Updates Kill Your Strategy
- Many organizations struggle to execute their strategies because of unproductive roundtable meetings where team members give updates on completed work without discussing how it impacts the larger strategy.
- These meetings can be unengaging for listeners, lack discussion and collaboration, and result in wasted time, with little progress made on the overall strategy.
- To make strategy meetings more effective, team members should come prepared with specific issues and requests for help, and the meetings should focus on moving forward on pieces of the strategy that have stopped or slowed, leveraging the unique skills, tools, talents, and experiences of the team.
Strategy execution doesn’t need to be complicated, so why do so many organizations struggle to get past the finish line, despite the clear, executable action plan laid out?
The reason: Updates.
There’s nothing worse than a roundtable meeting where each participant takes their turn updating the table on how they accomplished x, y, or z.
In our experience, those meetings look something like this:
- Speakers do very little prep work beforehand. When their turn comes, they just talk through their latest achievements.
Often Heard Here: Focus on completed work without acknowledgement on how it impacts the larger strategy.
- Listeners are not engaged because this update doesn’t strategically impact their own work.
Often Seen Here: Glazed-over eyes and team members checking their phones/emails.
- Discussion and collaboration from the team are almost nonexistent.
Often Experienced Here: Awkward silences, “throw you a bone” questions to spark conversation, or simple “good job” comments from leaders.
- Strategy and team building receive very little in terms of outcomes from these meetings. At best, you’ve checked a box on the strategy and the team now knows you accomplished this. At worst, you’ve just eaten up an entire team meeting, with no new directions or wins.
Often Heard Here: Team members complaining about wasted time.
Pit that experience against a strategy meeting that looks like this:
- Strategic preparation by each speaker so that they can effectively leverage the team when it’s their turn to talk.
Often Heard Here: Laser focused requests for help.
- Active participation from the team, as the listeners are intrigued by a problem or opportunity that was raised.
Often Seen Here: People leaning forward, jumping in to provide advice, support, or experience.
- Team engagement to elevate each other, remove roadblocks, and plan next steps.
Often Experienced Here: “Ah-ha” moments, thoughts of: “why didn’t I think of that,” “I love that idea,” and “I know what to do next.”
- Forward momentum on the overall strategy and team cooperation.
Often Seen Here: Immediate next steps are tackled or scheduled.
Updates Kill Your Strategy
Dramatic sounding? Maybe. But round-table meetings discussing work already completed are not productive. Face it, you could’ve saved time by sending an email. Update meetings don’t leverage your team’s talents, skills, or experiences, and in an hour-long strategy meeting, using half of it (or more!) on past work is often a waste of time.
After strategic planning, organizations should have implemented a rhythm of accountability to ensure a continued push forward on their new strategy. One aspect of this accountability is likely a routine team meeting to discuss pieces of the strategy. Each team member knows what they’re responsible for, and should come to the meeting prepared. However, in many cases, “prepared” means a list of tasks they’ve already completed, instead of what should really be discussed: issues that require the team’s help.
So what does a meeting like that actually look like?
Preparing For a Strategy Meeting
Before you hold your strategy meeting, review the pieces you are accountable for. Ask yourself, how far along are you on these pieces? If the answer is “on schedule” or “ahead of schedule,” you do not require discussion time at the meeting. Your job now is to provide support for your teammates. All updates on your end can be discussed in another setting.
If your answer is “behind schedule” it’s time to figure out why. Tell yourself the story.
- Have you allotted enough calendar time for this work?
- Are you struggling with not having enough time/money/buy-in to move this forward?
- Are you waiting for a decision from leadership?
- Do you still believe in this piece of the strategy?
- Is there another reason you’re behind?
Once you’ve identified why you are behind, pinpoint the actions your team members can take to help you get the ball rolling again. This is what will be discussed during the meeting. Be specific about what you need. For example, you could ask for 10 hours of support from a tech-savvy person over the next 60 days. Or maybe you need ideas for how you can keep moving while waiting for decisions from leadership. Another request could be for help understanding how others are making time for strategic work.
Whatever it is you need, bring it to the team meeting to discuss it. If you’re just overall stuck, maybe someone on your team has worked through a similar issue and can offer some insight. Leverage the power your team brings to these meetings. This is how you will push your strategy forward.
There are three main outcomes your strategy meeting should strive for:
- To start the ball rolling on strategy pieces that have stopped/not started
- To accelerate the ball rolling on strategy pieces that have slowed
- Practice trust in the team by leveraging one another’s unique skills, tools, talents, and experiences.
By using strategy meetings more effectively, you’ll set your team up for a far more successful year. You’ll begin to notice a change in the strategy work you accomplish and more trust within your team. This is how you use your team to drive strategy, rather than updates.
Download our Strategy Meeting Prep PDF here to ditch the updates and get back on track.
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