There's a thin line between an effective meeting and an ineffective meeting. While some meetings are important and impactful, others can meander into time-wasters and focus-zappers.
Time is everyone's most vital resource. And from an organizational standpoint, leaders teams often have little time. So when there are executive-level meetings (squeezed in their tight schedules), it's important to make them as effective as possible. Will this meeting cover enough ground? Will it provide accurate context? Are we solving the company's most-pressing problems here?
That’s where the Level 10 meeting comes in.
What is a Level 10 meeting?
A Level 10 meeting is a weekly 90-minute, collaborative executive meeting with the same agenda every week. At the end of each meeting, the participants quickly rate the meeting on a scale of 1 to 10 based on how well they followed the meeting format and how productive the meeting was.
Level 10 meetings follow a specific set of principles:
Same day, same time: These meetings take place weekly on the same day and time each week.
Ninety-minutes long: Each meeting is exactly 90-minutes long and follows a strict agenda (we’ll go over what the agenda should look like below).
On schedule: They should always start and end on time. That means having everyone in the room five minutes early, so you can begin right on the dot and start wrapping up at the 85-minute mark.
For Level 10s to go well (and be graded 10/10 by participants), everyone involved should spend a few minutes preparing for the meeting in advance and reviewing the previous week’s meeting notes. The idea is to progressively course-correct toward a 10/10 meeting.
Level 10 meetings were created by the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), an organization made up of successful entrepreneurs who put together a complete toolkit to help companies grow. Over 100,000 companies are currently using their methods.
When the EOS business consultants asked their executive-level clients to rate their meetings, the average grade was very low — around 4/10. To promote better executive-level meetings, EOS created the Level 10 Meeting, a tight framework to build these kinds of valuable leadership meetings. The aim was to build the kinds of meetings that solve issues, move agendas forward, and help companies grow.
Why should your startup use Level 10 meetings?
Using a Level 10 meeting can make it easy for your leadership team to stay on schedule and respect everyone’s many other priorities. If this meeting is running over, you’re doing it wrong. The schedule also pushes everyone to be more succinct and make their points quickly, so you save even more time.
Level 10 meetings also help you keep track of your company’s goals and make sure everyone on your leadership team is on the same page. The first part of the meeting is dedicated to reviewing key data and surfacing any issues.
These meetings are also great for problem-solving — you spend the bulk of the meeting working on issues, discussing options, and finding solutions. Because you always work on the most important issues first, the highest priority problems your startup faces get solved during Level 10s.
Level 10 meetings are all about moving fast and collaborating effectively, so sticking to the agenda is very important. The meetings follow the same agenda every week.
A Level 10 meeting agenda to streamline your meetings
Besides grading meetings 1 to 10, the thing that really sets Level 10 meetings apart is their strict agenda. The structure should be the same every time. The goal is to review ongoing or past issues quickly and spend the bulk of the meeting identifying and solving current issues.
Level 10 meetings are collaborative, and everyone should share their updates for each section of the agenda. It’s a good idea to cap the number of participants at five to eight max, so you can stay on track.
The first five sections are for reviewing and flagging issues, not problem-solving. Anything that gets flagged should be moved down the agenda to the Issues section. When you get to that part of the meeting, you have a full hour to work on solutions.
Good news (5 minutes)
This is the meeting’s kick-off. Each person can share one piece of personal or business-related good news, which can be anything from a successful campaign to adopting a new pet. It adds a human element, gets the conversation flowing, and starts the meeting off on a positive note.
KPIs (5 minutes)
The next item on the agenda is reviewing your company’s key metrics: EOS calls this the Scorecard. These metrics can be anything involving revenue, churn, or growth — whatever you’ve identified as the most important 10 to 15 metrics for your company as a whole.
Each participant can present the metrics that fall under their purview, but if you want to save time, you can also have the meeting facilitator send a reminder to your team to plug in the numbers in advance.
Quarterly goals (5 minutes)
Review your company’s three to seven most important quarterly goals: EOS calls these Rocks. Rocks are important priorities that take longer than seven days to complete (whereas, anything that takes less than seven days goes on a to-do list). For example, a Rock could be increasing revenue by X% in the next 90 days or securing Y in investor funding. Everyone in the meeting will quickly update the status of any Rocks that they’re overseeing.
Customer or employee headlines (5 minutes)
Here, each participant will share a brief update about either a customer or an employee. It can be good or bad news, but it should focus on highlights without getting into the weeds: closing or losing deals, promotions, big projects.
Review last week’s to-do list (5 minutes)
Your to-do list should be dynamic, and it will change every week. To-do's are smaller than Rocks. Think: setting up an important call with an investor or greenlighting a new project. You should be able to get them done in the next seven days.
Review last week’s to-do list and cross off all of the items that are done. According to EOS, you should aim to do at least 90% of your list each week.
IDS issues: Identify, Discuss, Solve (60 minutes)
This is the meatiest section of the meeting and should take a full hour. Here, you’ll tackle the issues you identified in the previous sections. Rank your issues in order of priority, and then tackle them in order.
EOS recommends using three steps for tackling issues as a team: IDS, or Identify, Discuss, and Solve.
Identify: Identify the real issue as a team. Sometimes the issue is obvious, but other times you might have to dig deep until you identify the real issue and are all on the same page.
Discuss: Discuss the issue from all angles. This should be an open brainstorming conversation to bring up every option, solution, or idea that comes up.
Solve: Once you’ve discussed options, settle on a solution to solve the issue and on one or two action points to implement your solution. Put your action points up on your to-do list for the next week.
For example, let’s say one of your top customers is unhappy and talking about not renewing their contract:
Identify the issue: Let’s say the customer is unhappy because they feel like they’re not getting enough personalized attention despite being one of your biggest contracts.
Discuss: How can we make this customer feel valued? Do we need to add more people to their account? Allocate more hours to their contract? Or is the customer being unreasonable?
Solve: You decide to change the customer’s customer success manager and add two more people to their account. Your CEO will call them to let them know and check in on what else they might need.
In 60 minutes, you’ll go through as many issues as you have time to solve in order of priority. This way, the most important stuff always gets taken care of.
Once you hit the 60-minute mark, end this section, even if you still have issues on your list. You can save those for next week.
Conclusion (5 minutes)
Five minutes before the end of the meeting, stop IDS-ing and start wrapping up. In this section, you’ll want to quickly do three things:
Recap the to-do list: Make sure everyone is clear on what needs to be done and who needs to do it.
Spread information: Discuss if there’s any information from the meeting that needs to be shared with the rest of the organization.
Rate your meeting: Give your meeting a grade on a scale of 1 to 10. For EOS, the most important criterion when grading is how well you followed the agenda: Did you start and end on time? Did you make it through each point productively? Eight is the minimum grade you should aim for. If you’re under eight, discuss why and plan to aim for a higher grade next week.
Remember, the Level 10 structure is fixed but the agenda is dynamic: each week, new items get added to the issues list, and once those are discussed, they get moved up to the to-do list for next week. The agenda also doubles as meeting notes that your team can refer back to between meetings.
Use Notion to create a Level 10 meeting template (or any other kind of meeting template)
Now that you’ve got the basics of the Level 10 meeting down, use Notion to create a dynamic Level 10 meeting template, or check out our template gallery. You can use Notion to tag your leadership team as participants, share prep materials, update action points, and track changes as you go.