Quite often I’ve been part of global leadership teams, who come together for a face-to-face meeting somewhere in the world for maybe two long days and then all dash off to catch planes or go to other meetings at the end of the planned agenda.

Nevertheless as a team, you would like everyone to feedback to their locations or their own teams who report to them, what has been discussed and decided. Everyone will obviously have their own ideas about what was important or not for their own people, and how much detail is necessary, and that is fine. But it can be advantageous to have, if not an agreed script, at least a common view about what should definitely be covered, so that the whole global organisation has the opportunity to hear the same messages.

A simple trick I discovered a number of years ago can help. And allows everyone to rush away from the meeting with the same single sheet of paper, factually or figuratively (aka electronically).

At the basis are 8 questions which are answered in the course of the meeting and in the final communication note. And some of them can even be answered before the meeting.

Practically I have done this either with flip chart and pen standing in front of the whole meeting, or with someone typing at the same time as it is projected while I have facilitated, so that everyone can see what is being written. You can either do this after each part of the meeting or indeed it is often easier to use 10 minutes at the end of each day. Everyone takes part and the words are agreed. And it really is as simple as I say.

Here are the 8 questions or indeed the 8 sections of the one-pager

 

What meeting was it?

Presumably the meeting has some sort of title, even if it is only the organisation’s leadership team meeting!

When & where?

Dates and location: can be filled in immediately!

Who attended?

Names and job titles: can obviously also be written up at the beginning of the meeting. If there were special guests or external speakers they can be mentioned as well.

Why did we meet?

An interesting question. And if this cannot be answered in one or two simple bullet points then maybe the meeting shouldn’t have been held in the first place!

As an example, when I was VP Strategy of the Shell shared service centre network, we held a leadership team meeting in Kuala Lumpur with both the General Managers (GMs) of the eight centres and the Functional Global Heads (eg Finance, IT etc, called the CIMT). Our ‘why did we meet’ bullets were:

  • To ensure that the two leadership groups in the shared service centres – the CIMT and the GMs – effectively and efficiently work both separately and together, to deliver the plan for the year
  • Support the KL shared service centre in its journey

What did we discuss?

Can actually be taken from the agenda (if the meeting sticks to it!) For the most part this can just be titles of sessions or even shorter. A short list of the main points. But for some of the discussions an additional half a sentence may be useful as a reminder of content.

From the same example, some of these bullets were:

  • Costs, budgets, tariffs: cost competitiveness and control.
  • The individual functional and locational challenges in the year ahead.
  • How the two leadership teams (of GMs and Functions/CIMT) can best work both individually and together to seamlessly create the future strategy and operationalisation
  • The KL shared service centre Open Day.
  • Diversity & Inclusion. Business Continuity Planning. Compliance. HSSE.

What did we decide?

Simple bullet points on the main decisions taken. Detail is not necessary for this document and can always be filled in when the participant feeds back in person.

Again some examples from the same meeting:

  • An understanding of our cost structure leading to the identification of six major areas where we will target maximum cost control and explore cost reductions.
  • The terms of reference for the two leadership teams and a renewed manner of working together
  • The way forward on Business Continuity Planning.

What did it feel like?

I like this question because otherwise the feedback can seem dry and theoretical. Even top leadership meetings are about people interacting with each other. So a few descriptors of how the participants felt about and during the meeting, can add to a successful organisational-wide debrief.

The words used in the same KL meeting were:

Open discussions. Teamwork. Support. “We are not alone”. Tiring. Energising.

Follow-up

Not necessarily all the action points, that would be too much, but what are the commitments that have been made, that are useful for the organisation as a whole to know.

 

In conclusion, this is remarkably simple to do, the process ensures everyone owns the result, and it is ready when people leave. And makes sure at least the most important aspects are fed back to the wider organisation as a whole.

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