Spending our lives in business or family meetings is a huge commitment of time and energy. In order to make those meetings most effective, we do best when we pay particular attention to the degree of past, present and future focus in meeting time.
In board meetings, often a pattern of focus on past performance develops into an expectation of what board meetings should be. At some point, the board begins getting frustrated that too much time is being spent on last quarter and not enough attention is being given to issues facing the company in the present, or future. This tension can bubble up and cause the board to question its meeting practices. Usually this results in movement towards a stronger and more robust board meeting process, with greater focus on responding to today and planning for tomorrow
Shareholder groups often experience this same pattern: the shareholder meeting consists mainly of a review of what has happened in the past. This may continue for a few years, but at some point as the shareholders begin to get anxious about the future. They begin to ask where they are going as a group, and how the entity or the assets they own will help them achieve their goals. Just as in boards, a process of meeting renewal frequently results in a shift of focus to primarily present concerns and future direction.
While it is easy drop into routines and use templates that can be repeated from meeting to meeting, engagement will typically be higher when the board, shareholder group, or even a family group (for those of you hold family meetings) ask the question: “What is our ideal balance of focusing on past performance and history, present situations and pressing conditions, and future direction and strategic intent?”