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Meetings are a part of life in business, but everyone has been a part of a meeting that didn’t get anywhere and, as the saying goes, could have been an email. So how do we increase efficiency, productivity and accountability in meetings to actually achieve results? Today, we are continuing to talk about Traction® by Gino Wickman, the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS®), and all it has to offer. More specifically, we are talking about the idea of a Level 10 Meeting™. 

What we cover in this episode: 

      • 05:22 – What is a Level 10 Meeting™?
      • 08:52 – The meeting pulse
      • 11:34 – Begin the meeting on time
      • 14:11 – Start with good news
      • 16:47 – Reporting mode
      • 25:06 – Identify, Discuss, Solve (IDS)
      • 28:04 – Meeting conclusion

What is a Level 10 Meeting™?

Before we get into definitions, we want to clarify that we will be explaining how we have implemented this in our own firm, but you can access Gino Wickman’s explanation of the Level 10 Meeting here.  If you aren’t familiar with term “Level 10 Meeting” or you haven’t heard us talk about Traction and EOS in the past, we encourage you to go back and listen to episode #68. In fact, you may want to go listen now, because today we are digging into Level 10 Meetings and we want you to be up to speed. 

A Level 10 Meeting has its name because on a scale of one to 10, your meeting should be rated 10/10 when it’s concluded. After each meeting, all attendees need to rate it on a scale of one to 10 based on the productivity of the meeting. The purpose of this is to give you the most efficient use of your time. Stopping to evaluate the meeting gives you time to consider if you got anything out of the discussion, need more clarity on something, understand the direction you are heading, etc. It also gives those involved to see who is being held accountable. Essentially, you should aim to have a Level 10 meeting every time. 

When implementing the Level 10 meeting concept, it is important to maintain realistic expectations. It may take some time to get into the groove of the meeting; it did for us! When we started, our meetings were not 10/10. They were more like 6 or 7/10. Some may have even considered those meetings a little rocky. But, that’s ok. We made it work for us and made adjustments where we needed them. 

The meeting pulse

The meeting pulse, which could also be called a meeting cadence, is essentially how often you are meeting and your routine surrounding the meeting. If you haven’t implemented the Level 10 Meeting structure, you may be meeting with your leadership team once per week, once per month, or maybe your meetings are all over the place. When following the suggestions from Traction, the recommended meeting cadence is once a week. This meeting should be held the same day each week, at the same time, and should be run on the same agenda. This meeting also should start on time and end on time. Period. 

Before scheduling your Level 10 Meeting, determine how much time you will need. A fair and recommended time for this meeting is 90 minutes. With 90 minutes you preserve everyone’s time by only discussing topics that need all of these stakeholders involved. If 90 minutes doesn’t work for your business, adjust the time to fit your agenda. 

Begin the meeting on time

The most important part of your Level 10 meeting is starting on time. Starting on time shows everyone involved that you value their time. This is an area we could improve upon. We are fairly flexible with our start time with internal meetings because one of our core values is about life in balance. Our entire team works virtually in different time zones with different situations. We currently have team members home-schooling their children, husbands working from home, and a recent snow storm hit part of our team, leaving them without power. We stress less about being completely on time, although we’re improving so we can be better at respecting everyone’s time. 

Regardless of your starting time, clearly communicate your expectations to your team. If you are starting your meeting at 10:00 sharp, make sure everyone knows this in advance. If someone is late to your meeting, you need to get started, and you are meeting virtually (using Zoom, GoToMeeting, etc.), like we do, hit the record button and allow everyone to have access to the recording once the meeting concludes. 

Start with good news

Beginning your meeting by allowing each person to share some good news is a great way for everyone to transition into work mode from whatever they may be doing personally before the meeting begins. At PJS & Co. CPAs, each of us talks about one good thing personally and professionally. We like to share things that have gone well with clients or our team over the past week and things that have gone well in our personal lives. We enjoy the camaraderie within the team, learning more about each other, and having the ability to acknowledge that there is life outside of business. The good news portion of the meeting isn’t a storytelling time. In order to keep the meeting effective and efficient, ideally it should be kept to around five minutes. Like other sections in the meeting, the good news section is very quick and to the point. Share a few things and then move on. Quick updates are beneficial and then later you can figure out the appropriate time to dive into those topics. 

Reporting mode

The next part of the meeting is the reporting mode. This element of the meeting lasts about 15 minutes and contains three different sections. The intention of this entire portion of the meeting is to report high-level. If any further discussion is needed, you will make note of it and drop it down to discuss later on, which we will cover later. 

Scorecard

The scorecard is a list of important items you establish that you want to track and the time period in which to track them. These are KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that will move the needle forward in your business and make sense to keep a finger on as you conduct business.  The scorecard should show approximately three months at a time so you may also see trends from week to week. We have between 15 or 20 items on our scorecard. These are things like cash flow, accounts receivable, number of leads coming in, number of people in the pipeline to be hired, etc. We talk through these things for about five minutes and if anything stands out that we need to discuss further, we take note and save that to what’s called the IDS, which we discuss later. The IDS portion of the meeting is when we can identify, discuss, and solve issues. The brief scorecard discussion makes everyone in the meeting aware of any issues. All of the information presented may not always be relevant to everyone, but it’s helpful for everyone to know what’s going on.

Rocks

The next topic of conversation is the Rocks. If you aren’t familiar with Traction, this term may sound foreign, but quarterly Rocks are a foundation of your goals. Within the EOS® (Entrepreneurial Operating System), you’re creating goals for each quarter, the next year, and the next three years. Those goals are where you focus your time and energy on each quarter. Tasks to reach those overall business goals are assigned to each member of the team individually as well as on a department level. These tasks are considered your Rocks. After your brief scorecard discussion, there should be a brief Rocks review that takes about five minutes for the whole team. We try to limit the Rocks to between three and seven goals per person. 

Headlines

Next, each person gets about one minute to give a quick customer and employee headline, if they have any. This is where we are brought up to speed about any employees that need to be discussed or a new client that is likely going to take more time, for example. Like the scorecard and rocks, the headlines part of the discussion takes about five minutes and is focused on reporting the information, high-level. 

To-do List

Next, is a brief discussion on the to-do list. If it is your first meeting, you will need to create and add items to the to-do list. More typically, the to-do list has been accumulated in prior meetings and contains items that need to be addressed within the next week. Without this component, things tend to be discussed, but many times items fall off the radar and are pushed to the back burner or forgotten completely. In a Level 10 Meeting, those items go on the to-do list with the goal that 80-90 percent of the to-do list items will be handled each week and then drop off the list. Taking five minutes to discuss the to-do list lets everyone know what was completed and what may need more time, and why. Sometimes tasks even need to be reassigned or adjusted to get handled appropriately. This helps keep things moving and holds your team accountable.

Identify, Discuss, Solve (IDS)

IDS in the context of this meeting style stands for Identify, Discuss, Solve. The IDS part of the Level 10 Meeting is where the majority of your time should be spent, and typically lasts about one hour. As you are going through the first part of the meeting (good news, reporting, and to-do list items), you will make a note on the IDS list if further discussion is needed on any topic. This keeps the focus on reporting and to-do and helps avoid derailing your meeting. 

When it’s time to address the items you documented on the IDS list, everything you put on the list will need to be prioritized before just diving into discussion. Then, you’ll spend the next 60 minutes or so discussing and solving those prioritized topics. You may be able to get through each item on the list, but if a couple of the items take the majority of your time, at least you know you’ve started with the most important topics. 

The goal is to get through the entire IDS list and stop after 60 minutes. If there are items that weren’t resolved in that 60 minutes, they remain on the IDS list for next week. If there is one overarching issue that needs to be discussed for the entire 60 minutes, so be it. That’s what the time is for. We are typically able to talk through several items on our list, but if there is a team member who isn’t performing as expected and we need to talk through that and it takes the full meeting, we do what is necessary. The goal during the IDS discussion is to solve problems. If you can solve all of the problems on the list, great. If you can only solve one, focus on the fact that you’ve solved something. The IDS conversation is also a time when additional items can be added to your to-do list. 

Meeting conclusion

At this point, hopefully you’ve gotten through your entire issues list and several have been resolved or you’ve added items to the to-do list to move closer to resolution. During the meeting, if there were to-do items that came up, those should be documented and assigned to someone. Next week, everyone can receive an update on this particular item from the person in charge of the topic. 

Then, you’ll discuss any cascading items to decide if they need to be a high priority next week, if they should be removed from the list, or if they should be reassigned to someone else. Then, decide if there is anything that was covered in the meeting that needs to be communicated with others outside of those in attendance at the Level 10 Meeting, referred to as “cascading messages.” If there are changes taking place, someone needs to be assigned to communicating that to those impacted and someone needs to be assigned to tracking the change.  

At the end of the first several Level 10 Meetings, you should rate the meeting on a scale of one to ten. Give your perspective on the success of the meeting. How was the flow of the meeting? Did you accomplish more or less than you expected? Did anyone go off on tangents? If so, was that handled in a respectful manner where the topic of conversation was moved on the IDS? Rating the meeting allows everyone to learn and improve. 

Lastly, respect everyone’s time and end the meeting at the scheduled time. No matter how many people are in attendance at your Level 10 Meeting, the goal is to be productive, based on the agenda, in the amount of time you’ve established. 

Conclusion

We know first-hand the benefits of having regular Level 10 Meetings with your leadership team and we want you to experience those benefits too! Having structure in your meetings, using a standard agenda every week and tracking progress really does help make strides toward achieving your goals. Meeting with your team on a regular basis is necessary to move your business forward. These meetings allow you to create a sense of inclusion with your leadership team. Plus, you get the opportunity to know what’s going on across your business, you have insight into what people are working on and what they are thinking. Not to mention, regular meetings like this hold you and your people accountable. If your meetings aren’t as productive as you think they could be, you are simply looking to add structure to your meetings, or you just want to move your business forward, consider implementing some of the Level 10 Meeting strategies in your business. It could be a game-changer. 

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