“I must go; we have our WIP (Work in Progress meeting) in 5 minutes. They are such a waste of time.”
These were the words that ended a client call. The person anticipated their WIP with as much enthusiasm as a visit to the dentist.
If your WIPs are not working for you, don’t suffer any further, change them!
Move from Work in Progress to Learning in Progress
Imagine that instead of asking:
“What are you working on at the moment?”
“What is one thing that you have learnt this week that is relevant to the rest of the team in helping them achieve their goals?” and
“What is the one thing that didn’t go so well that you would welcome a suggestion from your team as to how you might have played the situation differently?”
The first question might produce answers such as:
“The meeting with company x reminded me of the importance of undertaking research on a company before the meeting. It allowed me to ask questions directly related to their business which seemed to provide them with the confidence to open up and talk about the deeper challenges they face ” or “I approached company y and discovered what is really important to people in their industry right now are issues A, B and C.”
The second question might produce an answer such as:
“I felt I was just talking in the meeting about what we do and not relating it to their business.”
The group can then suggest alternative approaches such as:
“What works for me in meetings is taking each of their needs in turn and then relating our features specifically to each of their objectives.”
The richer the observations about the specific example, the greater the learning for all involved.
If it works don’t fix it
By all means go around the table and update your colleagues on what you are up to, if you feel that is useful, however consider asking these learning questions as well.
Identifying activity levels
The benefit of this approach is that it helps you to check in on your activity levels.
No learning, suggests that either you didn’t have enough experiences i.e. approaches, meetings and pitches or you are not fully present and observing what is going on in those experiences.
Anyone in a business development role, who is active, should have a wealth of learning from just one week of interaction with prospects and clients.
The bigger the team, the greater the opportunity for learning
The sum of the collective experiences of all the individuals in a team who are active business developers should produce a significant amount of key learning which, if applied by the rest of the team, will drive their performance and the organisation forward.
This approach is a mini version of the team planning sessions that I run with clients. Even though WIPs are a much shorter time frame, the principle is the same in that you can debrief any experience to generate learning to drive a business forward if you take the time to stop and ask yourself: What happened? What conclusions can I draw? What should I do differently?
Give it a go!
If you found this article of interest, you may find my book Business Development That Works of interest