Insights

SMM: Are We Complicating a Ham Sandwich?

Simplify. Streamline. Do more with less. Do those things sound familiar?

Life can be complicated, leaving many of us constantly seeking ways to make things easier and more efficient. So in this age of simplification, why do we continue to view Strategic Meetings Management as so complex?

Are we, as an industry, viewing it all wrong? Are we over complicating a ham sandwich? Strategic Meetings Management should be flexible, nimble and…strategic. SMM doesn’t have to be as complex and daunting as we’ve grown accustomed to thinking of it. By staying true to three principals, you can simplify your program and in turn, simplify your life. (Isn’t that something we all want?)

First, and this one will take some time and thought, is establishing the why?

Why are you and your organization devoting valuable time, energy and resources to this initiative or process? Cost savings, sure. Increased efficiencies, yes. Compliance, of course. But what else that is unique to your company? Naturally, the answer will vary by stakeholder. Understanding the driving force or forces behind each of your sponsors will lay the foundation for success, as it creates cohesion in the reasoning behind why you are developing a meetings management program in the first place. Consider all the different individuals and departments that are affected and will have opinions: finance, legal, sales, IT, marketing all will have a different stake in the game. By understanding and articulating THEIR why, you create a wave of momentum and buy-in, ensuring clarity on objectives and success measurements. Mutual objectives always drive the most synergy and knowing the WHY leads to the next step.

Second is engaging your stakeholders early and often

This can be formal (think advisory board, planning committee, executive sponsors) or informal. Your own company’s culture will dictate how you engage and garner support. As the champion of the program, you know your people and the best path to get there. Frequency and follow up are key factors here as well. Think about a time when you’ve been asked to help on a project. The initiative is launched and then what? How did it do? What were/are the roadblocks? Once you have people engaged and involved with their WHY, they are invested! Keep them informed. Giving people the opportunity to feel some level of contribution and ownership of a project is the best route to success. Timelines with deliverables are effective here or consider a simple project plan to drive anticipation and accountability. Most important is celebrating milestones, no matter the size of impact. Success is a journey after all, not a destination.

Third is building intelligent metrics to keep a pulse on the program and deliver actionable data to help enhance, optimize it

As mentioned above, engaging your stakeholders is crucial to the success of your program, and it is equally as important once the program is launched. Metrics that bring insight into the successes or opportunities from your program should be an ongoing effort. Data and fact-based rationale help to drive logical business decisions and initiatives forward. Use data to speak with your stakeholder groups and executives. Show the potential and ROI on optimization approaches and opportunities to enhance your program. Show value against your objectives. Always circle back and always remember to tie this back to the WHY.

 

It’s that simple. Know your why, engage your stakeholders early and often, and build metrics to keep optimizing your program. If you can truly master these three principles, you will have the foundation for ongoing success. Now back to that ham sandwich…

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