Posts tagged “Meetings


Posted on August 1, 2015


In 2008, Brad and I were in Bogata, Colombia for meetings with a Central America region leadership team. We presented in a sort of villa above the city, addressed a few questions, and sat down not fully knowing how well our material was received. The next presenter was an internal technology representative and two minutes into his session, a verbal melee ensues – that’s bullsh*t!, it’s not my job, it is your f*cking job, we have motherf*cking this or that person, etc. Brad and I glanced at each other across the room. No one cursed at us…I guess we did ok. After the session, one of the local client representatives who worked with us on the project slid next to me at the bar. “You…

Servicing the Meeting

Posted on January 31, 2015


January has been a busy month for me with workshops at multiple clients in addition to the usual post-holiday project ramp-up. Workshop weeks are always interesting opportunities to see how participants interact, what topics dominate the discussion and how our team services the meeting. Our activities usually include preparing materials in advance of the session, facilitating during the session and following-up on decisions after the session. For multi-day workshops, this cycle can repeat every day – and evening, in some cases – in an effort to accelerate output with the client. The ways in which team members service the meeting can vary drastically. For example: In effect, I had a partner invite himself to a session, walk in unprepared and give bad information. I had a…

All Too Familiar

Posted on January 12, 2014


A client requests bids for ten non-negotiable outputs. One bidder is selected for the ten, and project work begins. Time passes. The client stops one day and says, “Tell me again why we’re doing eight and nine?” This scenario is all too familiar. As administrative as project charters sound, as time consuming as business cases seem and as contrived as guiding principles appear, completing them up front may crystallize the why and provide the framework for future activities. *

Bob Nardelli Speaks

Posted on September 13, 2013


Bob Nardelli, the former Chrysler and Home Depot CEO, spoke at an event I attended this week. Consistent with his hard-nosed reputation, he referenced a Wide World of Sports “the thrill of victory…and the agony of defeat” perspective on business. (He actually reversed the quote, mentioning the agony part first. Read into that if you so choose.) His remarks touched on a variety of topics including: Approach to business growth: 1) enhance the core, 2) extend the business and 3) expand the market Thoughts on organizational progress: internal rate of change must be greater than the external rate of change Notable CEO trends: an increasing number of constituents to please, a great focus on quarterly earnings-per-share and the certainty of uncertainty Naturally he made…

The Appeal of Strategy

Posted on August 24, 2013


As I was finishing graduate school, it was remarkable how many career discussions revolved around potential job titles and how many classmates yearned for a “strategy” role…not necessarily strategic in nature but strategic in title. Business Analyst or Consultant? Not interested. Strategic Business Analyst or Consultant? Now we’re talking. At times, there was more concern with the label of the role than the nature of the role. I had a bit of a flashback this week in an account meeting. On a continuum between commodity supplier and strategic partner, how are you perceived by your buyer? Strategic, definitely strategic. How much of their discretionary spend are you getting? Hmm, maybe 5-10%. Have you done joint planning to lay out their upcoming key initiatives and…

A Customer Perspective

Posted on August 2, 2013


Far too many discussions in large organizations occur with no mention of the customer. Many meetings I attend focus on the organization itself, and participants usually look through the lens of their business area (e.g., product line, function, geography, etc.) rather than considering a decision from a customer’s perspective. It seems that as a business grows, the focus becomes more about sustaining – and sometimes improving – the internal infrastructure of the organization. Or in some cases, the focus is pleasing a customer proxy. Customer benefits become only tangentially related to daily activities. A slight exception in my experience occurs when office locations are physically connected to tangible places of business (e.g., production plants, distribution centers, sales locations, etc.). Seeing products moving through a warehouse,…

Start with Why

Posted on April 12, 2013


I attended a project team session this week for a client that has been working on an improvement program for over a year. Over halfway through the two-hour discussion (my first with the team), a project leader said, “You know, while we’re talking about our project routines, we really should define what this program is and is not.” He went on to share that the project goals, duration and outcomes were all ambiguous resulting in confusion, lack of progress and a generally poor work environment (some weeks I’m a project priest hearing confession). You have to start with why. Why are we doing this? Why are we doing this today? Simon Sinek calls it the golden circle. For improvement projects, it often relates to…