As you all know, I am a big believer in strategic meetings management. And as you also know, I am often perplexed by the fact that many organizations have not adopted the three core requirements of SMM: a comprehensive meetings policy, standardized processes and procedures for sourcing and planning, and a meetings technology platform to assist in sourcing, attendee management, budgeting and reporting. I have written on this topic many, many, many, many times.

As an industry consultant, I have advised companies on how to design, build and operate their SMM programs, and I stress the importance of using common change-management techniques such as creating consensus and buy-in from key stakeholders (business owners, internal meeting planners, and senior executives) at the beginning of the project. That’s as opposed to gaining buy-in during implementation without having already collected their input. Not involving stakeholders in the design phase of the initiative inevitably leads to resistance to the program, and can even cause a cascade effect whereby multiple divisions, operating companies, or countries, get an exemption from the program.

The challenge has always been exactly how to get the stakeholders engaged in the program design process early enough to make a difference. Well today I’m going to tell you about a way to approach this that I think will work.  Recently I was invited to facilitate two workshops at a corporate meeting.  My topics were “Development of a Meetings Policy” and “Putting the Strategy Back in Strategic Meetings Management.”  The corporate event was a launch of the company’s SMM program, and the attendees were dozens of key meetings stakeholders from around the world.

Over the two days of the event, I watched as the stakeholders embraced the vision and became active participants in building the program. During the policy session, I watched as 50 participants weighed in on which clauses to include in the policy that were consistent with the culture of their organization. I have no doubt that the policy that eventually emerges from this process will truly reflect the needs of this organization, and will therefore be more widely accepted than most policies.

Other event sessions addressed the need for a meetings management program, the global structure, how to address compliance, and the processes of change and transformation. Sessions were a combination of presentations and collaboration, and I’m certain that all attendees left the four day event feeling bought-in and that their needs were not only heard but also baked into the program. All in all, a great success.

Do you think this approach might work at your company?  Leave a comment and let me know what you think. See you next time.