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Exercise: Planning Your Agenda

This lesson is a part of an audio course Facilitating High Performing Meetings by Ross Maynard

Sales in the South Area of your business are 30% higher than in the North Area, for a similar number of staff. Likewise, the contribution margin for the South Area is 65% but only 50% in the North Area. Customer satisfaction, by contrast, stands at 95% for the North Area and 80% for the South Area.

You are planning a business meeting to review the performance that underlies these figures.

  • Question 1: Identify four agenda items that will provide a structure to work through the performance metrics and identify the reasons behind the data.

  • Question 2: Consider whether it is fair to compare the North Area to the South Area. Identify three reasons why such a comparison might not be fair.

Pause this lesson while you consider your answers.

Welcome back.

Question 1 was about the agenda for the meeting. My agenda items for the meeting would comprise:

  1. Agree the strategic priorities of the business. Is it sales, profitability, repeat business, customer satisfaction, or something else?

  2. Identify the drivers behind the objectives. For example, if contribution margin is an objective, the driver behind it might be boosting shareholder returns; providing improvement benefits for staff; funding further expansion and growth; and so on.

  3. Review, in detail, the performance of the two areas against the agree objectives. Identify the root causes of the performance in the areas, and the reasons behind it.

  4. Develop action plans for each area to improve performance – addressing weaknesses and building on strengths.

Question 2 was to consider whether it is fair to compare the performance of the two areas.

With so little data, we cannot truly say whether it is fair or not to compare the two business areas. However, there are reasons why it might not be fair to compare the areas. These reasons include:

  1. The business might have different types of customers in each area. For example, larger corporate customers in one area; and on smaller businesses in another.

  2. There might be differences in geography. I live in Scotland. You could never compare the performance of a business unit in the south or central Scotland with that in the north. The large travel distances and more severe weather problems alone mean that the south is likely to do better against many KPIs.

  3. There could be differences in the products and services sold. Just as there might be different types of customer, there may also be different products and services that suit the customers of each area.

  4. It is possible that there are differences in the availability of skilled staff. One area may find it easier (and perhaps cheaper) to recruit and retain skilled staff.

  5. There may be differences in the assets deployed. One area may have had a more recent investment in its asset base, which could drive improved performance.

Thank you for listening to this lesson. In our next lesson, we discuss how to facilitate your meeting.

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Written by

Ross Maynard