Shana Tova

Happy Jewish New Year!

And a little bit about the connection between this holiday and the planning of a successful end-of-year board meeting...

Every time I talk to customers and wish them a happy new year in September, I laugh and tell them that we Jewish people are lucky to have a new year at the end of the third quarter of the calendar year.

 

Some of them laugh because they already know my opinion on the subject… To my new clients I explain:

We, in Israel, have a unique advantage in that we summarize a year twice: once at the end of the third calendar quarter and once at the end of the last quarter.

 

Why is that so good?

As we know, when we look at our business practices, we relate differently to the four quarters:

At the end of the first quarter, we usually summarize the previous business year. At the end of the second quarter, we summarize six months of the current business year – this is the time when we address what is happening in operations, check where we are with regard to our targets and create a repair plan. The end of the third quarter is where our advantage comes: the end of the Hebrew year and the holidays of Tishrei.

 

On the one hand, a year ends for us, so that consciously or unconsciously, we look back at the end of the third quarter and examine our situation with a sense of summary. But in fact we know that we have a final quarter to “give a push” and reach the business results that we have designated for ourselves.

 

On the other hand, since a new year is beginning, we start to look to the future before the rest of the world. We are starting to look forward to the next goals, to more distant purposes, and creating “lists” and “resolutions to change for the better in the next year.”

 

Despite everything I’ve said so far, there’s one fact that doesn’t quite square with this beautiful theory I’ve developed.

If that’s the case, then why doesn’t everyone start planning the end-of-year meeting as soon as the Tishrei holidays are over?

 

Why don’t they implement the lists and the resolutions, as small and large as they may be, in the company?

 

Some, in general, hold the meeting only as part of ISO requirements  or other internal or external procedures.

 

End-of-year meeting

Of course, many companies have long understood that an end-of-year meeting is the end of a process, and not a goal in itself.

 

But, let’s face it – there is not one of us here who has not participated in a dreary meeting in which each manager in turn brings data, heavy spreadsheets – they show data that summarizes the past year and sometimes suggest goals for next year.

 

There’s a long discussion and wranging between the marketing manager, who explains that he didn’t meet the targets because the sales department… Because the Finance Department… Because the operating system, and so on and so on.

 

Of course, on the other side of the fence, the CFO explains that the sales targets were not met because the marketing manager promised… And the sales department said that… Because the logistics failed, etc.

 

At the end there is some time left to talk (perhaps) about next year’s destinations and everyone disperses for a nice lunch (or not).

 

How does the whole subject even relate to my field of practice? Why am I talking about this?

Because I’m often approached to give a workshop on preparing a presentation for an end-of-year meeting.

 

Usually, after my first conversation with the CEO, when I ask the following questions, I am recruited (thankfully, of course) to take part in organizing the meeting in general.

 

What are those questions?

 

Just like the questions I ask in every presentation, only with slight twists that fit the end-of-year-meeting presentation:

    1. What’s the point? What kind of missions do we want to go on at the end of the meeting? Updates about the past can be
      emailed, you can send a report. We should understand in advance that we want to gain insights, examine what worked well and what didn’t, and especially – what should be done towards next year?
    2. Who’s the audience?
      Who will participate in the meeting?
    3. What Should they know/do as soon as the meeting is over? This is where the changes we need to make come in. Every participant in the meeting should present clear insights: what worked and why. What needs to be changed? By whom?
    4. What information is required and how do we present it in a way that will be clear to everyone?
      The purpose of the meeting is to bring insights – not data. The insights lead to discussion or brainstorming to find ways to address gaps or problems that will be revealed.
      It is also advisable to prepare supporting material for

Now we are ready to go and prepare the presentation…
Here each department will prepare its part:

    • Reflecting any insight (you can limit the number of insights in advance).
    • Concentrating on next year’s targets.
    • Reflecting any gaps/problems to be raised for brainstorming.
    • Building the business report that will be the accompanying material.
    • Setting an appropriate schedule for each part of the meeting (as opposed to one arbitrarily set).

When planning the meeting in advance, the CEO sets the goals and objectives for the meeting far enough in advance, divides the topics that he would like to discuss between the various departments, and allows the department managers to hold intra-department meetings in order to build the insights and put some of them in the presentation.

When such a meeting is planned in advance, it becomes a brainstorming session, a joint effort to find solutions and to build both short-term and long-term goals.
At the end of a meeting like this, you come out with a smile and an appetite for the joint lunch…

 There are even dedicated programs for managing meetings. Here is an example of such software  – it  is not that I am personally familiar with this software, but rather it is possible to understand from the site the importance of both planning such meetings and tracking them afterwards.

How lucky we are, in Israel, to have a new year at the end of the third quarter. Happy New Year!