We all know you must work ‘on’ your business as well as ‘in’ it. Working on your business is all about change: strategy not operations.

‘On’ activities include analysis, research, planning, experimentation and, wait for it, meetings.

And that’s where the bear-trap is to be found.

The question is do you have strategic meetings with your senior management team?  The answer is almost certainly yes. But are they tacked onto the end of an operational meeting?

The problem is focus. Operational issues call for a certain way of thinking whereas strategy requires a completely different mental state. It’s pretty much impossible to switch from one to the other in a few minutes.

Added to that; who feels like being strategic at the end of a meeting where people have been discussing operational details?

So, here are 3 things you can do to make sure your strategic meetings are massively productive: –

1.  Run them off-site.

Holding your meeting offsite will minimise the odds of attendees being dragged back into the day-to-day. People asking “if you have 5 minutes” or bumping into somebody in the kitchen who starts talking work with you are not going to help you get into the strategy headspace.

I would also recommend asking people to turn off their mobile phones for exactly the same reason. It’s not the 5 seconds that it takes to read a message that’s the problem but the place it makes your thoughts go to after you’ve read it, that causes the damage.

2.  Arrange the agenda in advance

Strategy is a journey not an event and focus is the key.  My advice is limit the meeting to one, or maybe two, items for discussion which you can circulate in advance to all attendees.  It’s also worth starting each item with everybody making their summary statement on it so it’s obvious who has, and has not, prepared in advance.

3.  Be held accountable

Always keep a Notes/Actions/Decisions record as the meeting progresses. Each action will need a single person to be responsible for it and a date that the action should be completed by.  These actions will then be stripped out and circulated separately. They will also be the first agenda item, so people know if they commit to an action they will be expected to deliver on it.

Whilst scalability comes from deskilling sales activities; automating the new business development and empowering your management team these things come from working ‘on’ your business not just ‘in’ it.

Strategy meetings are an essential part working ‘on’ your business and as such I believe they deserve to be treated differently.