November 26, 2020

Time to Rethink Client Review Meetings?

Remember the days when you could sit in a theatre?
A real, honest-to-goodness live theatre?
You know, that place with people packed together cheek to jowl?

(Well, OK. Maybe not quite that close)
But certainly breathing and tripping and coughing and laughing all over each other.

That place with actors and singing and dancing and orchestras…
with passion and tragedy and hugging and kissing, and all that?

The last time for me began with a luverly, laughter-inducing moment of surprise.
I had no idea where Wendy and her sister were taking me…
until I was standing, gawping at the theatre doors.

It was a time when the dream of me singing (really?) beloved songs, just a few feet from the stage…
…became my childlike reality.

With throat-aching emotion, I hummed to “Sunrise. Sunset”
And I was bouncing and swaying in my seat to the phrases of “If I Were a Rich Man”.

But the rhythm that captured my heart and body was one of the earliest songs in this musical… Fiddler On The Roof.
It was the song known by audiences worldwide as “Tradition!”

This musical portrayed a village – little Anatevka – so steeped in conventions and rituals and habit…
They openly admitted that they’d forgotten why they were following their religious traditions at all.

In fact, the hero of the story – Tevye – painfully discovered what happens…
when conventions and rituals and comfortable habits don’t allow us to cope with the world changing around us.

My observation is that our meetings – with clients, with our team – can fall into the same life-consuming trap.

“Client Review Meetings? We do them… because we believe we should do them!
It’s what you’re supposed to do. Isn’t it?”

I’ve lost track of the countless skilled, caring leaders who admit to “tedious, uninspiring review meetings with clients”

Moreover, they admit that these meetings are often one way to justify their annual fees.
”We do them, because clients have come to expect them.”

And with teams?
”Well, this is how we keep in touch with each other. How we get stuff done.”

Then, when they explain the agenda and content of such meetings…
I wonder they get anybody to attend at all!

A strong Tradition often arises from a deep, meaningful purpose or event.
Honouring it can allow us to “keep our balance” and retain perspective…
in a topsy-turvy, transient, often trivialising world.

Routine. Habit. Ritual.
These become comfort blankets… where very little happens that changes, lifts, elevates.

How can we tell the difference between the two (very different quality of) business meetings?
I’ll give you a clue.

In one type of meeting we create “Output”… Action Points to prove how much busy work we’re doing to justify the meeting.

In a more meaningful meeting we create “Outcomes”… which engender enriching improvements in people’s lives.

I invite you to think about it.

Because understanding the difference could elevate everything within – and connected to – your firm.

Because, when you ‘get it’…
So many people in your ‘audience’ will start singing a different song.
Dancing a different dance.
Hearing a different tune.

And – since they’re watching you – you’ll need to be up there.
Leading the show.
With a tradition worthy of an ovation.