Archive for the ‘Meeting Rhythm’ Category

In 100 Words: Dear Meetings,

Monday, May 1st, 2017 by Troy Schrock

I love you, I love you not…

Time we share together can be so energizing when we are engaged and collaborative. Good ideas flow and build. Conversations are relevant. Debates are healthy. There are clear decisions and follow-up. I want to see you again!

I must confess, though, much of our time together is a waste of my precious time. It’s maddening to experience glowing screens of distraction, conversations without preparation, and boring report-outs. I simply can’t go on meeting like this!

Tell me, am I alone in my feelings? I beg you, can we rejuvenate our relationship?

Yours Truly

“There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.” Friedrich Nietzsche

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In 100 Words: Key Practice of a Level 5 Leader

Thursday, May 1st, 2014 by Troy Schrock

Alan Mulally’s upcoming retirement as CEO of Ford Motor Company is big news these days. All organizations, not just those in the automotive sector, should take note. Mulally’s leadership in turning around Ford highlights a key Level 5 Leader practice he, and the executive leaders, used to take Ford to the top of the industry.

A tight weekly executive team meeting (Mulally’s BPR – Business Process Review) was implemented to drive both business plan execution and building a strong leadership team. Candor, along with accountability around data, virtually non-existent in past Ford culture, have paved the way for consistent business performance.

“Running a business is a design job. You need a point of view about the future, a really good plan to deliver that future, and then relentless implementation.” –Alan Mulally

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Practices of a Level 5 Leader

Thursday, May 1st, 2014 by Troy Schrock

Alan Mulally’s upcoming retirement as CEO of Ford Motor Company is big news these days. All organizations, not just those in the automotive sector, should take notice. Mulally’s leadership in turning around Ford highlights a Level 5 Leader (a leader who places the success and results of the organization ahead of their own individual accomplishments and legacy). Here are some key practices he, and the executive leaders, used to take Ford to the top of the industry.

Most significantly, or simply, Mulally used a tight weekly executive team meeting (his BPR, or Business Process Review) to drive both business plan execution and building a strong leadership team. Candor, trust and accountability, virtually non-existent in past Ford culture, now form the foundation for the executive level leaders. With that foundation, a deliberate focus on data culminated in a dramatic turn-around (2007 – 2009) followed by years of consistent business performance.

Second, Mulally created a simple vision for the organization, repeated that vision all the time and didn’t change the course even when people outside were constantly looking for the next “new plan”. His view was, we have the right plan and we’re still working on implementing it.

Third, Mulally focused the organization back on the customer. Significant money was invested in new product development and quality initiatives even during significant cuts to operations. What mattered to customers was appealing designs, good fuel economy and cars that didn’t break.

Fourth, Mulally simplified the business. Ford reduced the number of brands (auto name plates) down to two. They also reduced waste and redundancy in operations by coordinating design, engineering, quality and manufacturing efforts across the entire global organization.

Mulally’s final step will be completing a deliberate and orderly succession. Here is a link to a recent article highlighting the transition.

For more in-depth understanding, see the book, American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company by Bryce G. Hoffman.

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Debrief Like a Fighter Pilot

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012 by Troy Schrock

I am fascinated by the U.S. Military practice of systematic debriefing.  Geoff Colvin writes in Talent is Overrated:

“After any significant action, in training or in combat, soldiers and officers meet to discuss what happened.  They take off their helmets – a symbolic action indicating that ‘there’s no rank in the room,’ as [Colonel Thomas] Kolditz says.  ‘Comments are blunt.  If the boss made a bad decision, often it’s a subordinate who points that out.’  The session isn’t about blaming; instead, it’s ‘a professional discussion,’ as an army training circular puts it.  Part of its strength is that it yields very complete feedback.”

Wow.  Does your organization regularly run debriefs like that?  Think of the professionalism it requires.   Think of the discipline it demands.  Think of the trust teammates must have in one another to engage in that exercise.

Think of the results it must get.

If you don’t already, get in the habit of objectively reviewing successes and failures with your team.  Regardless of outcome, it’s important to pay attention to the decision making process that led to your present situation.  Remember, bad process sometimes yields good results, so unless you’re willing to debrief like the military, you may never catch your mistakes in order to fix them.

For more on this, you might be interested in Afterburner, a corporate training company led by fighter pilots that helps organizations implement the disciplines of flawless execution.

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Strategic Retreat? More Like Strategic Advance

Monday, November 1st, 2010 by Troy Schrock

This is the time of year for annual strategic planning sessions.  Business leaders are pulling their executive teams together to map out a strategy for the coming year.  “It’s time for our 2011 strategic planning retreat,” they’ll say.

Retreat?  Do we really have to call it that?  I know the strict definition of the word, but its connotation bothers me. 

The business world frequently adopts terminology from the military context.  We say things like, “It’s time to launch a marketing offensive,” “We’re ready to unleash an all-out assault on the market,” or “We’ve been in hunker-down mode for the last year.”  In fact, even the term strategy originates in the military. 

From that standpoint, retreat is a negative word.  It’s synonymous with withdraw, relinquish, and concede.  Is that the way you want to be thinking as your organization plans its coming year?  I don’t think so. 

It’s time to retire the strategic retreat.  From now on, lead your organization on a strategic advance.  It’s time to advance your purpose and achieve your goals.  Assess your current position, identify the target, and push forward.  That’s what you really hope to do, so call it what it is.

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Actionable Focus

Friday, October 1st, 2010 by Ellen Bryson

By the time he was 39 years old, John D. Rockefeller was the richest man in the U. S. and controlled more than 90% of the world’s oil flow. Want to know the secret to his success? He understood the power of focused and disciplined behavior.

Rockefeller understood that priorities were essential for maintaining focus.  He knew that he must always know and understand what his most impactful goals were for the week, month, quarter, year, and beyond.  He met with his executive team on a daily basis. His team understood that their strategic priorities were their most important work and they developed the discipline necessary to successfully execute. They cultivated actionable focus!

If everything is important, then nothing is important. Companies have to regularly set and reset their priorities, knowing what number one is and the top three to five at any given point in time. Once the company top priorities are set, each executive with the help of his/her team should set his/her functional area’s top three to five to support the company. Finally, each individual should establish his/her top three to five priorities to support the department’s priorities.

Once priorities are established, the next step is to execute and drive results. Simply put, all the good ideas in the world are worth little without people who execute on the good ideas and get them done.  Priorities set you free…empower employees to do their jobs…inspire them to achieve results…require you to manage less!

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