Tool: The agenda of a modern department meeting

By Erik Korsvik Østergaard, 7. October 2019

Oh, the classic department meeting. So tedious and boring. But wait, it does not have to be. If you rearrange the elements of the meeting, then the flow and the mood changes. Here is how to do that.

The classic department meeting is boring

The classic department meeting goes something like this:

“Welcome everybody. Let’s dive straight to it. Here are the sales numbers from this month. And as you see (…) Next up is a tour around the table to share what we’re working on. Tim, you start (…) Right, let’s get back to work”.

One hour spent. Or wasted. We can do better than that.

Sustainable Leadership is the backbone of the agenda

Sustainable Leadership is the understanding of juggling a mutual and coherent focus on

  • our raison d’être and our identity
  • our social capital,
  • our value-creating tasks,
  • and our profitable business.

It is a wholesome mindset and approach to meaningfulness, context, human beings, and the health and growth of your business.

With that in mind, let’s rearrange the order of the agenda items, and reframe some of the dialogue. Here is the modern agenda for the modern department meeting.

the modern agenda purpose people progress profit

The modern agenda for the modern organization

Purpose

“So, what have you done this week, to support our purpose?”

Your opening question is the anchor point for your dialogue the next hour. Meaningful work and value-creating tasks are a vital item of the modern workplace (albeit not without business value and revenue). Starting the meeting with that question strengthens your direction, your identity, and your transactional work. See also the so-called Impact Stories, that are a great frame for describing your activities. And this blog post on how to find and activate your organizations why.

People

“News about people: John became father last night. Amy got promoted. Jim is on vacation.” etc.

This is followed by a session where everyone shares their reflection of the week that went:

“On a scale from 1 to 6, how was your week – and why?”

This creates a huge change to the meetings, with introduction of a human-centric “measurement”. Each team member shares their index and a reflection on why the week was fantastic, mediocre, or shitty. Everybody gets insight into the personal experiences of colleagues. We in Bloch&Østergaard uses a three-question approach: “How happy are you with your relationships? How happy are you with your results? How happy are you with your workload? And please add a comment.”

Progress 

Time for “The state of the nation”, that is, news and information from management and from those that focus on the business, the market, the customers, technology, etc. This should be handled in less than 10 minutes.

Then, your department Kanban board, with walk-through of progress on the relevant activities (What was planned this week, what did we work on, what did we finalize – and what did we not succeed with, and why) and with agreement of next weeks activities from the backlog.

Profit

Last item is the classic financial overview and business KPI’s. They DO still have a place, just in the end of the meeting.

Be inspired and get the tools

We do this ourselves. The 28th podcast episode “vores rytme vores ugemøde” (in Danish) describes how we do it, including the team temperature – or the “Pirate” as we have nicknamed it.

Here is how to use the Kanban board, also for meetings.

Understanding your organizations purpose starts with the Impact Stories and continues with understanding and activating it.

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