Data Drives Prediction
THURSDAY, MAY 15TH, 2008
Two keys to being a good leader are the ability to predict and delegate. As your business grows, in order for you to be able to spend more time focusing on the growth and strategic areas of your business, you and your managers need to develop in these two key areas. If your key managers don’t know how to function well in these areas, face it, the ability for you to remove yourself from key functions and decisions in the business will be severely limited.
Many of the tools we provide in coaching are integrated, and nothing could be more dependent on building good predicting skills than the meeting rhythms we suggest you create within your business. Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly and Annual meetings should be a collecting point for data and metrics. If you haven’t read Verne Harnish’s Mastering the Rockefeller Habits or Pat Lencioni’s Death by Meeting than your eyes are probably rolling when I suggest meetings and especially more meetings. Again I’m not talking about the standard boring, nothing gets accomplished, no agenda, snooze episodes that regularly occur in most companies. I’m talking about snappy, vibrant meetings where everyone contributes, decisions are made, accountabilities are passed out and everyone leaves with a sense of something having been accomplished and true communication took place.
Our daily huddles are intended to be completed in 15 minutes or less,[See 1-800-GOT JUNK Daily Huddle Example] the result being a sharing of information of what everyone’s top priorities are, where they are stuck, how they are doing against their individual metrics and quarterly responsibilities, and finally a positive personal or professional closure. We’ve done meetings with up to 8 participants in less than 6 minutes. In even large companies of more than 100 employees the entire company can be updated and aligned each day within one hour, top to bottom, department by department in quick 5, 10 or 15 minute segments.
What’s the importance of this? Data. What does data drive? Prediction. Meetings enable your company employees to quickly update you and your managers on what’s happening. If there’s a problem in the business when do you want to find out, now or 2 weeks from now? Has it ever happened to you that you discover something is wrong and when you ask why they didn’t tell you they say, “I told you two weeks ago!” Why does that happen? Simply because they probably told you while you were in the middle of something urgent and you failed to make a note of it.
Daily meetings, when conducted properly will avoid this from happening. Think about it. Let’s say on Monday one of your subordinates tells you in the daily huddle they’re stuck having a problem with this client or this production issue. Suppose you think they can solve it by themselves and you choose to ignore it. Tuesday, in the meeting, again they say their stuck with the same issue. Do the alarms go off, or do you continue to allow them to work through it? On Wednesday if you have any salt at all you’re on top of it, you charge in to help. Chances are you might have responded sooner, but here’s the thing, you don’t wait, and best of all you didn’t ignore it for two weeks because you were so engrossed in your own issues that you totally forgot that someone said something to you during the day while you were occupied elsewhere. The consistency and discipline of meeting rhythms prevents missing critical issues that your people are dealing with.
Each meeting your people should update you on their achievements toward their daily priorities and key performance indicators. Again this data is critical for helping you respond and predict. If your staff indicates more sales are coming in then expected or that they’re running short on these gizmos you can react and respond now rather than a week or two later because you haven’t been communicating.
The best run businesses predict better because they get information faster. They respond when others are caught up in the minutiae of details. Sam Walton held a weekly meeting with his top executives and store managers weekly, a practice that still exists today. That weekly meeting discussed what was moving on the floor and what was sitting on the shelves as well as what their competitors were doing. The results of that meeting set the tone for the next week for setting up displays and ordering. Within 24 hours they had their marching orders for the next week and were expected to have displays changed and new merchandise ordered and setup to meet customer and market demands. Its one reason why even today Wal-Mart continues to stay a step or two ahead of their competition. Story after story of companies we coach provides similar examples. In today’s fast moving world if you are recognizing what’s happening quickly you can go out of business tomorrow.
Data drives prediction. In order to cultivate a management philosophy and drive that DNA into the businesses culture and develop new capable leaders, meetings need to be crisp, communicative and provide essential information for making decisions.
In order to train your people in your management culture and develop leadership skills in prediction, meetings are an essential discipline for any growing business. Meetings will not only train your people, and help you predict better, they’ll help you to recognize which or your people has true leadership capabilities by helping you see which people respond to the information that is provided in these settings. People who quickly recognize what the information means, take initiative and get results are the hotbed for your management and leadership track.
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