A regular heartbeat of focused activity is important in creating a successful business. This requires having clearly defined things to get done, and regular activities to focus on doing them. Together this becomes the pulse of the company.
We have this hierarchy of things to do:
Purpose: The reason why our company exists. Almost never changes. All other things to do work towards this.
Ambitions: Specific goals we dream of achieving on the road towards our purpose in the next three years. Only changes every three years.
Big Rocks: a short list of the really important things that need to happen to advance our business towards our ambitions. This list helps avoid being distracted by other noise that comes up and demands attention. Big rocks always take priority. Changes quarterly.
Problems: We actively work to find problems in our business. These are problems in the sense that a crossword clue or a maths question is a problem to be solved, not just a problem in the sense of a crisis or failure. They may be things that stand in the way of delivering our big rocks, things that frustrate people in their daily work, unknown\/undecided things to be figured out, and more. Changes weekly.
Ideas: We generate ideas to address the identified problems. These ideas then get discussed and selected for action. May change daily.
These are the things we focus on in running our business. To keep us focused on these we have a set of regular activities that happen to create the pulse…
Annual Reviews: Two-day retreats well away from the day-to-day bustle. It’s a chance to learn from a whole year, and look at our progress towards our ambitions. What should our big rocks be? What problems can be identified on our path ahead? Are we doing the right things and doing things right?
Quarterly Reviews: One-day retreats in which as many of the team as possible get together. We review the last three months, and plan the next three. We focus on big rocks and problems.
Monthly Updates: We review the status of big rocks, key measures (sales, finance etc) and the solving of problems. We highlight new problems to be solved.
Management Mondays: Every week management review the progress towards our big rocks. We seek new problems and capture them onto the list. We triage the problems list. We review the other business information such as sales and finance. We report back to the team.
Future Fridays: Every Friday we focus on the work we've planned to improve the business and develop our own skills.