Every summer our company holds a mid-year review that is attended by our entire US office. We call it the Blue Meeting. It’s not Blue Ocean Strategy, although we’ve talked about that and implemented some of those ideas before. It’s not about feeling blue (thankfully). Rather, it’s a meeting about data…numbers…financials…the rationale for where we’re heading and what we’re doing to get there.
We call it the Blue Meeting because in Emergenetics terminology, Blue equates to Analytical Thinking. Every single person in our company has the capacity for Analytical Thinking and can be brilliant analysts- whether their role is in finance, operations, marketing, administration, or customer support. Not everyone has a preference to think Analytically, but we can all do it. And do it well.
So why even call it a Blue Meeting or hold a special offsite that takes our entire employee base in the US out of the office all day? Shouldn’t our finance team and our Senior Management leaders be on top of this all the time? Emergenetics International needs to print and distribute product to companies and individuals throughout North America every day (as do our offices in Asia and Europe respectively. We’re like a knowledge economy factory that is in constant motion. So to pull away from that for even a few hours is a big deal. Especially for people who you may not even think of as being linked closely to the financial side of the organization.
There’s two critical reasons why we hold a company wide Analytical mid-year review:
Openness: The more every employee in the company knows, the better they feel about their jobs- about their stake in the organization and about the direction we’re heading.
As you would expect at a mid-year review, our CFO and our President shared every element of our balance sheet— our revenue, expenses and our net profit. But in addition to that, every department is asked to share their objectives, what they have accomplished to date, and their key initiatives to close out the year.
Not only did employees both understand and appreciate this information, they asked questions that people hadn’t previously considered. It stimulated partnerships between employees who don’t typically work together. It also generated a spirit of inclusivity that is critical in any organization- small or large, start up or established.
Accountability: When everyone knows the logic, data and numbers behind decisions, we all become accountable. And every single employee can connect their work and objectives into bottom line results.
Our culture is built on an expectation of contribution and trust. The beauty of the Blue Meeting is that it isn’t just finance. Every single person is forced to take a hard look at their own objectives, both by department and individually. As a group we identified the ROI of our actions, and left with a better sense of how those actions- as individuals and as teams- impact the success of our company as a whole.
For example- how do our key client relationship managers, whose main objective is ensuring high quality delivery of training, tie into marketing? Well, by knowing what products bring in the most revenue, they can more easily consult with our current clients to strategically highlight these offerings.
Our company instantly becomes accountable across the board. And that brings new ways to work:
- We not only stay focused and on-track but it breaks down silos.
- Everyone is in the loop, which empowers ideas.
- Every employee understands the business case for decisions, which builds trust
It’s incredible to see an entire company (and our Europe and Asia teams do this as well) come together to get behind the idea of Blue. Analyzing our work so far during the year and strategizing, via this information, where we need to go.
It begins and ends with openness and accountability and any company can do it.