Case Study: The Critical Meeting

A Product Development manager knew the strategic planning session his VP was organizing needed professional facilitation to stay on track. They were flying in key marketing and technical leads from around the world to create a complex five-year strategy and product roadmap – and they were prone as a team to go down rat holes, talking in unnecessary technical detail. Due to other pressing commitments, they had just one day together and couldn’t afford to lose time or focus…

JCG’s principal consultant Jane Cavanaugh was brought in to facilitate this high-stakes meeting. She met with the Product Development manager and his VP to learn more about the team dynamics and what they needed to accomplish at the one-day offsite. It turned out rat holes weren’t the only concern.

To create an innovative, forward thinking product road map that kept the company competitive and cutting edge, it was vital for all ideas to be heard and considered. But as a group, they tended toward “critical thinking;” they were more likely to critique an idea than explore its possibilities. Cultural and personality differences meant some people tended to dominate the conversation, while others with valuable input rarely spoke up.

Jane designed an agenda based on the VP’s goals for the session and key results he wanted to achieve by the end of the day. She carefully chose meeting processes she knew would allow in all voices and prevent premature criticism of ideas. In case a rich discussion needed to go on longer than planned, Jane also made agreements with the VP on how they’d negotiate agenda changes during the meeting. They talked about what was critical to accomplish and planned ahead for what could be done after the meeting if time ran out.

At the end of the day, the team was extremely satisfied with what they had accomplished. They gave Jane feedback that her facilitation and processes had kept them to just the right level of discussion, brought in everyone’s valuable voice and ideas, and led them to solid well thought out decisions. They were impressed with how fluidly she managed the participants and highly technical conversation; it felt like she immediately became part of the team.

Their five-year road map included defining the value proposition for each new proposed market segment, key applications to create for top customers, which partners and technologies would be required, and a list of the challenges and gaps they’d have to overcome. They’d have to work through these over time, but they had everything they needed to present to senior leadership for final approval.

When you bring together a roomful of significant participants—such as key partners or customers, senior leadership, or your entire extended team—time is valuable, stakes are often high. J Cavanaugh Group can help you design and run a meeting that gets you the results you need and makes the best use of your time together. Click here to learn more about meeting facilitation and what it can do for your company.