Five “Must-Have” Rhythms of Great Companies

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On October 15, 2012

Back in 1931 Duke Ellington composed the classic It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)—a song that captured an essential component of what made jazz music so special. Rhythm is essential for music—and for business.

If you want your business to succeed—to “swing”—there needs to be a certain rhythm to your internal communications and planning. It’s important that key members of your team get together regularly to keep things moving and to make sure everyone is playing off the same sheet of music. But the rhythm of these meetings—like their purposes—changes according to need.

1. Daily Huddle: This is a fast-paced meeting. It’s a chance to touch base quickly and make one another aware of any “fires” that need to be put out—or opportunities that may have escaped the team’s attention. These meetings should be short—in terms of length and detail. It’s like a huddle in football, and sometimes your team may be going with a “no-huddle” approach. That doesn’t mean no communication; it just means quick “check-offs” of things that need to happen.

2.  Weekly Meeting: These meetings are a little longer and a bit more detailed. They probably include progress reports or updates. They’re not strategy meetings, but they are good for a certain level of accountability. And they often provide your first chance to see if trends are forming. A missed forecast for one week may not mean anything, but if the pattern continues for 2–3 weeks it may be an indicator that something is “off.”

3. Monthly Meeting: These meetings will probably last a bit longer than your weekly meetings. Each responsible area represented will most likely present reports (verbal or written) about the status of specific tasks. One of the advantages of a monthly meeting is that a four-week view of something often presents a more accurate picture of what’s really going on. These are still not “strategy” meetings, but they can begin to give you a picture for how well your strategies are working.

4. Quarterly Planning: These meetings should be longer because you’ll want each member of your team to be able to highlight activities and data that give you an accurate picture of whether or not you are accomplishing your long-range strategic objectives. Quarterly planning meetings are also the place where you make necessary adjustments to your strategies.

5. Annual/Strategic Planning: Many companies take a full day or two for their annual strategic planning sessions. These meetings are critical for reviewing where you’ve been as a company (philosophically and financially). They are important for establishing specific long-range goals. These meetings also play a huge role in determining the character of a company. This is where you get buy-in for big ideas and innovations. But that doesn’t happen without discussion and debate. And the best meetings happen when participants have time to prepare. That means doing homework to accurately present the facts about what they’ve done (accountability). But it also means having time to think/dream about big ideas for the future.

Each meeting is crucial—and yet very different. But they need to occur with a regular rhythm in order to keep the company swinging along. Because, “It don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that swing!”