Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hit the Road! (8/12)

Last time ("Create the Real-World Dream Teams") we talked about the people who will be most involved in getting things off to a good start in our knowledge sharing program. Now, let's put them into a conference room at the Customer's offices and get started!

"What!?" you may exclaim. Take those valuable day-to-day skills, that priceless energy, and send it away from the EF (Entrepreneurial Firm). Why, these two people are the very ones who are missed so much when they are away on vacation that the entire company is aware of their absence on the morning of the first day away. (Which of course is also exactly the reason that they are so valuable in front of the customer!)

If properly organized, each Customer Listening and Knowledge Sharing kickoff meeting will be accomplished in several hours. Because of the number of participants from the Customer's organization is likely between 4 and 6, it simply makes sense to hold the kickoff meeting at the Customer's location. The content for the kickoff meeting, as stated in previous chapters, comes primarily from the Customer representatives. The participation and availability of each and every one of them is crucial. The best way to insure their attendance is to hold the meeting under their rooftop.

Alright, the Customer representatives and the EF's representatives have all assembled in a comfortable conference room at the Customer's offices. It is interesting to note that the two representatives of the EF are NOT sitting next to each other. Even more importantly, they are NOT sitting on the opposite side of the table (assuming it is a quadrilateral) from the Customer representatives. This is a joint effort -- one team, inclusive of all participants is at work. Establishing the shoulder-to-shoulder work ethic is key, right up front.

To get the ball (and conversation) rolling, numerous copies of the suggested discussion topics (AKA "agenda") are available so that conversational ideas are triggered in the minds of all participants real-time. The FAC (Facilitator) reiterates the reasons for the meeting, the goals of this meeting, confidentiality commitments, the Customer focus and, most importantly, the ongoing nature of the knowledge-sharing relationship.

And, that's it! Having consumed no more "talk-time" with this intro than 5 minutes, the FAC quickly tosses the baton to the "speakers" for the event -- the Customer participants -- and entrenches himself in his "listener" mode. A simple thought-provoking statement from the FAC easily kicks things off. Perhaps something like, "I suppose that you are devoting a lot of time to new, strategic markets right now."

Somehow, the very voicing of the word "strategic" always seems to set brain cells at "all-systems-alert status"! All participants either ARE or want to APPEAR TO BE involved with strategic issues. Better yet, each wants others to recognize that he/she is involved with strategic issues.

And they're off! Because we all really DO find a great deal of interest in our jobs and really DO want to do good work and really DO want our companies to be successful, the conversation quickly achieves its focus. And there we are, talking with all our convictions in gear about what it will take to produce that success.

Next time, we'll make sure that the conversation KEEPS rolling, with good content, and that we don't lose track of even a single, valuable thought.

Part 8 of 12, Lyn Gosz, Gosz Group Technology Planners