How QBAs Will Set the Pace in Our Category
Seujan Bertram |
 10/10/22 |
4 min read

How QBAs Will Set the Pace in Our Category

There’s a reason the windshield on a car is massive compared to the rearview––it’s more important to keep your eyes trained on what’s ahead of you; to anticipate moves made by other drivers, than it is to focus on what is behind.

What’s happening behind you deserves notice as well, but if one spends too much time looking back, a crash is inevitable.

This is the thinking behind QBAs––quarterly business alignment sessions, which are a definite departure from the typical QBRs––quarterly business reviews. And I’d like to share how they look, comparatively, and why I’m excited by the potential they offer.

Kicking Off Our QBAs

Shifting our viewpoint was intentional.  QBRs by virtue of their name tend to focus more on a review of the past quarter. It’s important work, but as any QBR participant at most companies can attest, the reviews are not often described as dynamic nor engaging. Rather, they can feel drawn-out and largely irrelevant to any team’s day-to-day, beyond the one presenting in the moment.

They’re designed as company-wide check-ins to create accountability, which is a good thing, but they miss out on so much.

Enter the QBA. The focus of QBAs is to align on the future. The meeting is designed to focus on what is ahead while being informed by what is behind. This distinction may feel fuzzy till we dig into it, as QBRs are tasked with setting future goals as well––and isn’t that focus really the same as what we’re doing during a QBA session? It’s really not, and I think that energy will come through as I speak to the process below.

We sought to rework this time spent together as a company and reimagine it to extract valuable, thought provoking and even inspiring processes and ideas.

After rolling out our first QBA meeting with the executive team, we expanded the effort to engage our broader leadership team. We did this for three reasons:

  • To facilitate understanding of business performance
  • Align on issues and strategies
  • And to celebrate success

Each captured a crucial element of what we intended to communicate company-wide––and what we strive for internally. Namely, we sought to ensure that everyone was clear on:

  • Where we sit competitively, where we are headed, and opportunities for continuous improvement, and growth
  • Our prioritized offerings, positioning, and challenges faced company-wide, as well as identifying synergies to smash silos
  • What is working and how can we do more of it moving forward

So, how did it go? The results were encouraging.

Collaboration is Possible––and Essentia

The meetings weren’t structured as a “feel good” event. Although team leaders shared accomplishments, we made it clear that it needed to be the smaller part of what they were talking about.

The thrust of the conversation needed to focus on goals and what they were committed to achieve during the quarter ahead. Most importantly, we wanted to hear how their plans aligned with specific criteria, including:

  • Advancing our company mission
  • Collaborating with other teams
  • And identifying emerging opportunities

Much like every other organization, silos are always lurking and require regular attention, so they aren’t given space to grow.

As teams were checking in, it was great to hear connections made in real-time. Surveying participants, we were pleased that others noticed the many people who usually keep quiet had chimed in, which meant it felt relevant, interesting, and inclusive for them.

We left the meaning with a sense of success, as were able to:

  • Acknowledge the positives and think about how to maintain the “wins.” Our “Keep Doing” session was extremely well received, and we’ll have other teams participating as we go.
  • Focus on this quarter’s priorities, with a structured to-the-point format, while still leaving space for discussion. This kept us on time and on track.
  • Win support for this quarter’s initiatives from the other teams, with overviews by the AMs and new business teams and corresponding Q&As that offered additional (and illuminating) context.
  • Offer transparent data and “real data” vs. trying to internally sell employees on the business and KPIs. This made everyone feel like they were on the same team, not an outsider being ‘sold’ to.

And we have some lessons learned as well – points that will inspire how we structure our next QBA!

Planning & Goal Setting for the Next QBA

We’re very meta about the process, with our own goals and alignments to recognize around the QBA process itself – things we should start doing, stop doing or do differently to improve for the next one!

  • Clearly defining accountability benchmarks and outlining next steps for each team––making it precise and focused, with clear project managers tasked with driving things forward.
  • Ensuring priorities were clear and there were sufficient resources and support staff dedicated to making these great ideas a reality.
  • Devote a bit more time to the past, present, and future to help tenured employees reflect; new people better understand the growth and journey bringing us to the present; and creating a framework in which to envision the future.
  • Create KPIs that are consistent and can apply to everyone, with a bit of context to flesh things out.
  • Adding polling questions and breakouts to enhance engagement.

And then schedule the next event much further in advance to give everyone a chance to block out the time. We were so excited about the process, we just added it in stride to our regularly scheduled quarterly meeting, with an update about the shift in focus going out the week before. We can be forgiven for that one though, I think––as it wasn’t new to many of us, just “new” for it to be formalized in this way.

Practicing What We Preach

We’re practicing what we preach and helping our own teams dismantle barriers and centralize our vast stores of intelligence company-wide with these QBAs. We’ve inspired previously quiet contributors to act and that will continue to be a focus, though not in a way that yanks employees out of their comfort zones either. We’re learning about our strengths as a company, as teams and as individuals––and we’re building a future framework that is solidly aligned all around.

It’s an exciting time to exist in this space, and we’re looking forward to taking it all in. We’ve always anticipated roadblocks and built workarounds well before we’d need to consider decreasing our speed, but challenges are coming at businesses ever faster these days. We have all engines aligned toward anticipating the future, as we continue to set the pace in our category.

Premier social media analytics platform

Expand your social platform with LexisNexis news media

Power of social analytics for your entire team

Media analytics and market intelligence platform

Enrich your media analytics with social data

Social media benchmarking
and competitive intelligence

Data streams & custom KPIs for advanced data science

AI, Image Analytics, Reporting Tools & more

Out-of-the-box integration with other data sources