I am part of a team of two running e-commerce operations. We need to be careful with our resources. For my first few months, our agency took five minutes to report on which of our competitors were advertising on TV & radio, and what their commercials said. Five minutes isn’t a long time, but the reporting meetings always ended up lasting three hours or more.
We didn’t have any say in our TV & radio advertising. We didn’t even have a say in the messaging behind it. And yet, it was always in our performance reporting sessions. It was an easy five minutes to cut.
Take a moment and think about your situation? Do you feel like there’s a lot to do and not enough time to do it all? I’ve got great news for you: That’s the case everywhere. So why waste time on things we can’t do?
That’s where the lovely consultancy “control, influence & concern” model comes in. It helps you to decide what to talk about and what to skip. Let’s walk through each of the rings.
I love when our agencies bring me news about things we have under our control. We decide instantly and move quickly. A new Google Ads campaign? Sure thing! Do we want to experiment with Facebook visuals? Go right ahead. Focus on what your stakeholders have under control when you’re reporting results and suggesting change.
Whenever I’m in a reporting meeting, I expect to have these questions answered:
- What did we do that worked?
- What did we do that didn’t work?
- How do we know that’s the case?
- What are we going to do about it?
All of these questions or their answers have a direct impact on our performance. It doesn’t take much time to see the effect of our changes.
When you’re selling a commodity, your primary tool is pricing. But when you’re not responsible for pricing, it doesn’t help anyone to keep repeating that the price is too high. The best we can do is get a conversation going with our colleagues who handle that side of the business. Alternatively, we can work on things that go around that issue.
- What can we change to set-up an advantage?
- What can we change to remove a disadvantage?
Looking at these questions, it’s clear that we need to involve a few more people in these discussions. We don’t have direct control over the outcome, but we can try to influence the decisions. That’s why the changes take place in the medium term.
I recommend limiting the amount of information and advice you share on things your stakeholders have no control or influence over. They make good conversation, but you’re wasting time in a reporting meeting.
So how do you decide to report on information and changes we can’t do anything about? I think these questions help:
- Is this information going to change our decisions?
- Does this pose a threat to our business?
Let’s use the example I shared at the beginning. Knowing how much money our competitors were spending on TV wasn’t going to influence our decisions on digital campaigns. None of our competitors was doing anything groundbreaking that presented a threat to our business. None of the information led to a change in decisions.
You get a maximum of 100 attention minutes during a two-hour meeting. And that’s if you play all of your cards right. Don’t waste any of them on things you and your stakeholders can’t change.
Report and advise as much as you can on things they have control over. Talk for a few moments about things they can influence. Skip the things that only concern them. Unless they present a threat to the business or if knowing it changes the decision. You save time and will give a clearer story to follow.