Monthly production meetings at Basnett Design-Build-Remodel had a tendency to wander and to produce too few action items. So Jim Basnett and his production team at the Littleton, Mass., company, set a day and time, and created an agenda and a required attendance list. By systematically marching through six agenda items, they stay on top of issues that are important but that can be difficult for small companies to track, such as tools that must be fixed or supplies and materials that need to be replenished. (See GoodForm, page 46, for the meeting agenda.)

There's little discussion of individual projects because “our system runs itself,” Basnett says. Nor does he micromanage. “I give my staff the ability and money to do their jobs, and I trust them,” he says. Basnett calls this “bottom-up management,” noting that it inspires good ideas and keeps his own plate clear.