When you bring a senior leadership group together in a room, it's a massive commitment of resources. The hotel and food are the least of it. Even the consultant, if you're using one, is a negligible cost compared to the investment of monopolizing the focus of seven or eight highly compensated, time-starved leaders.I was talking with an ex colleague of mine about ‘Leadership Away days'. We both used to attend some pretty heavy all day ‘strategy meetings’ that were mostly a total waste of this commitment of resources. I really wish this article had been written back then, I’d have happily placed it on the agenda , firmly under the ‘undiscussable’ section and had the hard conversation.
With all that brainpower around the table, the focus of a senior meeting needs to be conversation, controversy, even conflict — not updates. Leaders should never sit and read together. They should be engaging and struggling with the organization's most critical and difficult-to-solve issues.We wasted a LOT of time discussing the decisions that didn’t move the needle. This frustrated me immensely and is, in my opinion, one of the internal mental barriers that senior executives have intrinsically to ‘executive strategy meetings’. We’ve all sat in those meetings where you spend hour and hour discussing mid-level financials, operational performance, credit performance etc. Those of us that were any good, we knew this stuff inside out and backwards. It just wasted our time – or exposed those of us within the executive team that *didn’t** know their stuff… And that was even more frustrating. These bad experiences have scared some people away from 'strategy meetings', at a real cost to the health of the business.
Every single thing you do as a leader needs to have an impact. Your job is to think big.Love the idea of filtering discussion topics by the number of zeros involved. I’d personally add a ‘how many years’ involved filter. Dealing with "this year or next" should be dealt with in control meetings. Setting the course of the business over the next three, five, ten years. That’s the “big arrow” - that's thinking 'BIG'.
In conclusion. Well run strategy meetings are essential and this article gives you some excellent pointers.