Are “offsites” off for the foreseeable future? In the midst of the current pandemic, social distancing recommendations and travel restrictions have made it difficult, if not impossible, for organizations to convene teams of any size within their offices, much less at sessions outside them. But some of the meaty, controversial types of topics often reserved for the rarefied atmosphere of an offsite need to happen now more than ever. So we need to learn how to do them virtually, just as we’re doing with every other vital work process.
SOG’s perspectives have helped develop the latest thinking on offsite meetings, strategy conversations, and executive alignment.
As companies scramble to protect employees from the spreading coronavirus with travel restrictions and remote work arrangements, there’s a distinct possibility that in-person meetings with teams, customers, or suppliers may be canceled for days — or potentially weeks. Under the best of circumstances, as soon as one or two attendees “dial in” to any meeting, productivity starts to suffer.
A recent Conference Board report indicates “recession” is the top external concern for U.S. CEOs as they enter the new decade, displacing cybersecurity – last year’s #1 choice. While a looming recession may have come up in the context of another discussion, or as a brief hallway conversation, it’s the rare management team that has spent even an hour or two discussing and collectively preparing for the possibility of recession in a meaningful way.
The tension in the room was rising. The group had been at it for hours. In fact, this same team of 12 had been through essentially the same discussion three times before but could never seem to reach a decision. They just couldn’t resolve the issue: Should the organization divest their South American operation completely or try to shift to a different strategy?
At the end of a meeting, most leaders know that they should recap next steps and determine who is accountable for each. As prescribed in the commonly used responsibility models — RACI, RAPID, and the others — accountability should fall to one (and only one) person per item, even if the work involved requires input and contributions from others.
A recent study found that over two-thirds of large organizations struggle to implement their strategies. Over the years of working with companies across industries on strategy execution and strategic program management efforts, we’ve identified seven major pitfalls that cause significant issues for organizations executing new strategies.
Consider this scenario: Your company is in the middle of its annual budget process. You have forty investment requests on the table that you need to consider, and you’ve planned to host a day-long management meeting to discuss and debate them.
The strategy meeting seemed to go smoothly. At the end of his presentation, Bill asked if anyone had concerns, there were a few questions, but no one raised any significant obstacles or issues, and a few of the more senior team members spoke up in support of the plan. But, later that week, one of the meeting attendees came into his office…
Let’s face it. Board meetings, investor days, activist shareholders, keeping customers happy, responding to competitive threats – the challenges you face are often both important and urgent, and the attention they draw from senior executives may well be fully justified.
Recently, in a pre-offsite meeting survey we asked a senior management team, “What have been the major factors inhibiting their organization from more growth?” The number one answer by far: Too many initiatives…
The wonder of the Amazon Kindle was not the technology. It was the business model that the device represented. Amazon’s move from books into general online retail was hardly surprising. One-click ordering was insightful. Free delivery with Amazon Prime was unexpected.
Stand-up meetings have become a routine part of the workday in many organizations, spread largely by the adoption of agile and other innovative management methods. These are typically brief, daily progress sessions through which an initiative team updates and coordinates efforts.
When a sports team finishes a game, they usually don’t gather up their gear and immediately leave the court, rink, field or locker room. The players and coaches take a few minutes for a post-game meeting – a ritual that’s just as important as the pre-game warm-up.
How many times have you walked out of a theoretically important strategy meeting—a leadership offsite, a C-suite pow-wow, a sit-down with the board—thinking, That was a great discussion, but I’m not sure we really accomplished anything? More often than not, the problem lies not in what did or didn’t happen at the meeting itself.
You’ve spent hours preparing for the meeting. The objectives are clear. The agenda is tight. Relevant material was distributed to attendees in advance. Smartphones are put away, and your team seems focused and ready to work. The conversation begins, but after 10 minutes of good discussion on the first agenda item…
Leaders strive to be decisive. But all too often their well-reasoned decisions are reopened by bosses and colleagues, or worse ignored, which slows down progress and breeds resentment, confusion, and paralysis. How can you make sure that the decisions you make at your next strategy offsite stick?
Everywhere I go, executive suites are being reconfigured so that the entire top team can have their offices together. To fit everyone on a single floor, companies are ripping out large private offices and dedicated conference rooms and building smaller, glass-walled offices, flexible conference rooms, self-service kitchens, and informal huddle spaces.
Executives tell me their teams make decisions all the time. “Bob,” a CEO will say, “I know you think that individuals — not groups — make most decisions. But that’s not true. My team and I make lots of decisions together.”
In a recent post on Fortune.com, Doreen Lorenzo, the president of frog, raised a provocative question: Are we living in a post-CEO world? The short answer is no, and here’s why.
When I was at the Dial Corporation (makers of Dial soap) in the 1980s, executives working at corporate headquarters went through a now-antiquated ritual every day at 11:45. Meetings and phone calls would end and most of the directors, senior directors, various breeds of vice presidents, division presidents, and occasionally our CEO would make their way to the top floor executive dining room for lunch.
Gail McGovern, the president and CEO of the American Red Cross, assumed leadership of this iconic organization at a particularly tough time. In 2008, when she was chosen from among 170 candidates, the institution’s reputation had been tarnished by the response to Hurricane Katrina and by a string of leadership scandals. A thousand employees, most of them in the Red Cross headquarters, had recently been laid off…
In his recent Fast Company piece “Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch,” author Shawn Parr joins a long list of commentators, psychologists, authors, and consultants who’ve used that dietary line to argue that company culture is a greater determinant of success than competitive strategy.
Self-proclaimed shareholder advocates have extended Sarbanes-Oxley reforms deeper and deeper into the business. Now some are going too far, pushing those regulations into areas that intrude on effective corporate administration.
Seventy corporate directors got together at Stanford Law School in January 2013 to hear Bob Frisch’s talk, “Five Strategy Conversations Every Board Should Have”, hosted by the National Association of Corporate Directors and the Arthur Rock Center for Corporate Governance.
The resignation of Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis has caused many business pundits to start writing eulogies for Blackberry maker Research in Motion, the company where they served as Co-CEOs.
We’ve always appreciated the timeliness of Martha Stewart’s advice: “It’s the first day of spring, folks. Time to clean your oven, replace the batteries in your smoke alarms, and rotate your mattresses!” And while we know it’s a few weeks before spring officially arrives, we thought we would follow in Martha’s footsteps and share four common issues that some of our clients are focused on now. Perhaps you should too…
For the past few decades a variety of specialists – coaches, psychologists, consultants – have been spending time with Senior Management Teams (SMT) in strategy meetings in order to get them to behave differently.
The word “accountable” can mean different things to different people. This is why delegation often backfires: The person taking on the task doesn’t know how much authority she has.
Listen to Bob Frisch, Strategic Offsites’ Managing Partner, speak with Matt Townsend on the Matt Townsend Show about Strategic Offsites’ latest Harvard Business Review articles on how to make meetings more effective.
It’s easy to equate crisp, clear, black-and-white decisions with good decisions. After all, the very definition of decisive includes words like “unmistakable,” “final,” and “conclusive.” Make the call, check the box, clear the decks, and move on to the next topic…
We surveyed approximately 225 managers to identify the extent to which their organizations are vulnerable to the negative effects of Simple Sabotage behaviors (even if they are not undertaken with malicious intent)…