New Research To Make Meetings More Productive

July 21, 2015

by Dan Richards

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All advisors want their meetings to be productive – resulting in deeper relationships and buy-in to your recommendations from clients, open conversations with prospects about their needs and honest discussions about how you can help. An email from an advisor last week pointed to research from commercial pilots and surgeons that can make your meetings a better use of your time.

The email came from an advisor named Phil, responding to last week’s article, Olympic Training Techniques that Win Clients, describing how an advisor applied mental training and visualization techniques that she’d learned as a college athlete. Among the evidence for the power of mental training is research on how medical students who visualize an operation beforehand have a higher success rate as a result.

Here’s an excerpt from Phil’s email:

I was struck by your reference to how surgeons get better outcomes if they go through the operation in their heads beforehand, one step at a time. My sister is a doctor, and five years ago she lent me a copy of a book by a doctor who teaches at the Harvard Medical School. The focus of the book was research showing that surgeons who use detailed checklists make dramatically fewer mistakes and have substantially better outcomes.

I shared the book with my assistant and associate. As a result we began putting together detailed checklists for how we interact with clients, whether face-to-face or on the phone. Since beginning to use checklists, we have found ourselves better prepared for meetings, with no last-minute scrambling because we’ve forgotten something. All the small details that might have gotten missed now happen, and they happen every time. As a result, meetings go more smoothly and we’re all much less stressed – and perhaps because of that we’ve seen a noticeable improvement in the outcomes from our meetings.

How checklists avoid mistakes

The book that changed how Phil runs his practices was The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by surgeon Atul Gawande. In this Interview with Newshour, Gawande described how his team came up with the idea of written checklists after being commissioned by the World Health Organization to reduce deaths from surgery. After written checklists were implemented in eight hospitals around the world, complications dropped by one third and every hospital saw fewer deaths.

An early proponent of checklists was a critical care surgeon at the world renowned Johns Hopkins medical center in Baltimore. In 2001, this surgeon established a simple five-step protocol to reduce the number of infections when intravenous lines were inserted to deliver fluids or medicine directly into patients’ veins. With support from the administration, nurses began checking off each of the five items as surgeons inserted intravenous lines. Within a year, central line infection rates dropped from 11% to zero. As a result, written checklists were implemented for a variety of other procedures and Johns Hopkins saw deaths in the intensive care unit go down, and the average stay drop by half.

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New Research To Make Advisors Meetings More Productive