As you would expect, we hold a management meeting every month.
The meeting is structured around a number of headings:
F = First is for customers service excellence and profitable sales growth
O = One Team – head counts and staff measures, etc.
U = Utilisation and Productivity
R = Results Matter – quality reports, GMP and Technical, etc.
A = Adaptability to change
Y = Year-on-year cost reduction/value
E = Environment
S = Safety
The eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted that by the strangest of coincidences the format also reflects the name of our company. Actually, that’s not strictly true – it isn’t really a coincidence: forward planning has always been one of our strengths.
The meeting comes to a close with a round-table opportunity to raise ‘hot topics’ and our old friend ‘AOB’.
Every member of the management team is extremely comfortable with this format; and therein lays an issue: ‘comfortable’.
AOB shouldn’t be ‘comfortable’.It should be the opportunity to raise and challenge those important issues, often the most topical ones that have not been covered elsewhere.
Typically the earlier parts of the meeting squeeze the available time to a point where the Team rarely has the time (or energy) to raise and properly debate a significant number of points under AOB. And that’s where my campaign starts.
We thought long and hard about what this means: every month we have, collected in one room, all of the heads of all of the departments in the business. That’s a powerful tool that we can deploy against any number of challenges. Not only that, fresh eyes will often suggest different approaches to questions that have left those most closely involved scratching their heads.
So, instead of ‘comfortable’, we decided to create ‘uncomfortable’ – counter-intuitively, we changed the agenda to start the management meetings with ‘Any Other Business’.
The initial discomfort rapidly became recognised as an opportunity to air those issues that the collected experience in the room is best-placed to solve in the most effective way; with the time and the freshness to deploy that collected wisdom properly.
After even the very first meeting, every single departmental manager reported it as the ‘best management meeting…ever.’
So, let me end this blog not with the time-honoured words ‘The End’ but in true AOB campaigning style with ‘The Beginning’.
A very happy and prosperous new year, to you all.
Managing Director of Fourayes, vice-chairman of English Apples & Pears, Fruitician and Mad Scientist.