Rhythm of Review was one of the most important management concepts I learned while at GE. Every manager (and most employees) knew the dates of the monthly financial closes as well as when the major strategy sessions with corporate were scheduled. These were big events where success or failure was objectively measured and the future of the company was energetically planned.
Regularly scheduled rigorous reviews of results against plan (finance, sales, project status, inventory, etc.) are critical to ensure companies stay focused on their most important metrics. In particular, your IT department needs this rhythm to align their efforts well with the business strategy and flow.
In my years as a consultant, I've been surprised to find that many companies of all sizes have no single calendar that shows when all their important management meetings are scheduled. And often these aren't planned at the macro level at all, so there is no communicated rhythm of review in place.
If you're doing everything ad hoc, then chances are you're missing some necessary disciplines around both strategic planning and tactical execution.
I've searched several times for a good calendar template and found none, so I created this Excel tool and have used it for several clients and my own consulting practice:
This example is populated with dummy data for demonstration purposes - feel free to customize to meet your needs. Read on for instructions:
Objectives of the tool:
Clearly see all fiscal and calendar dates at the quarter, month, and day level
Capture ALL important business events (yearly customer conferences, industry events, etc.)
Plan and show all core regularly scheduled business meetings
Show holidays and other business closing dates
See the whole year on 4 pages (one per quarter) so you can spread this out on your desk or a wall to get an easy bird's eye view of your year
Allow for as many or as few "areas" (shown as columns) as you need for your business
Doing this in Excel make the process very quick and you can get creative with font sizes, colors, shading and other formatting to make your calendar easy to read and work with.
Using the tool:
Your financial review and accounting process should drive the overall rhythm and other regular meetings should flow from there.
Depending on the size of your company you may have a column for each division and one for corporate, or you may chose a column for groups of key functions (Marketing & Sales; Finance & Legal; Engineering & Manufacturing; HR & IT).
I'd try to limit columns to 5 or 6 - by forcing the calendar to fit clearly on 4 pages you keep it manageable.
Use the second tab to give more details about your big meetings if necessary (owner, attendees, objectives / description, etc.). See also Meeting Agenda template.
Once you have some data in the calendar, physically print it out to look at your company's whole year.
Key questions to ask:
Do we have the right type and timing of key strategic and tactical check points?
Do we have too many big meetings? Too few?
Are the owners, objectives and agendas for all these meetings clear?
Have we put key strategic meetings (board meetings, 3-year planning sessions) in at the right times?
Are important operational meetings scheduled on a regular basis?