almost a reminder. Yeah, I’m unsticking and I and I also believe in in in just healthy debates, like the meeting should be half discussion and debate, whether it’s around stocks or other issues, because then you’re leveraging your brains and you’re creating alignment. Most teams have a huge debate deficit, huge debate deficit. Yeah. And as a result, they don’t function. Well. There’s all these built up tensions and clutter in the minds and the relationships of the people. Um, and that’s what that’s where it’s supposed to happen if you have and I really push it hard in the companies that we work with and it makes a massive dent Because issues start to get resolved, and then you’re building trust and things move faster. It’s so whatever it is, let’s put our brains together and with our internal team, we do all those things. And we learn something together every week. Yeah, like, that’s part of our, you know, business to help us all stay sharp. And it’s that’s, that’s not for every team. That’s, you know, we’re a real, you know, learn and grow type. I mean, we’re learning grow organization. Yeah. So we were making sure we’re drinking our own Kool Aid. But that’s not I don’t think it’s a requirement. It’s just our, our particular flavor.
Brad Giles 25:37
So, we spoke before about what our weekly meetings before we kind of begin to introduce these disciplines. But what our weekly meetings go wrong. Any thoughts on that?
Kevin Lawrence 25:51
Well, one, they don’t have an agenda. Yeah. To them, they don’t have a sense of timekeeping. Like they don’t they, so the right amount of time doesn’t go into the right thing, they almost never get to the debate, from what I have seen.
Brad Giles 26:05
Kevin Lawrence 26:06
people aren’t prepared, decisions don’t get made. You know, it’s, it’s just a, it’s more of a talk. It’s kind of like, you know, having, you know, long grass in your backyard, if you don’t take care of it, it turns into a big weed festival very quickly. And the weekly meetings just get really weedy and messy and you got it, you got to really stay on. It’s like a living, breathing organism that if you don’t take care of it, it all of a sudden, it’s not in great shape.
Brad Giles 26:38
And it just erodes trust, like that’s the output of a bad way clean meeting. It’s funny. So the first thing that you said there, it was funny, because that will be my first thing as well, which was agenda. So number one, the most important thing is you’ve got to have an agenda. And the agenda, the discipline of the agenda is what kind of holds it all together. So many times your clients talk to me in this, they’re saying, How can I make my weekly meeting more effective? And, and having an agenda is really one of the most important things? And what are you plugging in there? So what is it? What are some of the non negotiables? Do you think for a weekly meeting agenda?
Kevin Lawrence 27:20
I mean, I have a pretty strong view on it from what I’ve seen. And again, it also has timing, but not surprising. And I know you do too. But it’s, you know, about five minutes to talk about wins or accomplishments like what’s the good stuff? Yeah, I’m laying out what we would call stucks. As you use that term, or brutal facts, what are things that are in our way of accomplishing our goals and structure brutal facts in context of our goals? Yeah, one of the things and flushing those out upfront, not addressing about flushing those out. And then let’s review. How are we doing on the numbers? How are we doing on our goals? So numbers being financials or KPIs, whatever you’re looking at every week, but ideally KPIs because they kind of point to the future? And how are we doing on our goals and a quick review of how we’re doing on company level goals? Yeah, and then from there, we’re doing that review, then it’s the debate time. And it could be one of those stucks that’s come up. Or it could be another topic, we’ve decided in advance, but you should be able to take a full review of all those things in the business and, you know, 20 to 25 minutes. Yeah. And have, right, it’s still at least easily half an hour to an hour to discuss other stuff, depending on how long you’re locked to it.
Brad Giles 28:37
So one to two hours is what I just heard. I think you said it. Yeah,
Kevin Lawrence 28:40
I would two hours is too long, I think 90 minutes, Max. Yeah. Yep. And the rule of thumb is if you go past 90 minutes need to take a break.
Brad Giles 28:49
Kevin Lawrence 28:50
Fair enough. So 60 to 90 minutes for most, for most people. Now, if you’re just getting going, it might take longer as you kind of get used to going through the agenda. Or you might have a special meeting goes longer, but that would be ideally 60 to 90 minutes.
Brad Giles 29:04
Yeah, mine is, is fundamentally the same with a few slightly different things. So I would be having each person go through their two KPIs. So am I red or green. And that could be from the gut, or it could be from real data, depending on the sophistication of the system, or the time of the month, some things we can record that well. And then each person’s got three to five priorities. They’re working on some teams use okrs. They’re very interchangeable in my perspective, but really going through each of those. And for each of those, again, what’s the status? Am I red or green? And then this thing I use
Kevin Lawrence 29:42
So company and the individual goals as well?
Brad Giles 29:46
Well, the company goals are owned by a person. So they’re going these three to five for the whole company for the quarter. Yeah, their own webpage. So they got you’re talking about the
Kevin Lawrence 29:55
three to five for the whole company, not the individual three to five.
Brad Giles 29:58
Now I’m talking about the three to five For the individual. Yeah, so
Kevin Lawrence 30:03
let’s clarify that. So okay, so do we do company goals? Yes. Will there be three to five of the company? And then those kind of break down, so that there would then be three to five for each of the leaders or key people in that meeting? edition?
Brad Giles 30:19
Yeah. So if priority one for the whole company was let’s build a new office in a new suburb, somebody would be accountable for that. So yes, it would be replicated on that person’s individual three to five priorities. So they’re going through each of those. And then what I get them to do is to say, last seven, next seven, right, so currently, I’m red. What I did in the last seven days on this was, I engaged the builder, what do I need to do in the next seven days, I need to, I don’t know. Pay the first check, or whatever it is. But the point is around that. I just over many years, I just found it really hard to get progress where people weren’t trying to avoid and we weren’t trying to micromanage these kind of two areas. Yes, we don’t want the leader to be micromanaging people, I but we don’t want the people to be ignoring the priorities and getting to the end of the quarter and saying, as we’ve seen so many times, look, I just got too busy. Or I had other priorities, or my team didn’t do what I was supposed to or whatever. So
Kevin Lawrence 31:28
I like that last seven. Next seven. Yeah, I do those on monthly meetings, where I’m like, what you described is what I would often do in a monthly which we, we can do a quick monthly without other strategic discussions in that same time, where I have everyone goes through their individual goals at the monthly. Yeah, and then saying, Okay, what are you going to do in the next month? To make sure it well, what are you going to do this week to make sure you’re completely on track this month? You know, sometimes there’s some ketchup involved. But that’s, that’s similar to I but I do like that, that last seven, next seven on a weekly, that’s a great way because people are making their own decisions, you’re not telling them what to do. Now, they’re just sharing your plan. And that’s, that’s great. Yeah, an environment of autonomy. Yeah, I like that.
Brad Giles 32:14
And so in a perfect theoretical world, at the beginning of the quarter, they would have mapped out 13. Weekly advance, but people, you know, that’s best practice. Some people do it, some people don’t do it. And they’d kind of build a checklist around that. And so it’d be well, I’m in the perfect conceptual world, and to be where we’re at for week four. Last week, I did what I said I was going to do in week four, and next week, I’m going to do my week five. But that’s, you know, for the nerdy project manager type. That’s fine. The point is, as a habit within a leadership team, tell me, what did you do in the last seven days on that? And what do you plan to do in the next seven days? And you can’t ignore that question forever, it forces accountability. And that’s what really matters, ridership team. And if we get all of the leadership team to do it, it drives peer accountability as well, because I said,
Kevin Lawrence 33:09
you sign it. And it’s also a helpful reminder, like, sometimes we don’t even need accountability, we need reminders, because people get lost. Yeah. And that’s why, you know, that’s the value of reviewing these things every week. So while we share some other things that we’ve seen different things people have done, that have really helped weekly meetings, and made them work in different places, I’m just kind of thinking through different things. What else have I seen, um, there would be some one where the CEO would provide a bit of an update of what’s going on just kind of sharing, you know, a little bit more of just hate because they’re not, it’s their chance, if it’s a CEO and exec team, yes, their chance to share what’s happening. I’ve had other ones and often were part it’s part of the KPIs. But if they’re doing a big project, where there’d be a quick update on that big project. Yeah. So when they’ve been rolling out customer satisfaction systems, or, you know, something big. And it might be one of the company level priorities. But still, someone might come a project manager type and give a three to five minute overview.
Brad Giles 34:20
So what you’re talking about in each of those examples, if I look at is what we might call collective intelligence. So if I look at what I, I guess what we would have interpreted to be best practice generally, within a weekly meeting, it’d be good news. So some kind of icebreaker, use that example. Going through the priorities and the numbers as we’ve just discussed, and then maybe customer and employee data or feedback. So some kind of the
Kevin Lawrence 34:50
if they have it that frequently, yes,
Brad Giles 34:52
yep. And then collective intelligence is the next one and that step. So that’s really looking at a domain Nemec or that’s, that’s some kind of point in the meeting where we’ve got, let’s say, 15 to 30 minutes, where we can talk about what is the big issues that we’ve got to cover off? And like I said, it could be Yeah, give us the update on them on the major project, or how do we resolve the issue with customer x or employing y or whatever that might be?
Kevin Lawrence 35:24
Yeah. And what I call that claim intelligence, it’s it’s the pre planned, and it’s sort of the in the moment decision. So that would be the project manager would present this thing would be pre planned, or they’re really vacationing,
Brad Giles 35:37
that you saw the really important thing, they said, there is all the decision makers in the room, right? And you don’t get that very often. So what where do we need to make a big decision with all of the decision makers in the room?
Kevin Lawrence 35:51
Correct. The other major thing that we’ve worked on not only in weekly, but also in monthly and quarterly meetings, is when someone’s coming to present giving them constraints, you’re one of the organizations I work with the head of marketing comes to present. And the head of marketing is probably not in the right seat is not in the right seat. And it’s a long presentation. And it doesn’t really say a lot. People just like to make long presentations. So I now have said on the agenda, you have 10 minutes to present. And then we’re going to spend five to 10 for questions normally would take an hour. Yeah. And so managing time effectively. And we use timers a lot. Like we have timers for things. So we got this two day session 24 people coming up this week. And we got timers like crazy. Yeah. Because people almost think that they’re not doing their job, if they make a seven minute presentation,
Brad Giles 36:49
they haven’t gone into level of depth that the leadership team may want,
Kevin Lawrence 36:54
that they have all kinds of things. And yet I find if you tell someone, you’ve got seven minutes, they can actually make their point. Yeah. And and and, you know, I’m a little more impatient by nature, but by giving parameters around this, so when that that the person comes to present around the project, it’s literally a five minutes. Yeah. And make your points in five minutes, two minutes for questions. And when we do that, and some clients are better at that than others, it makes a huge difference. So not only time management, the other thing that I’ve seen really helps. Again, not all clients do it, some do, but is pre work and pre reading. Yeah, like if we’re going to come and we’re going to discuss so for example, I’m on an advisory board that I’m on, I keep pushing them, give me all the docs up front, so I can read them before the meeting. And then we can go through the financials in probably 15,20 minutes. Yeah, not an hour and a half. Because we can all read fast, and then ask her questions. And same with a weekly meeting, if we’re going to discuss a new policy, a new deal, a new joint venture, give some money to one person, take the time to write it up and share it and everyone can read it in five minutes and be ready to go.
Brad Giles 38:06
So yeah, timings is so important. One of the things I hear so often, each person’s going through their KPIs and their priorities. And they say that we just can’t do that briefly. It takes forever to do that. And I’m, I kind of respond by saying, well, well, if you go through law seven, next seven, if they tell you the color, what else is there is it
Kevin Lawrence 38:32
and there’s no time for the story or the long winded explanation or the telling them about their drink yet. It can be done.
Brad Giles 38:43
if the ownership of the list is transferred. If the CEO thinks that they own it, they’re going to dig, dig, dig, and they’re going to make that list bigger than been heard. They’re going to talk about it and talk about it. If it’s a status update from an owner, it’s a completely different thing up because I trust you, you say you’re going to do it, I’m going to step back, maybe ask a quick probing question or something like that. I don’t think you know, and then you’re going to be able to achieve it.
Kevin Lawrence 39:15
Yeah, so last thing I’ll share and we’ll share a couple more ideas. We’re gonna wrap up here fairly quickly. One of the companies that I work with when we have each of the companies in a quarterly meeting, each of the departments presents how they did on their three to five priorities. Yeah, we give them eight minutes. And then we have two minutes for questions.
Brad Giles 39:34
Yeah, I guarantee
Kevin Lawrence 39:36
it’s a half-hour presentation if we don’t give me eight minutes, and there’s six of them to do. So we do not want to be spending two or three hours now. It is critical stuff. So in one hour, we cover every single one off including questions. Yeah, it’s very efficient, but if you don’t pre think it and you don’t pre plan it and you don’t pre give them that. It doesn’t it’s kind of challenging. So any other things that you You seem really have helped weekly meetings.
Brad Giles 40:03
Yeah, look, I guess just broadly sticking to the recipe is the thing, okay, sticking to what works, and not getting distracted, maintaining and discipline not getting distracted going back to what you used to do. The human brain doesn’t like discipline the human brain, like it is lazy, it wants to find the easiest part. So it will, naturally you’ve got to let these habits really stick over time.
Kevin Lawrence 40:33
This structure. It’s a discipline, like brushing your teeth. There’s a way to do it. And you don’t have to get innovative without your molars getting cavities, which is almost like if your weekly meetings not working, you need to get a bit innovative. But normally, you know, it’s if it’s about realignment, focus on goals, troubleshoot any issues, and then some debates about other important stuff. It’s not rocket science.
Brad Giles 41:01
Yeah. All right. So in closing agenda, you’ve got to have an agenda. Yes. 60 to 90 minutes is best practice an agenda
Kevin Lawrence 41:11
with outcomes, like what the desired outcome is? Yeah. And timing. So if someone’s coming to present, what do we want to have happen at the end of the presentation?
Brad Giles 41:25
And the decision that we want to make to that point. And don’t get distracted by operations, don’t let one person take over all of those kind of things. There’s some of the best practices. Well, what an awesome, quick chat we’ve had today. Talking about dancing and weekly meetings, and yeah, it’s been it’s been good. So thank you, everyone, for listening for watching. It’s been a good chat. This has been the growth whispers podcast. I’m Brad and my co host here, Kevin. So for the video version, you can go to YouTube or obviously find us wherever podcasts found, and you can find myself at evolution partners.com.au and Kevin, at Lawrence and co.com. Thanks for watching.
Kevin Lawrence 42:17
Have a great week.