Weekly, Jour Fixe or the Queen of Meetings

Weekly, Jour Fixe or the Queen of Meetings

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One of the first meetings I’ve always introduced to companies over the last ten years is a very short one, the so-called Daily – I stole that from agile software development or borrowed it when I had the pleasure of introducing “Scrum” to a company a few years ago.

But beyond that, of course, there are other important meetings that are now less about sharing and more about how we want to make decisions.

So this time we’re talking about the queen of the meeting, the so-called jour fixe or weekly meeting.

In jour fixe, generally, there’s a lot of shuffling around. People are not prepared and something different is addressed every time. An incredible amount is discussed, but nothing at the depth in which it should be done.

I read a good book on this a few years ago by Verne Harnish. Verne Harnish, the Rockefeller Habits was the name of it at the time (I think the book is now available in a newer edition). In it, I learned about a process for structuring meetings. 

People live by recognizing so-called patterns.

If I pass a certain piece of forest every day and it always looks the same, nothing happens. But if a saber-toothed tiger is waiting suddenly for me in the bushes, I notice that something is different: I see the difference. But if it looks the same every day, then I don’t see it.

It’s important that we structure all meetings the same way, because then we can see the changes in content better. As a rule, I use this:

The jour fixe always starts with a good story

It needs to be something exciting, funny, interesting, or positive. Why positive? When everyone is in a good mood, the meeting goes a lot better. You can try it sometime.

The second point:

We always talk about the numbers in our jour fixe for about ten minutes.

Namely what goals have we set ourselves and where do we stand right now? This ensures that everyone is on the same level. After that, we always talk about what kind of feedback there was.

This feedback comes from both co-workers and customers. Why is that important? On the one hand, of course, I need to understand how the product, the service, or whatever you’re selling is perceived by the customer. Are there any indications that we need to do something differently? And, of course, we always need feedback from co-workers.

We, as managers, are sometimes too far removed from operations.

Because we’re so far removed, we sometimes don’t realize when we’ve taken instructions or given orders that disrupt the normal flow.

But when co-workers give us feedback (what should be done differently, or can at least be done faster via the new German Continuous Improvement Process), that’s something that has to be discussed in management.

Why? Because changes can only be decided on in these weekly meetings.

Here you can say that makes sense. That’s right: all the divisional managers sit at the same table here. All of those concerned can decide that now we do things differently.

Extremely important.

Then we have an item that usually takes 30 minutes

This is the most important, biggest, and hardest of the company’s problems to solve .

How do you even determine which is actually the biggest problem? I’ll be happy to tell about that next time. But take this for what it’s worth – you’ve identified something that you desperately need to solve.

You’ve probably already had that experience in meetings where you discuss dozens of things. Nothing is finished, nothing is decided, and then, like the bow of a ship through a wave, you push away all the problems in front of you.

We once had a meeting about the relaunch of a website and talked about this relaunch until the topic was finished. That’s how it should be.

Now, of course, you may say, “But Kai, then all the other problems won’t be solved at all!” No.

That’s not the case, of course; the company doesn’t stop working.

The only difference is that the focus of management is on the biggest problem.

This problem must be worked through first. Once that is solved, we then get to a new level.

Then another important part of meetings:

Who – What – When – is usually forgotten

Who does what by when?

This can be written down, just like taking minutes. 

But we very rarely do even that – take minutes for the whole meeting. My expectation is that everyone involved should write down what they have to do themselves. However, if you really want to take minutes, they should clearly state: Who does what by when? This means you have a basis to work from and can also ask the next time: Did that happen, or did something not happen?

And at the very end of the jour fixe: One Phrase Close

You can see that this is, of course, from an American book, although there is also a German version. However, I found the American version easier and better to read, so “One Phrase Close.”

Everyone summarizes the meeting, which usually lasts about an hour once a week:

What was the most important thing they took away from a meeting?

This shows you, as a manager (and the others, of course), how a meeting can be perceived differently. After all, rarely does everyone say that they took away the same thing, so then you know what has stuck.

Are there other meetings that you also need to do on a regular basis or not?

Or how can you avoid the meeting madness? Do you have any comments? Post them to the LinkedIn group. Want a topic discussed? Please post it in the LinkedIn group! You’ll either get a response from me there, or I’ll take it on to make a blog post.

Photo by Leon on Unsplash

About the coach​

Kai Boyd has been a leader, trainer and facilitator since 1989. He supports leaders and their teams to work together effectively, trustfully and with ease. This involves each and everyone – in their respective roles and as people. Tailor-made formats and genuine attention enable potential to unfold and synergies to emerge.

The graduate industrial engineer, managing director and former management consultant knows the requirements of his clients from many perspectives. He works systemically, strength- and solution-oriented. Leading international teams as well as work and academic programs in the USA and the UK enable him to always contribute the international perspective.

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