Operational Cadence and Rhythm A.K.A Meetings
There is a thousand and one memes about meetings because the general sentiment is that ‘it could have been an email’.
As a business operations professional, one of the things that always showed up at my desk was ‘meeting cadence’ often disguised as ‘operational cadence/rhythm’. Basically, this means ‘we have too many meetings or they are not good enough; figure out what an effective model for meetings is for us’. But the underlying concepts of operational cadence/rhythm are:
- Are we executing on our strategy? What is the progress and do we need to adjust strategy based on new things that came up?
- Are we resolving blockers so teams can succeed?
- Ae we collaborating and communicating enough?
Operational rhythm is a core part of business operations, and I have done this at multiple companies, large and small. The is no one size fits all because it really depends on many things and most importantly the company culture. I could write a book on this, but today I just want to share a high-level process, a base model from a book I really like, and some interesting reads I found on this topic.
The Simple Process to taking on this task
- Inventory: Make a list of all meetings in an excel file with key information:
1) Objective: What is the purpose of the meeting and how is it structured?
2) People: Who attends the meeting?
3) Time: When and at what frequency does the meeting happen?
- Needs: Evaluate for redundancies, frequency, and objectives. Then use those insights to build a model for operational cadence based on that.
- Iterate: Things change and the model should evolve as the landscape changes, so evaluate and iterate on an ongoing basis.
Here is a meeting model at the simplest level:
- Annual meetings: Set targets and strategy (2–3 days)
- Quarterly meetings: Review results and adjust the strategy (1–2 days)
- Monthly meetings: Check and correct deviations (2–3 hours)
- Weekly meetings: Track and monitor execution (1 hour)
As part of job where I was taking on this task, my boss bought me a book that is completely based on meetings: Death by Meeting — A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni. I really enjoyed reading this book. The meeting model shared in this book is a great base model for building an operational cadence. And I especially love how it analogizes to television shows and movies.
Here are some great articles and resources on meetings:
An operating rhythm is about ensuring that certain vital activities are performed in a consistent manner to a high degree of excellence both across a business and within the business. The key aim being to drive efficiency, effectiveness and therefore productivity