Top management spends less than three hours a month discussing S. issues (and that includes mergers and acquisitions) or making strategic decisions. Michael C. Mankins, managing partner of Marakon Associates, in the September 2004 HBR issue, once more measured what everybody already knows: typical company’s senior executives spend less than three days each month working together as a team, and in that time they devote less than three hours to strategic issues. Moreover, these three hours are seldom well spent. S. discussions tend to be diffuse and unstructured, only rarely designed to reach good decisions quickly.
One global firm spent more time each year selecting the company’s holiday card than debating its vital Africa S.
However at a number of Marakon clients — ABN AMRO, Alcan, Barclays, Boeing, Cadbury Schweppes, Cardinal Health, Gillette, Lloyds TSB, and Roche — executives have found ways to improve teamwork at the top. Leaders spend their time together addressing the issues that have the greatest impact on the company’s long-term value creation.
Based on the experiences at these companies, Mankins provides 7 techniques for exploiting valuable time of executive boards:
- Deal with operations separately from S.
- Focus on decisions, not on discussions
- Measure the real value of every item on the agenda
- Get issues off the agenda as quickly as possible
- Put real choices on the table
- Adopt common decision-making processes and standards
- Make decisions stick
Mankins' article ("Stop Wasting Valuable Time") fits well in the Value Based Management tradition of Marakon Associates. My time reading this article was certainly not a waste of time and I recommend reading it to any topmanager and MBA student.