Over the past several years we have created the Savant Business Management System. What can Savant do for you? – radically accelerate your business results. By business results, we mean exceeding, by a wide margin, your current financial and organizational health objectives. How does Savant do this? By implementing some new whiz-bang concept? Nope. By offering some sort of novel insight unknown to mankind? Nope. How about magic? Nope. What we have done is borrow, bend, and combine the most effective, time-tested business concepts and boiled them down to their essential ingredients – making their digestion both smooth and healthy for your company.

The Savant Business Management System harmonizes the 5 most critical areas of your business – Foundation, People, Strategy, Execution, and Control. With all companies, the last four areas sit atop a foundation, and that foundation is comprised of your company’s leadership team alignment, meeting effectiveness, mindset, as well as your company’s purpose, values, and culture. At Savant, we ensure that your company has a solid foundation prior to focusing on the other critical areas. In this initial blog series we’re going to explore each component of the Foundation and why they are so important – let’s start with leadership team alignment and meeting effectiveness.

The Foundation

  • Leadership Team Alignment: We begin alignment with Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions and require reading of the Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

  • Trust: For a team to operate at an optimal level, or even an effective one, its members must be able to trust one another. The sort of trust we strengthen is vulnerability-based, where everyone can freely share, without fear of recrimination or judgement, their strengths, weaknesses, and where they need help.
    • High Performing Teams: Establish safe environments to speak, have team members that genuinely want to help one another, and leverage each of their respective strengths
    • Dysfunctional Teams: Team members hesitate to ask for help, conceal weaknesses, dread meetings, and avoid each other
  • Conflict: A leadership team that trusts one another can engage in healthy, ideological conflict. This sort of conflict facilitates the discussion of meaningful issues that lead to lasting resolution, unlike solutions that may be arrived at in an environment focused on faux harmony.
    • High-Performing Teams: Confront problems and issues quickly, develop practical solutions together, and minimize politics
    • Dysfunctional Teams: Circumvent problems, do not confront tough issues or behaviors, and their lack of transparency drives confusion
  • Commitment: With trust comes healthy conflict followed by commitment. Once we have these, leadership team members can share their true positions without fear or political positioning.
    • High Performing Teams: Buy-in and alignment on common objectives, clarity on direction and priorities, highly engaged team members
    • Dysfunctional Teams: Ambiguous or shifting direction and priorities, repeatedly revisiting discussions, absenteeism
  • Accountability: Once a leadership team has trust, engages in healthy conflict, and shows commitment, they can hold each other accountable for unhealthy or unproductive behavior.
    • High Performing Teams: Poor performers are managed and held accountable, same standards apply to everyone, collective effort, self-policing, not just the boss’s responsibility
    • Dysfunctional Teams: Routinely miss deadlines and key deliverables, poor performance is tolerated, environment of resentment and apathy
  • Results: With alignment of trust, conflict, commitment, and accountability in place a leadership team can focus on results. This focus only happens when leadership team members understand, accept, and conduct themselves in a way that places the company’s goals and objectives above their own.
    • High Performing Teams: Extraordinary recurring performance, team-based results, highly motivated teams and low turnover, superior financial and organizational health results
    • Dysfunctional Teams: Poor performance, team turnover, inferior organizational and financial results, lag industry competitors
  • If leadership team members are aligned as a united front, they can more easily focus on issues that must be resolved, actions that must be taken, and objectives that must be reached. Alignment is both a catalyst for speed and a basis for growth. Misalignment creates frustration, discord, infighting, and ultimately diminished results.

Meeting Effectiveness: Meetings get a bad wrap for good reason. Frankly, too much time is wasted in meetings and too many meetings are a waste of time. Savant changes that by solving the two most common problems leadership teams experience with meetings – ineffectiveness and lack of issue resolution – with a renewed focus on the meeting agenda and application of issue resolution management.

  • Leadership Team Meeting Rules and Agenda: Meetings are of the utmost importance because they are where the company’s most critical information is communicated. Meetings are not going away; we are just going to change the way they are conducted. Here are some basic meeting rules:
    • Same time every week and everyone attends
    • Excusable absences
      • Vacation
      • Family emergencies
    • Running the Meeting
      • Determine who runs the meeting and takes notes
      • Stick to the time and agenda
      • Call out tangents
      • No distractions (e.g., cell phones, email, etc…)
      • Constructive participation
  • Agenda (90 minutes):
    • (5) Good news – sets tone of meeting, share personal highlights from previous week
    • (5) Scorecard review – key metrics tracked, easily spot trends, anything off track is added to issues list (below)
    • (5) Quarterly objectives – review top priority objectives, state “on track” “off track” for completion by end of the quarter
    • (5) Customer and employee headlines – key, summarized information not full articles
    • (5) To-do review – things meant to be done within 1-2 weeks and are typically a part of issue resolution. 90% should be completed each week.
    • (60) Issues – can be added by anyone/anytime, call out top 3 and use IDO (Issue, Discuss, Outcome), Outcome = new to-do, long-term issue, or resolved
    • (5) Recap, rate, and conclude – recap to-do list, rate meeting 1-10, and conclude
  • Issue Resolution Management: The key part of a meeting is the issues section. Throughout the week any meeting attendee can add an issue to the issues list which will be reviewed in the following meeting. Instead of phone calls and emails disrupting the flow during a workday, issues are tabled and addressed at the next meeting. Savant’s method for resolving issues is called IDO – Identify, Discuss, and determine an Outcome (e.g., a new to-do or long-term issue).
    • Identify: What is the issue? This needs to be clearly articulated and written down before discussion begins.
    • Discuss: Open floor discussion about the issue including differing opinions, ideas on how to address the issue, etc. Once the issue has been discussed there will inevitably be an outcome.
    • Outcome: Most of the time the outcome will be a “to-do” for someone on the Leadership Team (for Leadership Team meetings). Sometimes the issue is moved to the long-term issues list where it will be discussed at a quarterly meeting; other times it may turn out that no further action is needed. Usually, everyone will agree with the solution, but when agreement isn’t unanimous the highest-ranking person in the meeting makes the decision.
  • There are three possible outcomes:
    • To-do (to solve it or to move it forward)
    • Long-term issue (don’t need to address now but don’t want to forget about it – addressed at the next quarterly offsite)
    • Resolved

In this blog we covered the importance of leadership team alignment and meeting effectiveness. This will be followed by a discussion of the leadership team’s mindset and your company’s purpose, values, and culture.