Take Your Leadership Meeting to a Level 10 Using Office Planner

By Eric Newell | August 1, 2016

I've mentioned it a few times on our blog, but at Stoneridge Software we are practitioners of the Entrepreneurial Operating System as defined in the book "Traction" by Gino Wickman. As part of Traction, we meet as a leadership team every week for 90 minutes in what's called a "Level 10" meeting. The reason it's called a Level 10 meeting is that you are supposed to work to get better at the meeting until everyone scores the meeting as a 10.  If the score is less than 10, you have more refinement to do to get it right. We've been doing this now for 2 years, and we've had a lot of meetings less than 10, so we've come up with a lot of suggestions on how we can do better. Here are a few things we've worked on:

Detailed Agenda

One thing we did to make the session better is we came up with a defined agenda with start and end times for each segment (we're not always great at respecting the stop time, however).  Here's our detailed agenda for our meetings that run every Thursday from 8:30-10:00am.

Time Topic
8:30-8:35 Employee Updates and Headlines

  • During this time we share any key informational announcements about team members and any other personal successes leadership team members wish to share
8:35-8:40 Scorecard Review

  • We will review the weekly scorecard quickly - if there are suggestions for changes to the report or any key issues, we would create an issue for the issue list to discuss it further
8:40-8:45 Rock Review

  • We will review the rocks we have for the quarter - each owner or manager of the rock owner will provide insight if the rock is "on track" or what need to happen to get the rock back on track.  If there are any issues, we'd defer those to the issues list
8:45-8:50 Task Review

  • We briefly review the outstanding task list.  We would discuss any task that's overdue to try to get it back on track
8:50-9:50 Issues List

  • Before the meeting, or in the early parts of the meeting, leadership team members are asked to place items on the "Issues" list so they could be discussed.  Those items should be marked as high, medium or low so they can be appropriately prioritized during the meeting
  • Issues are prioritized by the group so the highest priority items in each of the high, medium and low groups are tackled
  • When an issue comes up, we'll work to Identify, Define and Solve the issue.  As we work on an issue, we need to identify the root cause, define what the issue is and provide a solution for the issue.  The solution likely results in new tasks - at the time of the issue solution, we would add a task or tasks to the task list to solve the issue or set up meetings for the relevant parties to bring the issue to resolution
  • For issues related to implementation projects, we would limit the discussion to ten minutes in the Leadership meeting and any further discussion would occur on a separate meeting
  • Personnel related issues can and should be discussed on the issues list.  If there's an issue pertaining to one of the leadership team members, they should have a chance to be briefed before the meeting to understand why it's being brought forward to the leadership group
  • If the team finishes the issues list (and once per quarter if not otherwise accommodated), we will review the Parking Lot items - longer term issues to manage
9:50-10:00 Wrap-up
- The first item during the wrap-up is to recap the tasks that were decided upon during the meeting
- Next we discuss anything that needs to be communicated to the team based on decisions made during the meeting
- Finally, we go around the room and ask each person to rate the meeting on a scale of 1-10. The goal of the meeting is to get ratings of 10; if anyone rates the meeting less than 8, you should ask them to make improvement suggestions for the next meeting

Expectations of Leadership Team Members

  • Going into each meeting, the leadership team should add issues to the Issues List that they wish to discuss during the meeting.  It's expected that each team member will add issues at least once per month
  • Leadership team members should be prepared to report on the rocks they own as well as any rocks owned by team members that report to them
  • Leadership team members should participate in the discussion and not be distracted by emails, etc. during the meeting

Mechanics of the Leadership Meeting

  • Each meeting will start promptly at 8:30 a.m. and conclude promptly at 10:00 a.m.
  • We will use screen sharing and audio for the meeting
  • We will meet in our local offices and share our webcam with members at other offices
  • Those members working from home would turn on their webcam as well
  • If someone is in transit, they can dial in from their phone without turning on their webcam
  • If one person cannot make the leadership meeting, the meeting will continue.  If two people cannot make the meeting, we will look to reschedule it to another time. If we find out late that two people cannot attend, the meeting will go forward as planned
  • Meeting minutes will be taken by the office admin and posted in the leadership team folder each week the following day after the meeting

We came up with such a detailed list to make sure we adhere to it each week and we clarify questions about how to go about doing something. It's definitely been a work in progress.

Using Office Planner

One key thing that's helped us run efficient meetings is a tool that's part of Microsoft's Office 365 platform called Planner.  Planner is a task board that allows you to classify tasks, provide details and checklists and share files related to a particular task. You can mark tasks as complete, in progress or not started so you have a sense of how you're progressing on each issue. We have four different boards we use in our Leadership Meetings:

  • Issue List - current issues that should be identified, discussed and solved.  We usually get through 4-7 of them in any given meeting, so it's possible they can remain on there for more than 1 meeting.  We don't like to keep them on the board for longer than two meetings.  Oftentimes, after discussing an issue, we move it to the To Do list, which is very easy to do in Planner.
  • To Do - these generally spawn from actions defined during the discussion of an Issue.  These should be tasks that can be completed in 14 days.  If the task should be completed by a department, the to-do should be moved to that department's To Do list.
  • Quarterly Rocks - these are a listing of the five rocks we take on each quarter with a checklist for the tasks that make up that rock.  Throughout the quarter we check off tasks within a rock as they are completed.
  • Parking Lot - this is where we put ideas, issues or long-term to-do's that we want to consider but are not an immediate need.  We review them once in the middle of the quarter and we put them on the list for consideration each quarter at our quarterly offsite meeting.

Here's a look at our Planner:


With Planner you can put down detailed information, attach files, pin links, develop checklists and comment on each task on your board:


The thing I like about using Planner the best is that I can update issues and to-do's during the meeting. Previously, I had to review the notes and go back and sort issues into to-do's and update all the statuses.  In Planner, I can click the upper left corner and move the task to the To Do board in one click.  If you are a subscriber to Office 365 (Level E1 or higher), Planner is included with your subscription.  To get to it, go to https://tasks.office.com.

I hope this helps you achieve a perfect 10 score at your Level 10 meetings. Having the right outline and the right tool has definitely increased our scores each week as we seek to consistently run perfect 10 meetings.

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