Four Secrets to Success

by Arnie Malham | February 14, 2008

Here and now again, I have overheard a client or three comment about a few of the operational things we do here at the agency. I have taken time to write and talk about the many elements of our One-Page Strategic Plan, including our BHAG, Brand Promises, and Core Values. But as Carter would say, “Give me an immediately executable idea that has helped your bottom line, productivity, and moral.” So, here are four tested, proven, and executable ideas that might just work for you.

Quiet Time

One hour designated in the agency during which there are no phone calls, no meetings, no conversations, no e-mails, and no instant messages allowed. One hour where the only thing you are allowed to do is WORK. Ideally on something that needs your undivided attention, but the only rules are that you cannot disturb anyone else. During this time (Tuesdays from 1 to 2 p.m.), our phones are on “Do Not Disturb” and visitors are sent away. The staff thought it was weird at first, but now they LOVE it and I am betting yours will too.

Book Club

I have found that reading sets my mind in motion. To encourage the same for the staff, we have set up a program that essentially pays our people to read. We have a growing library of books covering the topics of marketing, management, leadership, and legal politics. Each book is assigned a point value ranging from 25 to 100, depending on complexity. Employees can receive up to $100 per quarter by reading these books. Each point equals $1. To collect the cash, employees must complete book reviews and present their discoveries in a roundtable “book club” meeting. I maintain that it is the least expensive, most effective training we do at the agency.

Daily Huddles

Every day, our agency goes through a ritual of “huddles” intended to stimulate communication, productivity, and accountability. There are three huddles each morning, each taking no more than the maximum allotted 15 minutes per huddle. The action starts at 9:15 a.m. when each department head huddles with their teams to confirm the daily priorities and course of each employee in their departments. At 9:30 a.m., the department heads, executive team, and brand managers gather for a lightning round of priorities, roadblocks, and special requests for the day. At 9:45 a.m., the executive team takes the final huddle to cover any pressing topics remaining. Our huddles never run over the allotted times, and we feel much more aligned and informed as an agency.

The 10 a.m. Meeting

Every day at cj, 10 to 11a.m. is reserved for the meeting topic of the highest current priority. Everyone in the agency is required to have this slot available on their calendars. The rules are simple…no meeting involving individuals from multiple departments can be scheduled for any other time of the day. The 10 a.m. meetings must have a singular focus and purpose. This strategy relieves the staff of the burden of too many meetings in a day and has proved overwhelmingly successful.

So that’s it. Four ideas that work for us. It is my hope that in some way, all of them or at least one might work for you. I am always happy to discuss or tell you more if you have an interest in same.