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3.03 Cut your meetings by half with digital technology

Stradigo

Cut your meetings by half with digital technology — 3.03

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Cutting meetings by half is surprising, but a completely realistic thing. You just need the help of technology. I’ll explain how to do it!

Text: Shorten meeting by 50%

Getting people to cut down on their meeting time without changing their way of operating is impossible. Not even worth trying! Is it in fact so, that cutting down the time spent in meetings is possible with technology? I say it is. You can indeed succeed in cutting down meetings while increasing meeting efficiency. Let me explain how. 

How to lead a business?

8 people gathered around a table representing a business meeting.

Let’s begin with how to run businesses. Businesses are run through meetings. People talk during meetings. Of course, very shocking, people talk. Yet, this is such a fundamentally important thing that it needs to be emphasized, even if it is super obvious. You will see why, very soon. Please keep reading. 

By talking!

8 people gathered around a table representing a business meeting. The people are talking.

Businesses are run by talking. The whole point is that the group converses. If this conversation is cut short, will there be things left unsaid? Might be, but not necessarily! 

Cut down and shorten meetings!

Large gathering of people around multiple tables holding many separate meetings.

In many specialist organizations, time is consumed in consecutive meetings. One should also have time to operate. Where is the time cut out of? 

Two persons running, alongside a text headline “Time to operate!”

 Let’s not begin with lengthening the working hours, that’s a legal issue. Otherwise, people have no energy left. Time must be cut out from the meetings! Either the less important meetings need to be cut down, or the general babbling diminished. How is it done? 

Communicating

Image describing how during meetings communication can be steered in a group with the help of a digital board.

Regular meetings are the core of leading and management group meetings are crucial. The next meeting is in two- or four-weeks’ time. What happens in-between? In the old world, people call each other, send emails, and chit-chat in the corridors. Waiting isn’t always an option, it’s better to make decisions faster. If the boss makes a decision on their own, many employees get irritated. That’s usually why everyone waits until the next meeting. However, the waiting time can be long and it slows down the whole operation. Not good! 

Here’s the alternative: What if we communicated between meetings? Not two-by-two, but in a group! Technology is your friend.

Transparency!

Two people to the left discussing in hiding. Six people on the right discussing transparently with each other.

It’s completely possible to involve transparency in the process. When you use Microsoft Teams and you have a channel for the management team’s conversations, you are able to chat within the channel. When information is shared with the group, it’s the same as talking in a meeting. This is how the group becomes transparent, information is no longer only in the heads of two people. Information is shared with the whole group. Reading is also faster than listening. Save meeting time, that’s the point! Without transparency, it won’t work!

No more unorganized emails!

Unorganized letter representing emails that have not been sorted in an inbox.

In this type of operation, emails are no longer a messy pile. Your inbox won’t be full of individual emails, they are bundled and no longer fragmented. When the conversation is transferred from the email into a Teams channel, the focus remains much better. It increases profitability.   

3 drawn people cheering.

Shorten meetings. Less participants.

Cutting meeting time is also easier if preparation and post-processing are done within the channel. Decreasing the number of participants in a physical meeting is based on the fact that many people are in a meeting only to listen and to gain information. When information is transferred to a channel, including the meeting agenda, notes, and Protocol, you are able to read the information also at another time. Alternatively, you can receive a short oral briefing regarding your work without having to attend the full meeting. Again, if an issue is not resolved during the meeting, the conversation can be continued inside the channel. Then, also those that were absent can have their voices heard. 

As I’m writing this, I just learned that OneNote is expecting a new really cool feature. It enables meetings to be transcribed in real-time. Everything that is spoken during a meeting transcribes into text. This means that the conversation becomes documented! In the case of absence, you can read the whole conversation in a fraction of the time spent attending the whole meeting. 

This is how we can decrease the number of participants. People are able to acquire the information they need and to give their input in-between meetings. 

This is a revelation! The analog world gets challenged by digitalization. Shorter meetings, fewer participants, more time to operate! This will be a huge competitive advantage. The problem is of course that people are slow and their behavior takes time to change. Some, however, do it quickly and manage better! You are in charge of when it is the right time for you. If you can manage to do things the traditional way, go ahead! 

If you’re asking me, be curious and have a go with this! Improve your meeting structure!

Automatic Reporting

Drawing of a to-do list and speech bubbles. The speech bubbles represent a discussion about the to-do list in the form of automatic reporting.

This is when a phenomenon called reporting takes place. The entire meeting reports automatically! No need to go through all the trouble. This has to be a significant factor in meeting efficiency! 

Leadership into the digital world

Leadership in a digital environment.

Dear friend, this means that the entire leadership can gain a digital twin inside the digital world. The physical world is still there, but it becomes more efficient. Some say they want to meet in person, but isn’t it so that we all want to work at a place where we succeed better and where we don’t sit in pointless meetings? The wrong kind of human contact is only a burden. Of course, we want to meet one another, and we will find the optimal balance. A digital twin is formed for our operation. 

All leadership meetings are therefore also online. The conversations can be opened up to a larger group so that others are also able to follow the conversation. People get more information about what the company’s big picture actually is. Of course, all is not shared with everyone. There will continue to be confidential matters, but quite a lot can be shared with others too. The default value changes: Primarily, everything is transparent, unless it is defined as confidential. People also get to decide what information they need for their work. 

I’m so excited about this! I’m also pretty sure that when we look back in 20-30 years, we will never be able to understand how we could live in such oblivion. Information transfer will change for sure! Why? Because there’s a need for it. People will want this because it makes their job more meaningful. Less bullshit! More action! More results! Information will travel much better than before, even with fewer meetings. 

Leadership into the digital world

Drawing of an apple that represents a low-hanging fruit.

Now you can pick the long-hanging fruit. 🍎 You already have the system, Teams. Transfer leadership into the digital world, my friend. By doing so, you gain a more meaningful and more efficient workplace.  

Take the digital twin into use and ignite your strategy! Read more.🔥 

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Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategy Implementation

3.01 The Presence Of Strategy In Everyday Business

Stradigo

The presence of strategy in daily work — 3.01

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Many organizations experience problems with the strategy becoming present in everyday business. You see, when you create the strategy, it easily remains hidden somewhere out of sight, and nobody looks at it until the next time the strategy is updated. A present strategy is what you need.

Three loops

Strategy framework with 3 loops. Direct, Prioritize, Act. This framework is used by Stradigo.

This is an image of three loops from the strategy journey.

Here is, once again, our strategy model with three loops. In the first loop, we direct the company and find a direction we think will bring us success. In the second loop, we start steering the strategy implementation.  Big goals get broken down into subgoals, which the management prioritizes. When goals are defined, we proceed to loop three, everyday operative work.

The link connecting the first and second loop often breaks. It’s one of the reasons why organizations fail to implement their strategy. If you want to ignite your company’s strategy, make the loops rotate and keep them linked.

Summarizing everything on a single page

This is a drawing describing how a Strategy 1Pager is created by summarizing information and how it continues into implementation.

The key with creating a Strategy 1Pager is to summarize everything to a single page.

The strategy crystallizes from many ideas. The unique thing about our work process is that we hold strategy meetings with the whole staff, where everyone is allowed to give comments. Meetings take place at the beginning, the middle, and the end of the strategy process. Workshops occur with expanded group composition.

A significant number of ideas are gathered, refined, and prioritized. In the end, the strategy gets crystallized onto a single page, Strategy 1Pager. Then the implementation process begins.

Strategy 1Pager

In this drawing five people look at a Strategy 1Pager. The 1Pager includes a sector, a sun and an indigo arrow pointing at the sun.

Meetings, meetings...

This is a drawing of five groups of people meeting around five different tables. In the centermost table one person is pointing at a large screen.

Several meetings take place in companies. The question is, is the strategy present in the meeting agendas? Unfortunately, I suspect that it is not actively present in that many meetings.

Operative tasks eat up the time

Operative matters quickly eat up all the time that people have reserved for thinking about the strategy. In another blog, I told you that important and urgent issues compete against each other. In this competition, urgent matters always win.

The talent is to have the strategic goals present during the meetings. How is it done in practice? There are better and worse solutions to that; however, I’ll explain one excellent approach and a new possibility for you.

How you lead and follow up progress

This is a drawing of five people looking at a dashboard of goals. The goals are marked with red, yellow and green dots.

Use a digital board. Track progress through it.

Let’s move the strategy onto a digital board! Everybody can see the whole strategy and write comments onto cards, which get grouped according to goals. When your big goals are present on the board and separated into specific tasks, traffic lights show how strategy implementation progresses.

When the essential tasks are listed, staff can notice that one or several goals may no longer be optimal. Goals and tasks can influence each other, which creates an interesting dynamic. This dynamic between goals and tasks is a component of agile leadership, a living strategy. Staff can also notice quite fast if the goals have been completed. Once complete, the team can fill the void with new the following objectives.

The point is in how people lead themselves and follow up on the work. Is the work in sync with the strategy? When we have a digital board, it affects our work. The media is the message! When the board makes the things we pursue visible for us, we go towards our goals much more efficiently. This way the strategy becomes present.

The Purpose

This is a drawing of five people looking at a dashboard of goals. The goals are marked with red, yellow and green dots.

Every business needs to have a Purpose, the sun, for it to exist. Some have written it down; others have not. The purpose is not only about earning money for the shareholders – even though it is essential. But we make more when the purpose is an answer to what you do for our customers.

If you involve the customer in this purpose, you suddenly earn more money for the shareholders. You get better success because you think outside-in instead of pushing out products from an inside-out perspective. That’s why the purpose must be visible on the strategy page.

A strategy implements the purpose. It helps you to implement it more efficiently for your customers. In the end, the strategy can be just a few sentences long—an elevator pitch.

The strategy consists of focus areas. What are the areas that need focus? These focus areas are written down clearly in the strategy. The next thing is identifying the big goals. There can’t be too many focus areas; three or four is often the right amount. Otherwise, your attention gets split on too many things, and nothing gets finished in time.

To reiterate the marmalade phenomenon: Every organization has a spoonful of marmalade and a certain number of toasts to butter. The management can’t pick too many toast pieces; otherwise, you won’t taste the marmalade.

In a large corporation, two focus areas can be too few, but five can be too many. In a smaller company, two or even one focus area can be enough. If a storm erupts, focus areas need prioritization. The company reduces the number of things receiving focus. In that situation, a big company might have only two focus areas. Storms can come from black swan events (unexpected events), like a global pandemic.

Goals and targets

This is a hierarchy of multiple levels. From top to bottom. Purpose, Strategy, Focus Areas, Goals & Actions. The words are connected by red arrows.

It’s very vital that your company has a way to prioritize things, a hierarchy if you will.

It isn’t easy to implement a strategy if one merely goes with the flow and invents goals out of thin air. When the whole staff is involved in the strategy process, critical operative thinking always happens. The strategy and the focus areas get seen as high-quality ideas.

Without a satellite perspective, the ideas according to which the company operates lack sufficient perspective, in my opinion.

If you don’t understand your purpose for the customers, you don’t necessarily focus your energy on the most important things. If you only think about operative goals and tasks, you’re arranging deck chairs on the Titanic a few moments before the ship hits the iceberg. You also have to examine the road into the future.

Helicopter perspective

During the five-day war in Kuwait, general Schwarzkopf held daily press conferences. He said that it’s possible to make good decisions from the grassroots perspective; however, when one rises to the helicopter level, “then you know what to do.”

We can use Schwartzkopf’s approach as a good example. An organization, with a clear upper-level view, defines better goals for itself. Even in a one-person micro-enterprise, it’s beneficial to understand what should receive focus!

In smaller companies, the focus areas might often change, even every couple of months. The implementation of the focus areas takes longer in larger companies. They complete more comprehensive strategy rounds now and then. After that, it’s perfectly acceptable to look at the strategy quarterly. How is it doing, and has it progressed?

Safe stability is gone

These days companies need people to think about the most critical topics more frequently and faster. To those who believe that their industry isn’t changing rapidly, I say good luck. I’m afraid the time of safe stability is gone. One of the few safe things a company can do is stay constantly alert and sense what customers need. React immediately to sudden changes.

Following the big picture: trends and competition, etc.

The company staff must follow up the strategy implementation constantly.

You need continuous follow-up

A series of meetings is called a management system. The management system provides answers to various questions. What kind of meetings? What are the themes and mission of each session? How often are meetings held? What is the meeting agenda? What are things measured during the meeting?

Take a look at your management system and follow up on implementation progression progress now and then. During bad times if you don’t reach the goals, the management system meetings are held more frequently. A loose follow-up can lead to an inefficient way of working. Inefficiency can cause you not to reach the goals you’ve set out for yourself. That’s why it’s imperative to lead the strategy through the organization.

Leadership inside the organization

This is a drawing of five groups of people meeting around five different tables. A person is pointing at a large screen. Red arrows connect the groups.

Look at the above image. Let’s pretend the management group is in the middle. It follows up on upper-level goals, but, in the meantime, every team in the organization has also interpreted what those high-level goals mean to them personally.

Now comes the trick. Everyone can, and should, have access to a digital board of their own, which links to the other boards through an internal logic. The goals and tasks are easily made visible on the board. Through this approach, the company ensures that the upper-level goals are, within reason, broken down into subgoals.

Some time ago, I was facilitating the strategy creation process in a large corporation. The process took place over multiple days. On the second day, the idea was to set goals for the fourth quarter, but suddenly the conversation changed the process agenda and gave birth to a new Strategy 1Pager. And that’s what we did. The strategy didn’t change, but we noticed the focus areas needed to be updated.

Bottom up!

Together we defined the new big focus areas and created everything from the bottom up. We browsed through the essential topics. The most critical matters passed the filter. As a result, the Strategy 1Pager contents changed. In retrospect, a person could think we made an extensive strategy round, but we only ended up changing the focus areas.

Even though the corporation in question is a billion-dollar company, it’s beginning to be quite agile. Agility has developed over several years. Decisions aren’t carved in stone. When we modified the 1Pager, we merely documented the new situation! It was a surprise to everyone; it wasn’t the plan to even make a new one-page strategy. The strategy stayed the same even if the focus areas changed.

Every team has a separate function. The important thing is how the teams begin to implement them.

Today's point: Continuous Prioritization

This is a drawing of a sector with black borders. Inside the sector is an indigo-colored pointed arrow that leads towards a sun outside the sector.

The point of the day is constantly prioritizing by using a digital board.  Strategy becomes present in everyday life—staff sails within the sector defined by the chosen strategy. Every day staff senses from which direction the wind blows. Sensing like this enables everyone to act with agility.

The Purpose gives the staff and customers energy. People get inspired when actions align with the purpose. The team goes along because everybody works towards a great thing. A great purpose means customers get help. Customers are thrilled when they can access the expertise they need.

If you want the strategy to be present in your everyday life, you must prioritize constantly. The strategy must be part of the meeting agenda in the weekly meetings! It may sound overwhelming, but it’s not. You only need one board, in which the strategy is visible all the time!

Do this correctly, and your strategy will become present and steer your daily activities!

Ignite your strategy! Read more.🔥

Finding Us On Social Media

Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.

Categories
Strategy Implementation

3.02 The Game Book of Actions

Stradigo

The Game Book of Actions — 3.02

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Many leaders have the problem that makes it difficult for them to renew their way of working, even though the goal is clear. How could one make everyone feel excited about creating new things while improving competitiveness? Creating an exciting game book of actions is the answer.

Let’s begin with our strategy model, in which three loops rotate while linked to one another. The first loop is where the strategy is directed: Everyone is involved and ideas are chosen, challenged and crystallized. When the strategic goals have been defined, the second loop’s mission is to break them down into subgoals. Prioritizing, resourcing and steering take place. The final loop is the everyday work, which is the theme of today’s blog.

Three loops

Strategy framework with 3 loops. Direct, Prioritize, Act. This framework is used by Stradigo.

How do we get people to serve their customers with excitement throughout the entire customer lifecycle? The customer lifecycle is a journey as well.

The 3rd loop of Igniting Strategy process. Text: “Act Daily, serve customers, sense & respond, playbook for Way-Of-Working, utilize technology.”

What are the crucial matters, the new ways of working, that must be implemented? These matters can be made into Game Book. This metaphor has excited many. How can technology be used to make the ‘We Act’-loop rotate faster?

A red dot and a green dot. Above the red dot is the text “Brake”. Above the green dot is the text “Gas”.

In actions, there are two pedals, the gas pedal and the brake pedal. If the brake pedal is pressed down, the car won’t budge. We must figure out a way to lift the pedal. I always pose a question:

What’s not working?

Of course, in every place there are a million things that don’t work. But what are the big things that aren’t working? If we merely try to step on the gas without letting go of the brake, it’s wasting energy.

The point is to understand what the WOW factor be for us, for me, my friends, and for our clients? This is the key to a fine process. Let’s engage everyone to think about the WOW factor. That’s when the brake pedal lifts, and the car is free to move. Not a very difficult idea, in theory.

What is the WOW factor for us?

A red dot and a green dot. Above the red dot is the text “Brake”. Above the green dot is the text “Gas”.

The movement must be going from left to right. At Stradigo, we have facilitated tens of processes just like this, and as a concept it seems to be amazing.

The text “Game Book” in the color indigo written above a drawing of an open book.

The answer is to create a Playbook together! Invite people to join the process, even on a voluntary basis. Don’t create a thick Playbook, instead include only the crucial new procedures.

The Game Book of actions reforms procedures

The text “Game Book” in the color indigo written above a drawing of an open book.

The idea is to crystallize the new procedures. It’s advisable to do that according to the role. In an organization, people have multiple roles. What if people in certain roles were invited to identify the procedure that would become the WOW factor? WOW stands for Way-Of-Working.

The point is that the identification is done together. It’s not done in a conference room. Preferably, it’s done with volunteers. When people are given the freedom to think about the WOW, it’s easily identified!

In many places, I have been told that rules are not wanted. I often use soccer as a metaphor, because certain rules are needed. One must be familiar with the area in which the game is played. The goalkeeper can use their hands when catching the ball. A player can’t kick others in their legs.

If we do things together, the Game Book of actions inspires people to turn their operation towards a common direction by themselves. This direction is our Purpose, how we help our customers.

What motivates a role?

Drawing of an agile culture in an organization as a sun shining out into different sectors. Customer, Salesperson, Leader, Project Manager, and Expert.

Let’s look at the roles. The customer is, of course, an obvious role. As is a salesperson, an expert, and a manager. A bunch of roles are picked, and then people are asked to volunteer in the process of choosing WOW factors for the roles. This makes everybody see the WOW factors in the roles.

The WOW catch

Drawing of a brick wall being hit by a large arrow. An indigo colored arrow goes around the wall towards a sun.

The work begins by looking at what’s slowing us down. The catch is to go around the obstacle. We task a group to find a way around the obstacle. The amount of creative ideas it’s possible to get is amazing!

Typical Game Book themes

Game Book Themes: Leadership principles, transparency, interaction / co-operation, decision-making, agile customer work, stakeholders.

The management’s job is to create focus, and they want to influence the process at this stage as well. The image above has typical approaches. The core can be the agile customer work. How could interacting and collaborating work better, and what about decision-making? How could we understand the customer more deeply? We ask people to innovate WOW factors within these themes.

The themes in the above image are typical, however, the management group can identify specific themes that they want to work for them.

Case: Roles have common joker cards

Representation of a joker gaming card in Stradigo’s strategy work process. Source of a WOW-factor. “I split meetings in half.”

I invented the above card metaphor during a process inside of a big organization. The WOW factors were contemplated with chosen pioneering individuals. The management had given themes in which new things were innovated. These procedures were developed in a series of workshops. That’s when the idea of making the WOW factor into a playing card was born. It creates a card game!

Four cards were created in one workshop, when people were divided into four groups. Together, all the cards created a deck of cards. The name of the WOW factor was written on a card. We also gave the card a short description. The card contained ideas the individual carrying the card could implement without needing to ask a superior for permission. We also created special Joker cards, that could suit all the roles inside of the organization. Here is an example of such a Joker card:

“I cut meetings in half, both in time and number, without sacrificing our goals. I save people’s time by freeing them from long meetings. I only invite people relevant to the meetings. Using Teams, I collect everyone’s comments beforehand or after the meeting. We converse in Teams, not with email.”  

Many cards were created, 52 to be exact! That’s the same amount of cards as in a regular deck of cards. The management was very excited about this. Take a moment to guess if the organization’s creative team was excited about the card deck? Yes. They ended up going out into the hallways, and the company neighborhood and they told everyone in the organization what had taken place.

The whole process went organically. In this situation the management didn’t start pushing it. Pioneer individuals were chosen, and they got to spread the excitement to others. It’s a very efficient and natural way! In other instances, we have done things more traditionally if the customers have wanted to set goals and to follow up. It depends on how this all feels as a process. 

Create a Game Book of actions and ignite your strategy! Read more.🔥

Finding Us On Social Media

Stradigo

Stradigo is a brand owned by Rdigo Oy (Business-ID: 2120844-1).

Rdigo Oy is registered in Finland as a Limited company. We are a strategy consultancy located in the Helsinki capital region.

We’ve been in business since 2007. The company name comes from the latin word Redigo, meaning both ‘I shape’ & ‘I renew’.

Stradigo combines the word strategy with Rdigo.