After the first two highly appreciated articles on the topic, on the primary dysfunctions, here, and on the organization for the meeting, here, I now spot the light on the main types of meetings as they are most used and on how to create predictability through rhythm.
There are 4 main different kinds of meetings, from the most to the less frequent, and they are: daily, weekly, monthly, periodical (quarterly or annual).
It is a short, daily (of course!) usually managed in the first hours of a working day (be careful when people in the time belongs to different timezones) of about 15-20 minutes.
In the literature, during this meeting, the team takes care of answering at 3 main questions: what did I do yesterday? What will I do today? What difficulties could I meet? The goal is that by focusing each person on the answers, a shared knowledge of what work has been done and what remains to be done is created. But take care: it is not a meeting to know what is left behind, but rather to have a strong commitment and transparency towards the completion of the activity.
What does commitment mean? And what is the difference with involvement? The story of pig and chicken tells us
One day a chicken and a pig decide to get together into business opening a restaurant. They were sad of working for the farmer with no satisfaction. The pig asks: “what could be a proper name for the restaurant?” The chicken thinks and after a while says “ham and eggs.”
“Oh, no” says the pig. Doing like that I would be committed while you were just involved.
It is very important for this meeting to prepare ahead of time on any potential issue so that it will be relevant to the whole team. The aim is to tackle tactical issues and review goals to understand if they were scored, overestimated or underestimated, and learn from experience how to adjust them.
Because potential issues to be expected is a very important topic, focusing on not so great things, a good preparation foreseen:
- start for 5-10 minutes talking about things went well and very well in the past week,
- share results to understand the situation, for about 10 minutes,
- focus on clients, situations, partners, and colleagues for 15 -20 minutes to have a more holistic vision,
- focus on the most needed activity, for about 20 to 30 minutes,
therefore a weekly alignment meeting should have a duration between 50 and 70 minutes.
The duration varies from 1 to 3 hours and depends on the progress already made and the number of activities to be completed. Better to have this meeting in the morning, possibly on Monday, so as to maximize the accumulated energy of the weekend. On Fridays, when these meetings are usually planned, it is the least advised day: the energies have been consumed during the week, and therefore there is not an optimal energy level for this important task.
Along with this meeting there are the comparison and shared experiences on the most relevant elements of the month, no more than 3-4 subjects and objectives well explained in advance, so as to give people time to prepare on the different topics. At the end of each goal, leave to people 5 minutes of free-tech: smartphones, emails, messages, so that the next hours flow with concentration.
Obviously, the objectives of the following month must be defined in the last part, together with the way to measure them.
Periodical – quarterly/annual
This meeting is at high-level strategy and serves to set objectives for the quarter. Better to keep it outside the company to get a different feeling from other meetings. The duration is about half a day, from 4 to 6 hours.
The organization’s business must be seen in the long term. The strategy is reviewed, what worked, what did not, and how to improve. Talks are focused on teams and individuals (I’ll talk in another article about feedbacks). Objectives of the quarter are reviewed and those of the following are set, making them measurable. Furthermore, it is necessary to group the objectives to have a precise check on the current status every month. This meeting is the only one of the four to be less structured, where it is preferable to speak freely and in a more informal way, to facilitate the flow of new ideas.
No powerpoint, nor presentations. On the other hand, the time dedicated to this meeting is important, and it is better to live it lightly. It is very important to celebrate already achieved goals.
For each type of meeting, there is a preferential way of management, which is better suited to the expected topics and attendees; these ways are: scrum, Rockefeller, holacracy, and Kanban.
Why do we talk about rhythm? Because the rhythm is defined as:
timed movement through space
allowing by definition the creation of predictability thus maintaining strategic momentum of your practice very useful to the whole organization.
Highly adopted in production and development teams, as it keeps contact and continuum with the workflow and what needs to be done to reach the goal at foreseen times in the process. Timing is very short, making it flexible and adaptable to multiple situations.
It gives structure to the planning of the meeting, giving it clear and evident boundaries of sharing. The frequency and results of this type of meeting are fixed, ensuring excellent attention and connection from annual to monthly meetings. The result of the meeting must be matched and certain, in established timing and moment, with given boundaries.
It is used to make the teams and people accountable, committed, and to enable them to make decisions. It removes unnecessary layers of management that companies set based on old paradigms, approaching the purpose of the company to that of people. It starts from the idea that it is people who create a product that knows what is suitable for the product and how to better develop it, rather than certain decisions are taken by people with higher levels of responsibility but with little practice on the actual production process.
It focuses on the continuous improvement process, with no stops, with no fixed working time (such as Scrum) with a constant and continuous delivery, and detailed attention to continuous improvement through observation. For this reason, the rhythm set according to this practice is changeable and adapts to the situation, fitting the flow with no certain timings but certain tasks completed, following the process; despite the product to be created being small or large, complex or simple.
The secret to long-term, sustained business growth requires considering your business as a continuous cycle of continuous development and improvement and not as a series of well-executed actions. The challenge is finding a way to focus on executing the opportunity at hand well, creating a plan for the one that just appeared and being on the lookout for the one that’s just over some step forward.
The answer lies in creating a series of healthy rhythms that repeat over and over, intersect at certain times and connect people throughout the organization.
You need one for strategic thinking. The Think Rhythm suggests you maintain a regular cadence of working on the future of the business. Build time into your routine for ongoing conversations about your long-term strategy, your market position, the impact of changing technology, your competitive advantages and what your core customers need. Find ways to build time into your flight path every week, every quarter and every year.
Another one for execution planning. The Plan Rhythm requires you to take time out every year and every quarter to identify and reprioritize your opportunities, determine success criteria and create execution plans. Once this rhythm is established and becomes routine, everyone in the company will become more productive because their energy will be focused on the top few priorities that can move the company forward. Quarterly planning is key to connecting everyday execution at all levels of the company to long-term strategy.
Finally, one for having the work done. The Act Rhythm consists of weekly and daily habits you establish that will allow your team to make necessary adjustments as they execute the plan and achieve success. This includes things like visible dashboards, weekly meetings, daily huddles, and collaboration tools.
The only way to have a great year is to have four great quarters, one quarter at a time, and the only way to have a great quarter is to have 13 great weeks, one week at a time.
It is important to understand how to split sharing moments and by what objectives. For these reasons, here reported rhythms have a great impact on the day-by-day work. It all depends on the company organization, the problem to be solved, the type of people involved.
In the next article, I’ll tell you how to facilitate a meeting depending on attendees’ profiling. Are you curious? Then follow me!
In case you’d like to share opinions, or going deep into a topic, write to me an email to: contactme [at] enricocarollo [dot] com or write your sharing in the comments below: that space is yours!