by Dana Freker Doody, VP Corporate Communications
Is it still January? No? Well strategic thinking can be happening any time, even all the time. And strategic meetings are not just for the beginning of the year anymore.
Indeed, continual discussions about your organization’s strategy was encouraged by speaker Jeff Hurt at the recent PCMA Gulf States Chapter Leadership Day. Jeff, Executive Vice President at Velvet Chainsaw, said he and his colleagues talk strategy on a weekly basis, asking themselves questions like “Will this proposal get us closer to our strategic goals, or will it derail us?”
On Leadership Day, Jeff reminded us leadership is not about just taking orders. Leadership within an organization is about aligning your strategic visions with the clients’ strategic visions. It’s about knowing what the strategy is and executing on it.
During his presentation, we took a step back and dug into what strategy actually means. Sometimes the view gets cloudy, especially as planners spin through meeting after event activation after meeting.
Strategy is the creation of a unique and valuable position involving a different set of activities than your competitors. Discussion issued forth on better versus different but the consensus was that a profitable and productive strategy must be truly different. Don’t take the easy road and claim to be better. Show proof of how you are different.
The Strategy is the Why you do something, and operational effectiveness is the How. That means tasks and objectives must track back to the Why. Explaining Why we are doing something always is helpful in a large group, especially, we have found internally, among younger team members.
Considering strategy for conferences and exhibitions encourages us to think about some big picture questions.
• What kind of experience are you trying to create?
• What do you want people to feel during the three hours or three days they are together?
• How will you define success?
• How does this event support the organization’s overall strategic vision?
If these questions sound a bit stressful to be considering, you may be bogged down in too many distractions! Jeff dug in to help our Chapter understand our own brains, and how focusing on the minutiae was actually killing our memory and our ability to be strategic thinkers.
So start with these three steps to be a better strategic thinker:
Step 1: Take a break. The brain solves problems best while at rest. Connections are built when the brain slows down.
Step 2: Focus on one task at a time. Performing tasks and thinking through things sequentially prevents us from falling into the multitasking trap.
Step 3: Plan to perform only two “elephant tasks” per day. Don’t load up your to-do list with a bunch of large tasks. Trim it and work on two high priority items that will have the most impact.
We also discussed something I will call Step 0: Stay positive. Perspective is the gatekeeper of the brain, and so optimism makes all the other steps flow more easily.
On a positive note, you are not alone in developing strategic effectiveness for your event or organization when our team is around. Our agility, our ability to respond to your needs and suggest alternative methods for optimizing your investment, is one of our differentiators. Call on us.