A few days ago, I had the opportunity to organize and facilitate a half-day meeting with the objective of defining a Commercial Vision. Similar to a corporate vision, the commercial vision is a long-term endeavour used to align and inspire people and communicate a common objective for the organization. The distinction with the commercial vision is that the commercial vision is strictly from a business development and commercial perspective. The commercial vision is a sub-section of the overall corporate vision.
Below is the facilitation approach I used and judging from the level of involvement of the participants, the energy level in the room throughout the morning, and the results of the end-of-session feedback, I would have to say it was a success. In an attempt to share the approach I am publishing the steps and activities used during the meeting. I welcome your comments.
Preparation (before the meeting)
- The topic for the meeting was : Vision 2020.
- To set the stage, I posted on the wall 20 newspaper articles from 2020.
- I also put up 30 words, each on their own 8.5 x 11 sheet.
[Note: In addition to creating some interest, participants immediately started sharing their thoughts about the newspaper articles. The newspaper articles were a nice ice breaker]
Welcome (10 minutes)
- Thank the participants for attending the meeting and ask them to keep an open mind – beside establishing a Vision for 2020, there is no set goal for the meeting.
- Explain to the participants that the purpose of the exercise is to provide a common framework for the commercial development of the organization.
- The end result (the Vision) is not cast in concrete – it is simply a direction.
Round Table (10 minutes)
- Ask each participant what their expectations are from the meeting?
[Note: In addition to getting people to start opening up and initiating conversation, the round table is useful for the facilitator to understand the expectations and aim to achieve them]
Reason for the meeting (10 minutes)
- Ask each participant if they are wondering why we want to talk about a commercial vision?
[Note: The objective is to anticipate and address any reservation that participants may have before getting into the meat of the meeting]
Introduction (5 minutes)
- Presentation of Apple’s video.
- The Vision traces a common goal without dictating the means to achieve it. Our goal is to provide a Vision and then allow individuals the opportunity and means to achieve it.
- The actions and behavior of people will be in line with the Vision once it is clearly established.
Tantrix Game (15 minutes)
- To create a break from their other thoughts and create a space for creativity, I invited the participants to play the Tantrix Game.
- The goal of this exercise is to force a break from routine activities so participants can then focus on the meeting.
- In addition to creating a fun environment, the game allowed for some friendly competition – each participant wanting to complete the game before their colleague.
Defining the Vision (60 minutes)
- When participants are ready to share their idea of a commercial Vision, they share their Vision with the rest of the participants and then write a summary of the Vision on a 4 x 6 index card.
- The game has 2 simple rules: when a participant builds on the idea of another participant, he must begin his sentence with “AND“, and it is strictly prohibited to use any negative terms such as but, however, no, can’t, etc. to express the Vision.
- In the latter case, the use of negative terms leads to a consequences for the offending participant (10 push-ups).
Break (10 minutes)
Aggregation of Ideas (20 minutes)
- The group is divided into teams of 3 to 5 participants.
- The facilitator gathers all the index cards and splits them into as many piles as there are teams.
- Each team receives a stack of 4 x 6 index cards.
- Each teams work independently to determine 3 to 5 main themes based on the cards they have received.
Presentation (10 minutes per team)
- Each team selects a representative to present the rest of the group the 3 to 5 main themes.
- The objective is to derive common themes in order to build upon them in the second part of the meeting.
Lunch Break (60 minutes)
Writing the Vision (30 minutes)
- Once again, the group is divided into groups of 3 to 5 participants.
- The teams can be the same or different from the previous exercise.
- The objective of the exercise is to ask the teams to write a one-page magazine article to complete the news the appeared on the cover of the October 14, 2020 “Fortune 3000” magazine following the commercial success of their organization.
Sharing the Vision (10 minutes per team)
- Each team in the group reads the contents of their magazine article.
Aggregation of the Visions (15 minutes)
- As a single group, participants work to write an article covering the perspective of each team to achieve a common vision for the whole group.
Reading the Vision (5 minutes)
- As a conclusion to the exercise, one participant reads the final version of the magazine article (the Vision) to the entire group.
Retrospective (30 minutes)
- Participants voice their assessment of the meeting by answering the following questions: what part of the meeting were pathetic? what elements of the meeting went very smoothly? what could be added to the meeting in order to improve next time.
Wrap-up (5 minutes)
- The facilitator thanks the participants for their contribution and dissolve the meeting.