Planning to Plan – The ‘Reverse-Flow’ meetings.
While our IBS ( Issues, Barriers, Strategies) process identifies and prioritizes, the truth is, deciding to do something without accountability and consistent monitoring is useless.
Three frogs sitting on a lily pad. One decides to jump off. How many are left on the lily pad. Lots of different answers however, in this example the answer is three. Deciding to do something does not insure that you will get it done.
The implementation factor is critical and this is what makes our system work. At least once a month the team has a meeting. The Team can be a collection of employees from different departments (The Employee In-Put Team) or from a specific group (Install, Service, Office, Sales, Management). We call these meetings ‘Reverse-Flow Meetings’ because in many businesses communication flows down hill and the purpose of these meetings is to reverse the flow of ideas back up to the top.
These Facilitated Monitor/Review Meetings focus on identifying and prioritizing Issues. Working with Barriers and Strategies is done with groups between meetings. (tweeners). The key to the success of these meetings is that a person will volunteer to “Own” a Task Card. This makes him the captain of the team of people who will identify barriers and determine a strategy which they will recommend to the decision maker.
The ‘Owner’ will report at subsequent meetings the ‘status’ of the card. Each meeting begins with the facilitator asking each owner, “What is the current status of your card? The ‘Card Owner’ will respond by indicating what his/her team has accomplished since the last Monitor/Review Meeting. If they have decided upon a strategy and offered the three part form to the decision maker they will review that strategy with the group.
The decision maker has two weeks to respond to the suggestion of “What we should do differently to reduce this barrier or advance the opportunity.” There are four possible responses. We say the decision maker “ARMS©” the plan.
• Accept (I believe that your plan will work…let’s implement.)
• Reject (I don’t believe the plan will work…because, because, because…) The listing of why the plan was rejected(because,because,because) is critical. Those barriers listed can be analyzed by the team and dialogue with the decision maker can reduce or eliminate them causing the plan to be accepted.
• Modify (I’m adding and / or subtracting ideas…then let’s implement.)
• See me (Let’s talk…I really don’t understand your strategy.)
If significant progress is reported i.e. decision makers response or implementation has begun, then a big fat red check is made on the card by the facilitator with the month and year noted on the tail of the check.
If, however, the owner of the task card reports that there is more to accomplish before they can submit a plan, he / she indicates the future meeting at which he / she will report on the status of the card. He does this by filling out and placing a post-it note in the appropriate place on the card. This note identifies the specific action his group will take to advance the issue.
At the next Monitor/Review meeting the facilitator can review the post-it note to see if they completed the action he identified. When all the owned task cards have been reviewed the facilitator leads the group in deciding if any of the unowned cards should be removed from the board.
A blue check indicates the group unanimously has decided not to pursue the issue. A Red Check indicates that the issue has been addressed and resolved.
The last part of the meeting is to give participants the opportunity to add and own additional task cards. The facilitator reviews the meeting activities, announces the day and time for the next meeting and tells the group to “Go Away”.
The final responsibility for the facilitator is to move the cards to the ‘Master Board’ which is placed in a location where all can see the results of each of the “Reverse-Flow Meetings”. Dates and times for subsequent meetings are also posted on the ‘Master Board’.
Next post: Hold effective consistently scheduled meetings.