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How do you focus your team for action?

How do you get your team to focus and move forward effectively?  A fellow CEO recently told me of her method of assuring positive movement within her team.  She holds a weekly meeting of her direct reports, and asks them to find three important but actionable items for the group to work on if not complete during the following week.

She claims that, by reducing the number of issues to three, her team is better able to startegy+4_smbfdevote mental and physical resources to a solution than if she allowed her meetings to address a laundry list of issues faced by each of its members.

There is a theory about agile leadership that has been advanced by a number of business book authors, and this CEO’s method fits within that concept.  A group moves in a much more agile manner if it can be directed to focus all of its resources on just a few issues.

[Email readers, continue here…] She encourages her group to make fast, fact–based decisions on which alternatives to pursue, prioritizing their actions and those of their direct reports toward achievement of a goal or a solution quickly and efficiently.

We all can benefit from this lesson.  There are three kinds of agile focuses for such group meetings:

Market agility, in which potential opportunities are being created by changes in the market (such as cloud computing for technology companies);

Decision agility, where members generate creative alternatives to attack problems or opportunities quickly and innovatively; and

Execution agility, where members of the group inspire the organization to execute in a new direction and adjust course as events unfold.

The lesson is powerful but simple.  Keep your management meetings focused upon overcoming no more than three actionable problems or opportunities each week.  Delegate to empower those members to work in the most agile and effective manner.  Follow through with a check of progress to show support and interest.

  • Michael O'Daniel

    The rule of three is powerful juju, mon.

  • Nadine Taft

    Great post and reminder as too many times, teams are spread too thin with too many projects and priorities with no clear direction or focus.

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