This article is part 5 of a series of articles on Organization Management Rhythm.
Various organizations search for and use different models of how to create an effective Rhythm of Business or Organization Management Rhythm. Each has its pros and cons. Each is aided by documents and software used to create models, linkages, and metrics. Some of these models are available as a software suite to automate meeting models to show the linkages between metrics.
Rhythm Of Business (ROB) Model
- Document what is needed for HR. Every company has certain HR processes that require participation from each department and management. Find out everything you’ll need to know and do, to ensure you’re complying with all the required HR activities.
- Document what is needed for finance. Similarly, meet with your finance counterpart to understand the annual budget creation process, reporting, financial review process, etc.
- Document what is needed for the strategic planning process. Most companies have some sort of annual strategic planning process that requires input from each department and is also tied into the annual financial planning/budgeting process. Find out what will be required of you and your department, to whom and when it’s needed.
- Determine the meetings you’ll want to hold within your team. Will you hold brief weekly meetings? A monthly staff meeting? Meet with your direct reports each week or each month?
- Create a list of what needs to take place each month throughout the year. It’s usually easiest to create this list based on your company’s fiscal calendar. Write down everything you’ve learned from your research and your thoughts on the meetings you’ll want to hold within your department. If you can visually depict this information in PowerPoint slides, even better!
- Obtain feedback. Review the draft version with your team, your counterparts and then with your boss to solicit feedback and input.
- Implement your ROB model. The goal is to ensure everyone on your team knows what to expect and when, and to ensure individuals are focused on the most important activities at the appropriate times. Once you’ve communicated with your team, share the tool with your counterparts within the company, so you can create the best possible working relationship with other groups.
This model can work well for an organization that has the processes laid out, a very formal process. It allows the use of the organization documents but does not allow for a reuse of knowledge in documents.
Operational Cadence and Rhythm
Writing in Medium, Honey Patel breaks things down to three steps2. This is based on different processes and people. It ranges from Lucid Meetings to LinkedIn products. It shows what the best out of each is and shows the products produced.
- Inventory: Make a list of all meetings in an excel file with key information:
- Objective: What is the purpose of the meeting and how is it structured?
- People: Who attends the meeting
- Time: When and at what frequency does the meeting happen?
- Needs: Evaluate for redundancies, frequency, and objectives. Then use those insights to build a model for operational cadence based on that.
- Iterate: Things change and the model should evolve as the landscape changes, so evaluate and iterate on an ongoing basis.
What is nice about this model is that it takes from many sources outside the organization rather than all internally. This allows for it to be recreated for multiple organizations. It allows for study in-depth.
RLG International Operating RhythmTM
The basic elements of this model are the One Pager, Crew Talk, Boardwalk, Business Review, and Handover. This model is broken down this way to identify trends and to create continuity within the organization. They also use the international model of FAIR which is Focus, Accountability, Involvement, Response. The five steps are:
- An overall design or overhaul of the current set of key meetings within the organization. This includes an integrative approach in view of interfaces, timing, frequencies, attendance and set-up possibilities. One can choose to pilot with a part of the organization. RLG normally advise to start with the daily, shift and business review meetings, and then extend the approach to other meetings at a later stage. Sequencing of meetings is important. The selected Operating Rhythm meetings should have revised terms of reference (TOR) explaining the what, why, how and who of these meetings, ideally using standard templates. Don’t be afraid to start from scratch – often, an organization’s meetings are legacy.
- Ensuring defined mechanics for the selected Operating Rhythm meetings are in place, such as clear roles, agenda, action or promise tracking list, a proposed plan and a relevant performance report. Regarding the latter RLG advise short 1-page reports (one pagers, scorecards), with clear KPI’s, trends, actions to close gaps and recognition for positive results and behaviors. RLG aim for a variety of meeting set ups beyond the traditional boardroom meeting tables dominated with PowerPoints presentations, so for example having Boardwalks and Stand up meetings are highly desirable.
- Educate participants and leaders of these Operating Rhythm meetings on topics of generative conversations and accountability. For many who have spoken so long in a non-accountable and non-generative language, the content of these workshops are often a big eye-opener and a large step to make. People must learn how to formulate a promise or how to request an action, how to close actions in a proper way, how to ask for support and how to recognize people. Yes, this all sounds a bit basic, but it is our experience a major gap holding many organizations back. Simply, individuals, and especially leaders, need to understand and use accountability and generative language to achieve consistently high results through their teams.
- Introduce and then strengthen, using a coaching approach, the Operating Rhythm facilitation and leadership techniques for maximum effectiveness. RLG often do this in phases, starting with high priority meetings and leaders, then working across the organization. As one can expect, the high frequency meetings are established and improved faster, becoming models for low-frequency and subsequent meetings. In the meantime, RLG support individuals in preparing for their new or improved Operating Rhythm meetings, especially when setting up something entirely new, like a Boardwalk, or preparing a one-pager scorecard. RLG maintain importance to build both capability and confidence, and model desired behaviors. Through observation and feedback, during and after an Operating Rhythm meeting, RLG coach key players on improving their practices.
- Help the organization to manage their Operating Rhythm quality (while keeping the conversations during meetings as dynamic as intended). Most organizations don’t ‘manage’ their meetings, they simply attend them. As a result, conversation absent of accountability and generative language dominates, and meetings wander, often without full engagement, structure, purpose and results. Indeed, how many people say, “We have too many unproductive meetings!” Operating Rhythm management is an opportunity to improve this, to transform meetings into high points, enjoyable and productive. Often, one of our RLG Performance Coaches will mentor a selected number of people in Operating Rhythm management as one of their secondary roles.
By creating a structure that is easy to follow this model can produce actionable metrics. It allows for a continuous process to refine and innovate each step of the process. What it does not have shown is a set of documents on how to do it. This does not allow for easy analysis.
Next part (part 6): Tools.
Acknowledgements: Thank you to Tomi Antill, Keith Davis, Elise Keith from Lucid Meetings, JFHQ-C Leadership, and Kendra Albright from Kent State University, without whose support this series would not have been possible.
- Quast, L. (2017, March 27). How To Create A ‘Rhythm Of Business’ Model In 7 Simple Steps. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2017/03/27/how-to-create-a-rhythm-of-business-model-in-7-simple-steps/ ↩
- Patel, H. (2017, November 10). Operational Cadence and Rhythm A.K.A Meetings. Medium. https://medium.com/business-operations/operational-cadence-and-rhythm-a-k-a-meetings-7aeaf8872627 ↩
- Juch, H. & Weisenfelder, J. (2017, November 24). Five Steps To Set Up An Operating Rhythm. RLG International News & Insights. https://www.rlginternational.com/news-insights/news-and-insights/2017/11/25/five-steps-to-set-up-an-operating-rhythm ↩