Quarterly Business Review: How Effective CEOs Do it Right


In a Quarterly Business Review, a company uses its past to guide future planning. The process is simple and powerful. But the key is that the CEO must conduct it well. That’s what we’ll talk about here.


A well-executed QBR is a potent tool for sustained success. Look Back to Look Ahead.

Here’s how the QBR works. There is an evaluation of each department’s metrics for the prior quarter. This is tied to overall corporate strategy and the contributions of each functional area.


This analysis brings the team to the present moment. This is a culmination of everyone’s activities, interactions and contributions throughout the quarter.


For example, we have an hour-long call with each functional leader every week. We cover what our deliverables are and how we work together properly.


Interactions Throughout the Quarter

There’s also a monthly stoplight assessment of metrics across the firm. We arrive at the QBR prepared, with updated strategies.


Weekly, monthly, quarterly – the reviews have a communications cadence. These interactions are basic and they’ll be measures of successful choices moving forward.


But looking at the past and recapping the news isn’t the point. The course ahead is. This is about making major decisions to move the company into the next quarter.


QBR Is a Gathering of Leaders.

The QBR is the CEO’s quarterly opportunity to get the functional leaders together. There is a give-and-take.


The department heads provide information. The CEO guides the group to an alignment in thinking and direction. From that comes a clear plan of execution for the next quarter.


But there’s more to it than that. This is a problem-solver for the CEO. The QBR can prevent problems – office politics, one-off discussions, and silo-constrained thinking. If these are an issue, the Quarterly Business Review disrupts them.


The functional leaders, aligned in their thinking, emerge with a well-defined plan.


Learn more about corporate and sales strategic alignment. Click this link.


Creating a Great QBR

The CEO should keep a few things in mind for an excellent QBR. First, the session should be uninterrupted. This is the time for focus, not distraction. Second, where tasks in the meeting are assigned, responsibilities must be plain.


Planning and preparation are key to success, and these precede the meeting. They don’t happen at the meeting. Participants should already have reviewed their documents.


Don’t rehash the past; what it means and where it leads are the emphases. Support is in the form of data-driven metrics.


A Quarterly Business Review is not to be hurried. Planning includes ample time for in-depth discussion and exchange of thoughts. There should also be some social time. Good work can emerge from sidebar conversations during breaks.



CEO Keeps the Meeting Moving.

Others may have leading roles at the QBR meeting. But the CEO usually has the authority and serves as facilitator.


That role includes being a provoker, a devil’s advocate, questioning data and prompting debate. Ideas need to be tested. The QBR is to develop the best possible action plan. It has to be able to stand up to challenge. 


The CEO needs to bring everyone into the conversation. Action is the imperative: development of a plan for the next three months.


Finally, the CEO must get buy-in from the group. That’s not the same as consensus. It’s important that all opinions be considered before a final decision is reached. 


Everyone might not agree on everything. Yet they buy in so the plan will succeed.


Building on Success

Under the CEO’s guidance, the Quarterly Business Review should prove its worth every quarter. The next review will then be a success story. And it will generate excitement in planning for the quarter to follow.


Scott Gruher

Orchestrates and designs the perfect project strategy, one engagement at a time, to ensure that every SBI client makes their number.
Learn more about Scott Gruher >

Scott joined SBI in 2010 with years of hands-on experience in sales leadership and enterprise selling. Since his arrival, he has helped dozens of organizations dramatically accelerate growth, from Fortune 10 organizations like Phillips 66 to fast-growing cloud service organizations like InfusionSoft. Scott specializes in cross-functional alignment. He helps leaders align around the growth goal and design the right processes to bring the strategy to life. His unique combination of real world experience and a pragmatic approach to problem solving have made him one of SBI’s most demanded resources.

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