Ritualize your business and boost performance
Define and enforce rituals in your teams to boost productivity: Daily, weekly, monthly and executive well-defined rituals will really impact efficiency across your organization.
Companies tend to neglect the power of rituals. It is common to find in our clients situations of non-structured reporting flows, start of the day or shift handover routines inefficient or non-existent or poorly designed review and/or planning meetings.
It should not be that way! Efficient companies organize their routines with their teams with two premises in mind:
a) Short interval control has a high impact on the effectiveness of execution and planning; focused rituals where teams share information and focus on priorities and short-term risks can really help to have all on the same pace and oriented to overall performance, putting the right efforts in the right place;
b) Problems should be addressed at the adequate tier; if you organize the sequence of daily rituals in a way that there is a clear sequence of escalation to all problems and all are addressed at the lowest possible tier/level. Only important problems should escalate up to the C-level of decision making.
How to do it? It depends on your organization, but this broad model can be applied to most departments and most businesses:
1) Daily Stand ups
This fast-paced ritual should be performed at the beginning of every day, with all your team standing up and with the following basic agenda:
a) Last day relevant issues/activities
b) Today’s relevant issues/activities
c) Critical concerns for the day, help needed to better progress.
This can be implemented in IT, finance, operations, maintenance, HR or any other teams in the company. If you have visual management tools in place, link these practices together can be even more powerful. Remember, the primary goal is for all to have the same info, help defining priorities, focus the team efforts on the main critical problems and converge efforts to remove any blockers.
Depending on your department or organization size, you may have consecutive stand-ups; they should start from the lower to higher hierarchy levels, so any problems can escalate and be addressed promptly. For instance, operational teams may have their stand up at 8am, at 8.15 have the team supervisors (only them) stand up and at 8.30 the department head may meet the key staff. No one should be attending at more than two layers of these stand ups
Customize this ritual to your particular need and avoid these 3 most common pitfalls:
Pitfall #1: Too loooooooong; depending on the team size, 5 to 10 minutes should be enough. 15 minutes is adequate only for large teams. More than that and you are missing the point;
Pitfall #2: Problem-solving at the stand-up: Unless for critical problems that concern all, avoid the problem solving during the stand-up that requires deep analysis or discussion. That should be done afterward, and only with the people involved;
Pitfall#3: Fail the ritual. Rituals are exactly that – they should start exactly at the same hour (sharp!!!) with exactly the same format (all standing), with the same structure and, as the name might imply, daily. Do not skip daily meetings – if for any reason someone can not participate, it should happen with the rest of the team.
2) Weekly meetings
Weekly meetings are usually to review the last week performance, plan the next week, identify variances with the last week planning and define corrective actions.
Teams should keep track of their goals, their actual performance, and the reasons for variance. Review and discussion of this performance should happen with short intervals (monthly reviews may be a too long cycle and too late to act).
These meetings should obey two ground rules:
Rule #1: provide info prior to the meeting; meetings main purpose is not to share info, that can be done prior to the meeting, so that the energy and time can be set discussing the content, not sharing it;
Rule #2: Start the meeting by addressing all the pending tasks from the prior meeting. Backlog should be tracked.
Rule #3: at the end of the meeting, be consequent. Define an action plan, addressing a owner for each task and a schedule.
Remember, these weekly meetings should not take more than half an hour.
3) Monthly meetings
This should be the most important meeting of your company/department. KPIs performance should be addressed, adjustments to plan discussed, root cause analysis for main events disseminated and critical highlights for next month analysed.
4) Executive report
Each department should prepare a 2-page report to the board/management addressing the critical KPIs, the financials, the key events that impacted performance and the critical issues ahead. This executive summary should contain all the critical info on these two pages. Any need for further detail will be asked by the board.
Again, rituals should have a strict framework, with discipline and focus. This will improve communication, reduce emails, orient your teams to performance and boost overall productivity.
Go ahead, kill unproductive meetings and implement the proper rituals that will help your productivity and your business grow!