Sound Bites

How Fast is Your Operating Rhythm?

with Deidre Paknad, WorkBoard CEO

Every business has an operating rhythm. It may not be intentional and it may not be efficient, but they have one.

Every business has a method for describing its strategy and painting its course forward. There may be a retreat for the executive team, or a discussion with an expensive consultant, to come up with the strategy, and a series of townhalls usually followed by a series of activities to get the organization aligned on that strategy. Then come monthly business reviews, Ops reviews, cadence calls, weekly status reporting, monthly status reporting… Those are all parts of the operating rhythm — how we set the course forward, align on the strategy, and drive accountability and execution for it.

For most companies, that operating rhythm is entirely people fueled, and consists of meetings and slide decks, and more slide decks and more meetings — and yet more slide decks and more meetings.

The problem is that it is an extraordinary amount of effort to pull everyone into a meeting and prepare all of the materials — and then by the time we get to the meeting, the facts in the materials are no longer true. The facts have changed, the circumstances have changed, the data has changed. And then there’s another cadence meeting in 2 weeks — and the team repeats the entire exercise over again. All the effort to pull the materials together, all the effort to pull the people into the meeting, and the facts are no longer accurate by the time of the meeting. In fact, many organizations spend the entire biz review or ops review debating what’s on the slides.

The transition to a Digital Operating Rhythm is an opportunity to get all the benefits that a smart operating rhythm has to offer. Those benefits are:

  • Everyone is clear on the strategy
  • Everyone’s efforts are aligned to the strategy
  • The organization is driving forward
  • Everyone knows exactly where we are now and how much more needs to be done to achieve the strategy
  • And the entire organization knows that all the time and everyone’s on the same page.

To get those benefits, what we really need to do is shift away from people driven, slide driven, meetings driven ways of connecting the strategy, the operations and the accountability, and towards a systematic approach.

OKRs are a super important part to how we align, but automating business reviews and weekly status reporting are equally important to moving from an ad-hoc, labor intensive, and not very reliable operating rhythm to a Digital Operating Rhythm that really helps you accelerate strategy execution and make the most of the resources that you have.