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tampaHow long does it take to agree on a mission statement that works?  In today’s strategy meeting in Tampa, FL, I worked with a technology reseller on their Managed Services offering.  The first step was to establish a mission and vision statement for this new practice area – the mission should really be an extension of the current company-wide mission…if you have one.  In our case we had to start from scratch…here’s what we did.

I asked the group to take a moment and write down 5 deals they’ve done this year as a company, that exemplify the passion of the company.  I was looking for projects that were sold and delivered to the kinds of companies they like working with – deploying the kinds of solutions they are passionate about…after about five minutes, each person was ready to share theirs.

Going around the room, I was not surprised that many had the same deals listed.  After going around, I had four deals on the board that everyone agreed on…from there I asked the group to start telling me about the deals.  We looked at how the project was sold, who the consultants interfaced with, how it benefited the clients listed, etc.  In about five minutes we had 7 or 8 sentences written down…words like “Innovation”, “Transformation”, and “Advise” stood out.  This company was passionate about one of the four things buyers buy (something I often write about) – in this case, Operational Efficiency.  They had a passion for advising business leaders involved in transformational projects.  They believe they can help business leaders approach their business in a new and unique way, helping them think outside the box, transforming their businesses with technology.  They are inspiring business leaders toward – “Innovation”.  With that said, we drilled down into a few areas to fill out our mission – and in just a few minutes we had one all seven participants agreed on.

Do this – look over the past year, select the projects your company has sold and performed, and see if you can identify the common elements that make these deals your passion.  This is the WHY Simon Sinek is always talking about.  Once we had our mission, it was much easier to talk about the target clients, the solution set needed in their managed services offering, and the right marketing strategy.  It all builds on the WHY.  As Sinek points out, the HOW and the WHAT must align with the WHY.  Tomorrow we’ll wrap up, organizing our thoughts and constructing a road map to take them where they need to go.

© 2013, David Stelzl

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It’s not often that I get to Chicago and the weather is just right – low 70’s, low humidity, clear skys, and best of all, no traffic to or from the airport!  It’s been a productive week.  Some lessons from this week’s strategy meeting are in order…

1. It’s never about the product.  We spent two full days on strategy, only naming product in passing, or by accident.  Marketing strategy that builds on features and functions is destined to fail.

2. Synergy among the leadership is so important.  We had this, and it showed…Jim Collins is right (of course), when he says, “Get the right people on the bus, others off, and make sure everyone is in the right seat before getting started with strategy.

3. Most of the resellers are competing on the same items – this makes everyone look the same, reduces margin across the business, and pushes up the cost of doing business.  There is a better way – in fact we discovered several.

4. Many of the things vendors are pushing VARs to do with MDF are useless…again, there are better ways to spend marketing dollars, and I believe we found some that will change the course of business over the coming months.

5. A clear vision of where the company needs to go is essential – it is the filter that everything else gets measured by.  We started here, taking the time to come up with a clear, concrete, unified vision, and it paid off through the two days.

PS. Note the photo taken from my window seat…down town Chicago.

 

© 2012, David Stelzl

It’s my last day in Chicago, at least for this week (I’ll be back next week).  Last night when I returned to my room I looked at the front page of the Wall Street Journal – Headline, Meet the Meeting  Killers.  Keep in mind, I’ve just spent 8 hours meeting with a group of business leaders, discussing business and marketing strategy; everything from “who we are” to “what we need to become” as the tech market continues to evolve.  Unlike this article, which is the norm, our meeting was highly productive.  In fact, we didn’t have any of the problems highlighted in the picture to the left…why?  Here are some things we did to avoid problems:

  • The premeeting, meeting; First, I did take the time to talk with all of the participants before coming up here. I wanted to understand each person’s needs and goals for this meeting before having the meeting – this makes for an effective, highly focused meeting.
  • Our agenda is highly structured.  Not that we don’t have brainstorming and flexibility in our meeting – just the opposite.  But we have planned times to create and think outside the box in an organized way; we have a way to organize and consider ideas – and ways to stretch the imagination of each participant.
  • We have a facilitation process that works.  Rather than just talking, I use a process called The 6 Thinking Hats, developed by Dr. Debono.  Of all of the facilitation programs I have seen, this one really works.  I learned this method from a certified 6 Hats Trainer; I’ve also studied more than one book on the subject. If you want to run effective meetings, you need something to move people from spectator to involvement, but with order.  But you also need a way to draw out ideas from those who might not see themselves as creative.  You need positive perspective from the naysayer, and you need the optimist to consider the cautions.  You need a way of getting everyone in the group to consider things from many angles.  Debono refers to this as, “Lateral Thinking”.

By planning, structuring, and using a great facilitation tool, I believe the group would agree, we’ve accomplished in one day, what many groups take weeks to sort through.  And by the end of today, we’ll have a plan to execute on.

© 2012, David Stelzl