Leadership Summit season

Opencity Inc., LeadershipForum, Leadership Summit, Igloo Software, HBR, @gregiej, Strategy & Digital Communications experts

We enter a busy time for Leadership Summits across many multi-national corporations.

I recommend a thought provoking article from last year’s March 2015 Harvard Business Review by Bob Frisch and Cary Greene called Leadership Summits That Work. It is timely for many companies as we deliver on our latest annual conference for senior executives.

These are my reflection on Frisch & Greene’s article and how my last company stacked up against their best practice recommendations. Our last Leadership Summit used the theme Lead – Create – Perform in the historical music city of Vienna. This was wonderfully complemented with the orchestra theme and conducting led by Dominic Alldis.

First, the Leadership Summit is just one important component of the ongoing internal communications process. It is fundamental to the clarity of strategy.

To me if our participant’s feedback was that the Summit was interesting then that would be an utter disaster. The acid test to me, is that with 400 man-days of top executives time committed, then they must wholeheartedly indicate that it was a valuable use of their time.

The planning of the Summit must start with a solid brief, clearly defining the objectives, expected outcomes, project team and stakeholders. For those organisations that lack the breadth of human resource described by Frisch & Greene, planning needs to start in earnest earlier.  We became highly systematic in planning from the agreed brief described. This drives the choice of creative theme, thus location and also who should participate. This is in contrast to old practices of booking the venue first, inviting the usual leaders and then deciding with what to fill the allotted agenda time.

Through recent Leadership Summits in Reykjavik, Miami, Abu Dhabi and Vienna we have been very focussed with each successive meeting to improve prior engagement and cascading of messaging and commitments following. More recently we have found Igloo Software a great platform tool to achieve these.

In our latest Leadership Summit 85% of participants stated that we had addressed the key themes, 88% believed it had exceeded or very much exceeded their expectations and 76% believed it had kick-started our strategy.

Leadership Summit key factors for success

  1. Plan early with a detailed brief
  2. Be very sequential in your decision making process with objectives and expected outcomes that drive the theme, location, who should attend and the budget
  3. Devise how you can engage participants prior to the summit and prepare in advance the mechanism for dissemination of core outputs to the wider organisation
  4. Brief all external speakers and internal facilitators very thoroughly
  5. Be sure to measure both pre and post levels of the core objective message

We all have more to learn and there are some great nuggets contained in Frisch & Greene’s HBR article. Be sure to apply these and our recommendations on the key factors for success for your 2016 Leadership Summit. Good luck.

Adapted from an original post in March 2015 on LinkedIn Pulse by John Gregory