‘Our President Should Be Here Right Now’

A few weeks ago, during a brainstorming session with one of our clients, we were half-way through the meeting when all of the sudden the Vice President of Marketing and the senior level decision maker in the room blurts out “our President should be here right now for this.”

Those were telling words as I sat there taking notes from the discussion and watching the interaction of Rob, our Director of Strategy, as he managed our team of clients through an exercise on the whiteboard.

You see, five weeks earlier we’d been tapped to do a MarketPathTM strategic planning process. As part of the scope of that work, there were two main initiatives:

  1. Interview a number of stakeholders in the company, including the President, VP level management, members of the sales team and key customers and prospects.
  2. Conduct two to three internal brainstorming sessions with key members of the management team. It was during the second of these three meetings in which the VP of Marketing uttered those words.

The total time we spend in these meetings with the client ranges anywhere from 10 – 12 hours. We’ll typically hold one at Interrupt and potentially one or both of the other two within the client’s headquarters, or even offsite. While we had a great first session with the VP and his team, it really took him getting deeply involved and truly seeing the value of what we bring to the table during the second session to have his epiphany.

On a number of occasions, Bill Rossiter, our CEO has facilitated these types of activities with our clients and it never ceases to amaze him how often — and sometimes it’s even after the fact — the individuals we’re working with will come forward and admit what value there would have been in having their Chief Executive team involved throughout the process.

In many cases, we’ve been able to successfully have the core players in the room and undoubtedly they always comment both during and after how valuable it was to have everybody involved in the process. Fortunately for the client we worked with a few weeks ago, we have one more off-site session that is going to enable them to have that high-level participation.

More often than not, there are champions on any corporate team and the challenge is to ensure you’re inviting the right people — the ones who are going to bring the most value to the session. This isn’t limited only to members of the marketing team. Ideally, you’ll have the appropriate members of the C-suite, sometimes even including the CFO (because it’s important to get them to see the value in the money spent on sales and marketing).

In addition to the C-suite, who are the individuals on your sales team, logistics, distribution, marketing, etc. that you can invite to participate? It’s when you can have all those individuals in the room at the same time working toward a common goal that you often get the best results and ideas from your team.

The next time you’re approached by someone looking to engage and help you with your strategic planning process, think about who you should have involved during the course of that meeting — and extend them an invite to participate. I can assure you, you’ll be happy with the decision.

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