It’s always bothered me that many people seem to think the only purpose of an operations meeting is to talk about the sales forecast (and I’ve spent a lot of time in them for various companies). As a CEO, I think it is critically important that all areas of the business be in balance and receive an appropriate amount of attention. While the sales function is clearly important, it should not receive 90% of the attention as it often does.
Why do most companies spend so much time talking about the sales forecast? I realized that it is often the only future-oriented data that is collected. Every other department wants to talk mostly about what they have done, not what they are going to do. If future plans are discussed, they are typically tactical in nature and don’t relate to how they will impact the business. This focus on the past and tactics provides little value to a CEO.
One of the key roles of the CEO is to look as far into the future as possible to steer around any potential icebergs. That can happen only if he or she is receiving predictive data. It is crucial that every department help the CEO by looking at their activities from a forward-looking perspective, just like a sales forecast, and constantly be comparing actual performance to forecast performance. This way they drive continuous improvement in their ability to predict the future and help the CEO steer successfully towards their destination. The CEO bears some responsibility for this as well and should clearly communicate what kind of information he expects to receive, ideally tied to how departments are achieving the corporate goals.