The Death of the Town Hall Meeting


Strategies not delivering results? Consider this.

Town hall meetings and road shows are a staple of corporate culture. But in today’s workplace, their relevance is quickly fading. Learning science tells us that the town hall format (usually a one-way conversation in front of PowerPoint slides) rarely produces an engaged, receptive audience. And tools like Skype and Webex only exacerbate the challenge. Because layering new technology on old paradigms rarely drives a step-change in performance.

Management gurus like to point out that the Apollo rockets were off track 97% of the time but always hit their targets. GPS technology enabled the rockets to make constant, minor course corrections. What if corporate strategy took the same approach? How can technology help executives to share plans and generate feedback from across the enterprise in real time? What if strategy development and implementation were one and the same?

Game Changers

As it turns out, the convergence of predictive analytics and mobile computing now enables companies like Wal-Mart, Staples, and MasterCard to share new ideas, crowdsource insights, and tap the collective genius of teams through an approach that may soon render the town hall meeting obsolete. We refer to this aspect of strategy activation as “strategy sprints”—and they’re paving the way for a fundamental shift in how we think about the strategy rollout across the enterprise. Here’s why:

  • Structured. A decade of collaboration tools like Jive, Slack, and Yammer haven’t brought us closer together or delivered efficiency gains because they’re noisy and loud. They rarely produce useful or predictive analytics. Sprints rely on structured dialogue to ensure that the appropriate amount of time is dedicated to each topic, that all participants understand the goal—and that conversations produce data that can guide strategy.
  • Fast and Scalable. Often no more than 30 minutes, sprints are designed to share information in bite-sized doses, and gather specific insight and feedback. You can easily reach your entire company across a week, or plan waves at different levels through purpose-built cohorts.
  • Quantifiable. Each sprint is designed to surface a set of insights via big data analytics to help leaders make more informed strategic decisions—and iterate on the message for even greater receptivity.

Strategy Sprints are, of course, about far more than just replacing town hall meetings and road shows. They’re about generating data to identify improvements, roadblocks, and sentiment to understand – quickly – whether your strategy is on track. They allow executives to iterate on the message, and make sure the receivers know they’ve been heard—and that management is responding. They’re about changing course quickly, and activating strategies that drive impact even faster—at the national and global scale of your business.