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You can't run good meetings without good data

We have a saying at RESULTS: "You should never have a meeting without data." Here's why.


At RESULTS.com we are in the the privileged position of being able to observe thousands of managers and teams working on their Goals, and by analyzing the patterns we quickly learn what works and what doesn’t in terms of achieving better business results.

In a previous article, “The 5 P’s of productive meetings”, we talked about the importance of “Preparation” as being a major driver of productive meetings.

To me, preparation means the following:

The meeting agenda is sent to attendees well in advance, describing specifically what topics will be discussed and in what order, so that participants come to the meeting knowing what to expect and how to prepare appropriately.

Your dashboards are updated prior to the meeting so that ALL data is current and accurate. For example:

  • KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) need to show the current score.
  • Projects and Tasks need to be updated to reflect the current reality.

This is an area where I see many companies struggle. They try to run meetings, yet much of their data is either out of date, missing, or inaccurate.

I strongly urge clients that your dashboard must always “tell the truth” about exactly where your company is at - especially as you go into your weekly team meeting.

Unfortunately, if you don’t have the latest KPI scores, or if your Projects and Tasks have not been updated to reflect the current reality, the manager:

  • can’t see which areas are performing well, and which areas require your attention
  • can’t see which people are performing well, and who needs your help and support
  • can’t have meaningful discussions about performance
  • can’t make well informed decisions 

Also, if your dashboard software is not kept up to date it greatly loses its power to motivate your people. Keeping the data current and making this performance visible is a proven factor for management success.

To ensure you are fully prepared to run a great meeting, I recommend you implement the following meeting “rules”.


Updating Tasks:

  • Everyone must update their own Tasks prior to the weekly meeting. They check off Tasks that have been completed, and add new Tasks to show their team leader that they are using their own good judgement to prioritize their work for the coming week.
  • Overdue Tasks need to be explained by the Task owner, with a revised due date and commitment.
  • Additional Tasks can be added as appropriate by the team leader during the meeting.
  • Everyone must have at least 1 Task entered each week to show the team what specific thing they will complete before the week is over - “The 1 Thing” they will get done that will have the biggest impact on their area of the business.

Updating Projects:

  • Project Goal owners must update the status of Projects they are accountable for every week prior to the meeting - and be prepared to debate the % complete and color status.
  • Don’t delude yourselves. If there is even the slightest chance that a Project is falling behind schedule and is unlikely to be 100% completed by the Project due date, make sure the Project owner changes the color status to “yellow” or “red” to let everyone in the team know that extra attention is required to get things back on track.
  • Every Project should have at least 1 Task listed underneath it to show the next step.

Updating KPIs (Key Performance Indicators):

I learned a big secret to successful business execution many years ago, namely that, “If everyone is accountable, then no one is”.

The secret to getting things done is what is we call “single point accountability”. One person needs to make sure the thing gets done, and if that thing is not done, we only need to speak to one person to find out what is happening, and for them to take accountability to sort it out.

In my experience, the best way to ensure KPI data is kept up to date on your dashboard is to have one person (a “Data Champion”) take accountability for ensuring all KPIs in the system are current and accurate.

Whether they personally update all the numbers themselves, or they ensure others to do it, or there are automatic data integrations in place, the Data Champion is accountable to make sure all the KPIs in your dashboard are current and accurate prior to the weekly team meeting. “No missing KPI data” becomes part of their weekly job description. You could even choose to create a KPI measure for this - to track how many (if any) Goals are not updated.

Agree a time, e.g. “10am on a Monday” by when the Data Champion must ensure that all the KPI scores in the dashboard are current and accurate from the week prior.

That way at 10.01am anyone can log in and see exactly how the team performed last week. Everyone can see which parts of the business are performing well, and which parts need attention. Everyone can see which individuals are performing well, and who needs help and support.

The manager must hold the Data Champion firmly accountable for making sure this is done every week, and the Data Champion must be given the authority to do whatever it takes to make sure the data is kept current.


Without current accurate data, you cannot run an effective meeting. You are wasting your time, as well as wasting the time of those attending.

Article written by:

Stephen_Lynch_RESULTS.com   Stephen Lynch
Head of Strategy and Consulting - RESULTS.com 


Stephen Lynch

Author of the award winning business book Business Execution for RESULTS & President of RESULTS.com, Lynch is an internationally known Strategy Consultant and a contributing writer for The Economist magazine.

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