“What are we trying to accomplish with the meeting?” is the first question that organizations should ask themselves during planning stages, noted Abe Eshkenazi, CSP, CPA, CAE, the CEO of APICS - Association for Operations Management. “Organizations should have a strategy that clearly states how meetings fit into the overall plan.” He shared his views at a recent Association Forum SIG meeting entitled “What Your CEO Really Wants from You.”
The next questions are “How will we do this?” especially when other departments are involved, and “How will we measure it?” to know if we made an impact.
It’s vital to ask “How will we mitigate?” and to have mitigation strategies in place. Eshkenazi emphasized his number one rule – “No surprises.” He said that there is no reason for a surprise, which shows that something was missed. “The problem is that a surprise limits your options.” Planners can benefit from reaching out to their counterparts at other organizations. He suggested the CASE method – “Copy and Steal Everything.” Mitigating surprises before the event can ease on-site management and allow time to handle on-site challenges.
He urged planners to move away from tactics into leadership, suggesting that planners “engage in conversations about what we are trying to do in the organization.” He observed that most meeting departments are reactive rather than proactive, and he encourages planners to lead and to “look for opportunities to reframe what you do for the organization (with buy-in from the CEO).” Creativity is also important. “Give yourself the opportunity to do something different. Anyone can repeat from last year.”
Eshkenazi remarked that planners “excel at on-site management” and don’t receive credit when all goes well. Ask, “What are we doing and what do we want to accomplish?” He stressed the importance of doing a post-mortem after the meeting or event and said that staff should take notes regarding what went right and wrong throughout the event. “Dissect all tactical activities. Making a mistake once is okay; twice is not.”
“A CEO shouldn’t have to tell you how to do your job regarding leadership and strategy. You have to judge your CEO’s style,” he concluded.