Back when I was President of Red Lion Controls, I got to indulge my creative side by designing a series of posters for our various meeting rooms. They were slightly tongue-in-cheek, with their World War II propaganda poster aesthetic and somewhat forced attempts to link to what were at the time the Spectris values, but they nonetheless made a series of important points.
The first, shown on the left, was about timekeeping, and the need to start and end meetings on schedule. Not only does good time discipline drive productivity, but it is also a mark of respect for your coworkers. There is nothing worse than someone turning up five minutes late for a meeting, and either expecting their colleagues to wait for them, or to provide a recap of what has already been discussed. And it’s even more problematic when it’s a leader.
If you’re the boss and you’re late, you’re not sending the message that you’re a high-powered executive who is busy dealing with important Matters of State: You’re demonstrating that you’re not in control, and that you don’t care about waste, or about other people.
The second, shown on the right, was about basic meeting etiquette: I’m not sure whether the No Device Use rule would fly these days, and with so many Zoom meetings, I suppose I should add something about muzzling your dog, but most of the rules I believe are worth repeating and enforcing.
The third, shown in its rightful central position, is about the customer, and a reminder to include their needs and requirements in every discussion. This, I believe, is the single biggest driver of success in a business: Find me a company that is focused on its customers, and you’ll have identified a success. And find me a company that is focused on its internal processes and systems and structures, and you’ll have identified a business that is on the road to ruin. While it might seem a stretch to begin with, just about every topic that a business considers can be referenced to customer needs, and taking even a minute in each meeting to ponder how that might be done is a powerful step on the way to achieving a truly customer-centric organization.
How we run our meetings says a lot about our businesses.
It’s worth taking time to do it right.