With Feb. 2 less than a week away, I couldn’t help but think of “Groundhog Day,” the classic Bill Murray movie from 1993.
But there was something else that reminded of the film, and it was more than just the fact that both Punxsutawney Phil and a major blizzard were on the way. It was that déjà vu feeling I had while sitting in a client’s strategy meeting.
Why did I feel like I was re-living the same strategy meeting over and over and over again? Because no matter how hard most organizations try, they can’t talk strategy without talking about everything else.
Do you know the meetings I am talking about? They go something like this: Agenda topics are requested via email a week in advance so that anything anyone things is important, gets on the agenda. Participants are all in “receive mode” because speakers prepare 30 slides (of eye charts) per topic and talk for 30 minutes each. Occasionally, someone asks a question, but only to show how smart they are, not about anything important. No important decisions are made and no follow-up actions are assigned. When everyone leaves the meeting, they all have a separate opinion about what happen and there’s no record to convince them otherwise.
Well, I can confirm that you are not alone. And, I can give some quick advice to help you avoid feeling like Bill Murray, helplessly stuck in the same meeting day in and day out:
Design your agenda around your organization’s strategic goals or objectives
Limit “updates” to 1 slide per topic
Require that a decision has to be made on every agenda topic
Provide at least two alternatives to consider per decision
Send a read-ahead (the slides) out at least 24 hours (preferably 48 hours) ahead of time
Have a person responsible for recording all decisions that are made and make sure the group agrees what the decision.
Record all action items and assign a person responsible for it
Begin the next meeting checking on the status of last meeting’s action items
These eight simple steps should help you run a much better strategy meeting. Hopefully, you won’t wak up to Sonny & Cher, too.