One Item on Every Successful Executive’s End-of-Year List

December 4, 2014

Why End-of-Quarter Reviews Are So Essential for Driving Intelligent Growth

By this point in the year, that annual goal planning meeting you attended back in January probably feels like a lifetime ago. Between now and then you and the rest of the management team likely got caught up in the day-to-day execution of the business — putting out fires, jumping on new opportunities, reacting to changes in the market, your customers, your competition, etc. If you didn’t take the time to periodically reconvene and review your goals at a high level then you may now find yourself in a completely different place from where you initially planned and hoped when you originally set your goals.
That’s why establishing a quarterly operating review process — sitting down every 90 days to discuss your goals, review your progress, reassess priorities, and adjust your plan for moving forward — is so critical.
Especially for startups and expansion-stage companies whose survival depends on being nimble, adaptive, and, most of all, incredibly focused.
Not only do regular quarterly reviews equip you with the strategic direction and focus you need to achieve the goals you set for your business, they also help you achieve them faster and more effectively by rigorously iterating and refocusing on them at regular intervals.
The Most Valuable Meeting You Can Run
My colleague George Roberts has even gone on record saying he believes quarterly operating reviews are more critical to growing companies than quarterly board meetings. In his opinion, no other meeting has a higher level of consistent impact on a company’s performance.

Suggested Meeting Structure Plus a Few Quick Rules

Operating review meetings must be designed to align with the company’s maturity in terms of size, management sophistication, and development. The trick is to achieve the optimal level of process and structure for your company’s current state and to then adjust it over time as the company matures.
That said, the basic structure of a quarterly operating review involves the head of a department presenting the following:

  • The current state of the unit/market/goals
  • Key successes from the previous quarter, as well as challenges, obstacles, and impediments
  • Suggestions for improvements and ways of removing impediments

At this point, the meeting should shift to an open discussion, resulting in:

  • A list of suggestions/advice from others
  • A list of possible goals for the upcoming quarter that is then prioritized

Here are the most important ground rules to keep in mind to conduct a truly productive quarterly operating review:

  • The goal is to uncover the best goals/initiatives for your department going forward.
  • To start off, everyone in the room needs to understand the current state of the unit.
  • The unit head should present a retrospective portion of the meeting.
  • There needs to be an open conversation regarding all of the most important possible goals for the unit for the next 90 days.
  • The operating unit head needs to be open to goals suggested by others.
  • Important issues need to be addressed openly and constructively.
  • The meeting needs to end with the optimal set of prioritized goals.


Now that you know the basic structure of successful quarterly operating reviews, it’s time to make sure you have the proper focus and resources to actually preform them. The checklists below will help you ensure that you have the resources necessary to fully commit to this review process.

Checklist for the CEO

Checklist for the CFO

Checklist for the Unit Head Leading the Operating Review

Free Guide to Getting Even More Out of Your Reviews

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Founder & Partner

As the founder of OpenView, Scott focuses on distinctive business models and products that uniquely address a meaningful market pain point. This includes a broad interest in application and infrastructure companies, and businesses that are addressing the next generation of technology, including SaaS, cloud computing, mobile platforms, storage, networking, IT tools, and development tools.