Achieving the 90/10 Ratio: Improving Meeting Efficiency for Success

Some of your organization’s best minds fill the boardroom for a scheduled strategy meeting. This meeting presents a valuable opportunity to harness their expertise and identify solutions to the most pressing issues facing your strategy. However, a significant portion of the session is consumed by presenting and explaining the problems to the attendees, leaving minimal time for seeking solutions and your meeting efficiency is lacking.

Unfortunately, this scenario is a lot more common than you’d think. Typically speaking, organizations spend 90% of every meeting presenting problems and are left with around only 10% of their time to find actionable solutions. In a one-hour meeting, that’s just 6 minutes. This imbalance in meeting structure inadvertently impedes strategic progress. 

The goal for such meetings should be the opposite. The first 5 or 6 minutes should be spent on presenting problems, while the remaining 90% should be dedicated to brainstorming and creating a roadmap towards resolution.

The negative impact unproductive meetings have on your strategy

Unproductive meetings undermine strategic planning and hinder growth. Here are three major negative impacts that result from these unproductive sessions:

  1. Limited time for issue comprehension and solution formulation. As these meetings introduce issues to the participants for the first time, they’re given very little time to process the new information. More often than not, they’ll have follow-up questions before they can even start to think of actionable solutions. Without sufficient time to process the information, any solutions presented might lack depth or innovation.  
  2. Waste of time and resources. When you consider the salaries of everyone in attendance, strategy meetings can easily add up to a significant amount of spend. If we spend valuable time solely discussing problems without identifying solutions, we turn these sessions into an exorbitant waste of resources.
  3. No guidance for the frontline team. When meetings don’t produce solutions, the people working on the frontlines of your strategy are left without a roadmap. This absence of clear guidance forces them to grapple with challenges independently, often in emergency mode, without strategic direction or support.

Here’s how you can run efficient meetings that prioritize solution-oriented discussion.

Tips for achieving the 90/10 ratio (the right way)

To achieve the desired 90/10 ratio in your strategy meetings, strategy leaders must streamline processes, from timely progress updates to utilizing the appropriate tools. Fine-tuning these elements is crucial for transforming meetings into dynamic hubs for proactive solutions.

Here are key strategies that ensure meetings prioritize actionable solutions, driving productive outcomes.

1. Schedule a standing meeting

Establish a regular meeting cadence, whether it’s monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly. This routine gathering allows the team to review strategic planning outcomes consistently.

2. Collect status updates in a timely manner

Ensure timely collection of strategy updates from various departments and individuals before the scheduled meeting. These updates serve as the foundation for discussion and decision-making.

3. Send attendees a pre-read

Distribute a pre-read, ideally a few days before the meeting, detailing the current status and issues. This pre-read gives attendees time to process information, reducing the need for time-consuming questions during the session.

4. Shift towards a problem-solving mindset

Transitioning from a problem-identification mindset to a problem-solving one is pivotal for effective strategy discussions. Encourage the team to arrive prepared and ready to share at least one or two potential solutions to the problems they were given in the pre-read. This fosters an environment where proposed solutions are welcomed and discussed.

5. Create and set the agenda

Organize the meeting agenda based on categorized items. Say red items are those that are currently facing issues, yellow is for works in progress, and green is for completed tasks. These items are your agenda. You start by reviewing the red items, move on to the yellow, and leave some time at the end to present the green ones. 

6. Set clear to-dos and action points at the end of the meeting

Ensure discussions lead to actionable outcomes with specific to-dos and action points for your frontline team members. Assign timely due dates to resolve issues and prevent indefinite back-and-forth discussions.

7. Celebrate your successes!

Allocate time in the meeting to celebrate achievements and highlight successes — in other words, your green items. This boosts morale and acknowledges progress made on strategic objectives.

8. Use a strategy tool for governance

A specialized tool like AchieveIt streamlines the strategy process, which, as we’ve discussed, positively affects your meeting cadence. It automates updates, ensuring timely reminders and easy access to information. AchieveIt establishes a standardized format for presenting updates, categorizing them for quick focus during meetings. This tool cultivates accountability and sets clear expectations for reports, meetings, and participation. AchieveIt helps transform meetings into purpose-driven, solution-oriented sessions, fostering a productive 90/10 problem-solving ratio.

New year’s resolution? Elevate your strategic processes in 2024

Prepare for a more productive year ahead by honing your strategic planning skills with our latest podcast episode, Elevate Your Game: Strategic Prep for 2024. As you gear up for the new year, enhance not only your organizational processes but also your meeting efficiency, thereby improving your problem-solving abilities.

Featuring guest Lindsey LeFaivre, Director of Customer Success at Achieveit, this episode will help you embrace a proactive mindset by understanding the significance of productive strategy meetings in driving effective decision-making.

Explore key insights into navigating the complexities of annual planning, crafting effective KPIs, and optimizing communication within your organization. Gain invaluable tips on prioritizing time allocation and learning from planning mistakes, all aimed at elevating the quality of your strategy discussions.

Tune in to “Elevate Your Game: Strategic Prep for 2024” on The Strategy Gap Podcast and gear up to transform your strategic planning process, setting the stage for a more prosperous and solution-oriented year ahead.

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Meet the Author  Chelsea Damon

Chelsea Damon is the Content Strategist at AchieveIt. When she's not publishing content about strategy execution, you'll likely find her outside or baking bread.

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