June 2016

Meetings Don’t Bore People…

By | 2016-06-10T11:42:12+00:00 10 June 2016|Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , |

Meetings don't bore people. People do.

We blame our meetings for lack of innovation and progress in our companies.

It has been declared “brainstorming doesn’t work!”

We spend our days sitting, wasting time, energy, and money in boring… tan… artifically-lit conference rooms. Accomplishing? Nothing.

But, here’s the thing… Meetings don’t bore people. People do!

That meeting wasn’t bad. Frank didn’t plan.

Brainstorming isn’t dead. Francesco made no effort to craft a structured session to get to the core of the problem so the team could drum-up innovative solutions!

If we want to be innovative and grow our brands – we have to stop blaming the meeting and take responsibility as meeting planners and meeting participants.

August 2012

Want Better Meetings? Try Taking Them OFFSITE

By | 2012-08-22T17:38:48+00:00 22 August 2012|Categories: create, grow, SandBlog, solve, think|Tags: , , , , , |

The three secrets to being more innovative and hosting better meetings are to…

  • involve the right PEOPLE,
  • choose and use the right PROCESS, and
  • hold your meeting in the right PLACE.

99% of the time, hosting your meeting at your offices is not the right place. You need to host it offsite.

Let me introduce you to… OFFSITE

OFFSITE Main Floor

OFFSITE is midtown Manhattan’s newest and most evocative venue for corporate meetings and private events. Designed and wired to inspire creativity and optimize productivity, OFFSITE was literally built from the ground up with the perfect gathering in mind.

From the state-of-the-art A/V system to the comfortable yet versatile decor, this sprawling, 3-story enclave offers the ideal backdrop for your next board meeting, brainstorming session, focus group, product launch or social event.

The Main Floor

Step off the streets of New York City onto OFFSITE’s Main Floor, which boasts a professionally designed living room space with comfortable seating for up to 60 guests.

OFFSITE Main Floor

Stylish furniture easily lends itself to custom configuration to ensure your meeting or event is arranged exactly how you envision it. Curtained room dividers allow for impromptu brainstorming and break-out sessions. With three huge LED TVs that can be seamlessly integrated, The Main Floor is as conducive to open conversation as it is for a celebration.

The Mezzanine

OFFSITE Mezzanine

Overlooking The Main Floor, OFFSITE’s Mezzanine features the conference room – reimagined. Designed to generate thought and discussion, white board walls engulf you on all sides to keep track of your team’s free-flowing ideas.
An ultra modern, ultra high-tech 30-person conference table lets you seamlessly connect your personal computer to big screen monitor and digital smart board – or any other TV throughout the space – to add visual panache to any presentation.

The Underground

OFFSITE Mezzanine

OFFSITE’s inspirational lower level, set along an urban Rio de Janeiro backdrop, offers adaptable classroom-style seating for 25 people and an 80” LED TV. This sophisticated think tank is a cooler, more casual place to hash out important ideas, hold a training session, participate in team building exercises, or simply celebrate.

Centrally located in the heart of midtown Manhattan at 52 West 39th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenue), OFFSITE is right around the corner – or just a few subway stops away from anywhere in the city. OFFSITE is primed to host your next corporate meeting or private event.

Inspire. Brainstorm. Innovate. Celebrate. Go OFFSITE.

You may check out their website OFFSITEnyc.com visit their Facebook page, and follow them on Twitter @goOFFSITE

Looking for a better meeting space, but not in NYC. Check out the Idea Sandbox list of meeting destinations from around the world!

March 2011

Innovation: The Seven People Who Need To Be Involved In Your Meetings

By | 2011-03-31T10:42:14+00:00 23 March 2011|Categories: create, grow, SandBlog, solve, think|Tags: , , , |

Meetings. We have too many of them. Many Most aren’t productive. They are a necessary evil. But they don’t necessarily have to be evil…

There are all sorts of strategies when hosting meetings. If you keep them small, you’ll encounter less resistance and get ideas passed quicker. If you keep them big, you’ll get everybody’s buy-in at the start – no one can say they weren’t part of it.

The Idea Sandbox approach… include who you need to include. It is less about the number of participants, all about ‘why’ they are there.

Have you ever heard of the acronym R.A.S.C.I. as it relates to project management? The letters represent…
R for Responsible
A for Accountable
S for Supportive
C for Consulted, and
I for Informed.

RASCI.

While good for a project, and a good start for running a meeting… There are a couple of roles missing… So, I’ve created C.A.T.B.R.I.O. It includes the five RASCI roles, but adds two more… The seven people who need to be involved with your meetings.

When you’re planning your next strategy or brainstorming meeting, use CATBRIO as guide to build your participant list.

C = Champions

These people will create excitement for this project. They will serve as ambassadors and spread the word for you. You don’t have to invite them… but be sure to keep them in the loop.

A = Audience Affected

Who will be affected when the ideas thought up in this meeting are implemented? These could be external such as: customers, vendors, suppliers, etc. Or, they may be internal such as: operations team, front-line employees, leadership, etc. If possible, try to include someone – or a few – from this group. Why make assumptions on behalf of this group when they can be represented.

T = Tasked

Who will have activities or tasks to make this idea a reality (the builders)? Who will have tasks because of this project (the implementers)? Whose roll will be affected?

B = Buy-In

Who will be consulted? What specialists should you include who have input and value? Whose buy-in essential?

R = Responsible

Who is ultimately responsible for delivering this project? Only one name should be in this spot.

I = Informed

Which people need to know about your ideas and decisions? They don’t need to be involved in the process, but want to know the outcomes.

O = Okay

Who needs to provide approval? The decision makers.

With both the Informed and those who provide the Okay – keep them in the loop. Give them relevant updates that allow them to be ambassadors of your project.

Give it a try… and please let me know your feedback.

November 2010

The Way We Book Meetings Is Broken

By | 2010-11-10T19:20:05+00:00 10 November 2010|Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , |

There is something seriously wrong with the way we rent meeting space.

Does anyone else notice it?

Problem No. 1

We don’t care where we meet.
Standard practice for an off-site meeting is to pick a city then ask the admin or specialist to ring up a few hotels to book rooms for the team and then book a meeting space. This is conveniently handled in one call, as most hotels have a conference rooms.

However, these spaces – some large with ballrooms, others smaller with themed names – all have something in common.

That they are common.

There’s nothing special about them. They’re designed to be generic, and tan, and multipurpose. A tan shell. To be filled this weekend with a wedding reception, tomorrow your meeting, and next week a Bat Mitzvah.

Why aren’t we asking the admin or specialist to first find the best place in the city / region / country for a meeting? Then find a hotel nearby where we can sleep?

Problem No. 2

Book A Bed, or Buy Food – Get Meeting Space Free
This problem reinforced for me last week, while shopping for meeting space for an upcoming conference. As we toured different meeting venues – over and over – the same situation took place… Hotels had no interest in taking our money to book a meeting room. They were giving us the rooms if we

  1. booked enough hotel guest rooms or
  2. bought food.

I know – duh! – hotels first sell beds, then they sell meals… the meeting space is nearly afterthought.

While the room is a give-away… Even the most basic, required equipment is offered at a premium. Flip charts are $60 each. Another $15 if you want an easel to put it on. An LCD projector is $800. If you want the projector to sit on something… the cart with extension cord is another $200.

Why are we happy to settle for bare bones space?

Of all the specialized tools we use, to give us an edge in business, why do we not consider the venue – where we need to create ideas and make million/billion-dollar plans – as a ‘tool’ in that process?

November 2009

Off-Site Meetings: Last Century Technology

By | 2012-05-07T22:30:51+00:00 16 November 2009|Categories: Destination, SandBlog|Tags: , , , , , , |

The most up to date list of locations can be found on the Places page within Brainstorming Tools section.

Did use an abacus or slide rule to build your FY’10 budgets?

To prepare and distribute information about next year’s Marketing Plan did you use a typewriter and make a duplicate with a layer of ink paper?

Or did you hand crank copies on a Ditto (or Verifax) machine?

 

Of course you didn’t. That would be crazy and inefficient. We have invented better and more efficient tools.

With that said.. while we are in the 21st century… there is a tool that is stuck somewhere in the mid-1900s: The Off-Site Meeting.

It is interesting we don’t perceive meetings as a “tool” the same way we do a photocopier, computer, or even the coffee maker.

And, of all meetings, the “off-site” is critically important. So important, it warrants sending a hand-picked group away from the office, sleeping away from their families, huddled in a hotel conference room for three days, not allowed to return with out “the plan.”

Yet we put no thought to the meeting room. It is a “people container.”

Meeting Space = Commodity

Look up commodity in the dictionary, and there will be a picture of a hotel meeting room. Tan. Accordion folding walls. Wall to wall patterned carpeting. Sweaty pitchers of water dripping into black coasters. A small paper pad and hotel logo pen. Sums up 99.9% of the meetings and conferences you’ve attended, right?

And we don’t care… when we book it. We ask the office admin to call around and find a cheap place that can hold the number of people we’re bringing. If there was a preference, it would be something like: “Oh, let’s stay at that place we were last timelikes their Caesar salad.”

Yet, as marketers and business people we intimately understand the importance of environment and ambiance and the affect it has on behavior and action. We create it for our customers everyday. Especially right now, the holiday season is when we pull out the stops! Christmas lights, holiday music, decorations, special programs and themes… All this to create a more pleasant environment mood and environment conducive for purchasing.

Pay Per Stomach

And the hotel doesn’t care… what you do in the room. They just want to know how many stomachs will be present.

Catering Manager:

    “How many?”

Your Assistant:

    “18 maybe 20.”

Catering Manager:

    “Okay, that’ll be $45 per person for breakfast, buffet-style lunch, and an afternoon snack.”

We literally pay “per stomach.”

And, because the rooms are where hotels make their money – book enough rooms and there is no additional charge for use of the room – just the food costs. But, of course that does NOT include all the tools for the meeting itself. Add on fees for renting the projector, a mic, access to the internet, easels, flipcharts…

The room is tan to be generic. To accommodate yesterday’s Bar Mitzvah, your meeting today, and the wedding reception this weekend.

That is the venue that we think will inspire the multi-million dollar strategy and “killer idea?”

Today’s meeting spaces are the equivalent of using the Ditto machine. With hard work you can crank stuff out… But your results will be inconsistent, sloppy, and slightly blurry.

The Solution?

Hire A Better Space – If you’re going to have an off-site where creative thinking, problem solving, and new ideas are involved – get yourself into a space that will inspire you – yet not be distracting for your work.

Below I’ve listed a few places throughout the United States and Europe built to be a creative space for creating thinking. But it doesn’t have to be a ‘meeting space’ either. You could get inspiration from your local art museum, science museum, or zoo. Find a place that works for your particular group.

Hire A Better Lead – If you don’t have someone on your team skilled at leading groups or drawing ideas out of people – hire someone. (This will also allow you to relax and focus on coming up with the “killer idea” instead of running the meeting).

What spaces have you found inspiration for you and your team?

This article originally posted on the Marketing Prof’s Daily Fix Blog.
Image Source: OfficeMuseum.com