Posted in High Performance Teams Bill Bean Tagged ,

Communications is an amorphous phenomenon I like to refer to as the biggest business “fluff-muffin”—everyone feels it could be better, but no one knows exactly how to do it. The following tool, the Two-Minute Drill (2MD), addresses poor communications head-on and fixes it! Dozens of companies are using it. Leadership teams at all levels have found it extremely effective. The following is how the Two-Minute Drill works:

About sixteen years ago I had an idea of a communications method utilized monthly during strategic implementation/tracking meetings. In roundtable fashion, I would have each member of the planning team give their monthly “Two-Minute Drill” (2MD), which was a brief, content-rich synopsis of key highs, lows, and other highlights of interest from the last month. The intent was to update their peers, and it has proven to be a very popular tool because it simply “netted out” each individual’s important updates via a few rapid-fire bullets. By the late 1990s I saw leadership teams’ “need for speed” required that the frequency and format of the 2MD be shifted from a monthly in-person team update to a weekly e-mail.

As simple as it is in concept and form, the 2MD has now proven to be the most efficient and effective regular communications instrument I have seen at work in companies. For those of you not familiar with the term “Two-Minute Drill”, it is a US football term that means the following: A team has, say, eighty yards and two minutes remaining on the clock before the conclusion of the first half of the game or the end of the game. During these last two minutes, the team on offence has to advance the ball forward in order to move down the field and into the end zone for a final score. Football teams rigorously practice 2MD’s to best utilize precious seconds moving the ball as rapidly as possible from one end of the field to the other while the final seconds tick away. The Two-Minute Drill is an e-mail each person sends to the other members of the team on a weekly basis. Here is how your 2MD is typed as an e-mail to your Distribution list of recipients, which is typically your department/team members, or the managers that all report to the same next-level manager:

To: Distribution List

From: (your name)

Subject: My Weekly Two-Minute Drill

1. Best of the Week (“+’s”):

 _____________________________.

 _____________________________.

 _____________________________.

2. Worst of the Week (“-’s”):

 _____________________________.

 _____________________________.

 _____________________________.

3. Other Highlights:

 _____________________________.

 _____________________________.

 _____________________________.

4. Key Upcoming Next Week:

 _____________________________.

 _____________________________.

 _____________________________.

Two-Minute Drill Procedure

1) The 2MD is to be sent no later than 2:00 PM Friday afternoon, so that people have time to read others’ 2MD’s before the upcoming week.

2) It consists of only four sections, with anywhere from one to three bullets in each section, which enables it to be written in a few minutes and read within two minutes.

3) It assumes that each participant has to have had something positive (+) or negative (-) happen over the past week to relate to his/her peers!

4) The section on “Other Highlights” is for items that are not positive or negative per se, but things to communicate that you believe would be helpful for people to know.

5) Lastly, there is a section for any “Key Things Upcoming Next Week,” like “Customer X is visiting the plant next Wednesday.” Experience has taught us that people really like having these “heads-up’s.”

6) If there are any items that are really hot/urgent/critical, you can highlight or bold those bullets for emphasis.

7) Many of my clients hold fifteen-minute Monday Morning Huddles just to focus on those “bolded/highlighted” items. There is no need to cover the other materials that have already been reported in the prior Friday’s 2MD!

8) Now, each person of the executive team, department, etc., has gathered forty to sixty key bullets from all other participants that can be read in less than two minutes each! This makes for very efficient and effective communications!

9) People absolutely would not have known many of those points from their colleagues that speedily and systematically otherwise.

10) Plus, these 2MD’s can be informally netted out with a few major highlights and used to communicate down and across an organization! Many managers like to take the highlights

from the 2MD’s they receive and communicate those important points down to the next level. Of course, not everything is appropriate for sharing to the next level, because they may be of a personnel or need-to-know nature.

I urge you to give 2-Minute Drills a try! Teams invariably report that their communication effectiveness has jumped to a higher level by so doing—more pertinent information, from the right folks, on a timely, consistent basis, that is easy to distribute to and digest from others!

About Bill Bean

Bill Bean is a leader in the arena of corporate performance optimization. He is also the author and co-author of several books on strategic planning and goal setting.

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