Leveraging Collateral Material

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

It has been my experience that most businesses fall into either one of two categories when it comes to marketing and collateral material…They either understand how to leverage collateral material to add value to the sales and branding process or they don’t. I’ve personally witnessed any number of companies that have very little, if any collateral material because it’s viewed as a frivolous expenditure of funds. Conversely I’ve observed other companies who massively over spend on the development of their collateral material only to suffer from under utilization, or worse yet no utilization at all of the material created. In today’s post I’ll provide some guidelines for getting the most bang for your buck with regard to your corporae collateral material…

I could probably author a hundred different posts on the topic of marketing materials…I could write about design, content development, brand continuity, etc. and could cover everything from business cards to wikis. However in today’s post I’m going to focus on the topics of distribution and metrics in order to provide you with the information that will allow you to most effectively quantify and leverage your return on investment.  

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with traditional printed material that can be used in pre-sales development via direct mail, trade shows, leave behinds, etc. this is not where you’ll realize your greatest return. It is grossly optimistic to believe that printed collateral material traditionally distributed will create any short-term incremental growth in revenue, and even if you believe it can, you’d have a hard time proving it…

I’m a big believer in digitizing all of your collateral so that you can leverage distribution, add real value to the sales process and most importantly have access to real time analytics that are trackable and traceable. If you create digital copies/versions of brochures, case studies, opinion papers, research papers, white papers, articles, etc. they can be leveraged across a greater variety of distribution channels such as:

  • Being uploaded to your corporate website or stand alone microsites;
  • Indexed on the search engines;
  • Used in e-mail campaigns;
  • Appended to blogs, wikis, news groups and forums, and;
  • Used to aid in web conferences and online presentations. 

By uploading your content to your corporate website or a stand alone microsite you will not only improve the quality of your internet presence and enhance user experience, but you can also turn the collateral material into a powerful direct marketing tool by using any of the following strategies:

  • Creating a direct revenue source by selling your research or information; 
  • Using the information as an incentive to participate in a particular offering, and;
  • Using the information as a lead generation tool by requiring user registration in order to subscribe to a service or download the information.

As mentioned earlier in the post, by “webatizing” your collateral you will have access to metrics that can provide a wide array of qualitative and quantitative analytics that provide you with real time information that is trackable and traceable. Another benefit of digitizing your collateral material is that it can be optimized with meta data that in turn will allow it to be indexed on the search engines and found via relevant key word searches.

Bottom line…you can choose to market “old school” and just hope your collateral material gets used and that you receive some benefit or you can intelligently use digital collateral to mine for data, drive leads, set appointments, drive sales and enhance online visibility. The more visible your company, its products and your staff are on the Internet the more likely you are to maximize your return on investment by increasing revenue, brand awareness and mind share.     

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Columbia University…Round 2

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Today’s post is a follow-up to Friday’s blog regarding Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s invitation to speak at Columbia University (If you didn’t read the original piece start here).  I hadn’t intended to follow-up on Ahmadinejad’s speech yesterday, but the combination of inquiries and post debate fall-out has inspired me to do just exactly that.

You see the reality of the situation is that you didn’t need to view Ahmadinejad’s speech yesterday to know where he stood on issues. There are significant amounts of readily available content accessible to most people (at least those who reside outside Iran) that cite chapter and verse his record of deceit, delusional beliefs, human rights violations and terrorist activities. Okay sure, it was amusing to hear him deny that homosexuality doesn’t exist in Iran, or to listen to him attempt to state that incontrovertible historical facts are to be looked at in the same fashion as scientific theory (last time I checked there was a very definable difference between fact and theory), but there was a huge price that we all paid for being entertained. Columbia University President Lee Bollinger’s grand standing and face saving attempt (while I agreed with the positions he espoused) did far more harm than good.

Again, nobody can deny that it was certainly interesting to watch Ahmadinejad “bob-and-weave” however it was clear to anyone with a discerning eye that he is not a credible person. Therein lies the problem The Iranian people won’t see what we saw yesterday. In fact, there have already been clips released on Iranian TV showing very tightly edited pieces making Ahmadinejad look very credible while Columbia President Bollinger comes across as attackingly rude and arrogant. At the end of the day I fear all that happened yesterday was to accomplish what I thought would happen if Ahmadinejad was allowed to have a platform to speak He is now in possession of media clips and sound bites that he can strategically use as unifying propaganda pieces amongst the Iranian people.

Where Bollinger got it wrong was this had nothing to do with free speech or public discourse and everything to do with poor decisioning by Columbia University to give a terrorist a prestigious platform to use for his evil purposes that will continue to place American lives at risk. As I said above this isn’t about first amendment rights, but rather it is a case of just doing the right thing.

I do believe very strongly that there is a clear existence of “right and wrong” in this world. I am willing and capable of forgiving wrong doing where there is contrition, acceptance of responsibility and a sense of remorse. Building rapport and closing gaps in philosophical or ideological differences in these situations is what I believe we should rightly expect of all human beings. However this war on terror goes far beyond simple philosophical differences. I believe it is nothing short of foolishness to blur the lines of common sense with politically correct thinking when you’re dealing with someone who has blood on his hands and is publicly engaged in attempting to take American lives.

As a nation we need to be able to understand and draw a distinction between “good vs. evil” as I believe there is a clear difference between acts of wrong doing and acts of “evil”. Evil has always existed in this world and regrettably I believe it always will. I don’t believe this is necessarily a question of “flags” as there is an element of evil residing in every culture. Simply wishing evil doesn’t exist or wanting to look past its existence does not mean that it is not ever present. Evil shows no remorse or contrition Evil does not discriminate and evil can strike at a moments notice as we witness on the news each and every day. It is evil that I see as everyone’s enemy and that I choose (it is clearly a choice) not to seek common ground with or to build rapport with.

You cannot negotiate with evil as evil is not trustworthy and will not honor commitments and promises. I don’t mean to come-off as cynical or jaded, but I simply believe in dealing with the reality at hand (at least as I see it). We are at war and need to wake up to that fact…

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The Declining US Dollar

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Today’s Myatt on Monday’s question was posed by a business school professor who asked: “Do you think we should be worried about the devaluation of the US Dollar?” While the short answer is yes, the reasons underlying the answer are both far reaching and complex. In today’s post I’ll not only give you my thinking on the US Dollar, but also its relationship to more macro economic concerns that left unchecked could give way to the potential for a US recession…

Let’s begin by examining the semi-recent history of the US Dollar (a very brief summary due to space requirements). Prior to World War II it was the British pound sterling which resembled the closest thing to a global standard for currency. The strength of the pound at that time was largely due to the fact that it was issued by an Empire upon which the sun never set. However the fact that neither the Empire nor the British economy survived the war intact gave rise to the growing strength of the US Dollar around the world. During the post war economy the US Dollar continued to grow in strength as the American economy became a worldwide juggernaut building a dominant trade surplus with most of the nations around the world. 

While the US Dollar would ebb and flow in its strength over the years with events like the economic battle with the Soviet Union that was waged coterminously with the cold war, the United States declining oil production and resultant increasing dependency on oil imports, the evaporation of our trade surplus and mounting foreign deficit and finally the emergence of strong Asian and European economies, it was the establishment of a single European currency that was perhaps the final nail in the coffin.

Fast forward to last Friday when the US dollar traded down against 11 of the 16 major world currencies and at all time lows against the Euro and it becomes readily apparent to even the most casual observer that a seed change has taken place in the global currency markets. Perhaps most telling is that even the Canadian dollar is now worth more than the US dollar for the first time since the mid 70′s (That bargain Whistler ski vacation of years past just got a bit more expensive).

Certainly a major contributing factor to the US dollar’s devaluation last week was the Fed’s easing by cutting interests rates with an aggressive .50 basis point reduction. Along with recent capital infusions this was clearly another defensive move by the Fed to allay concerns over the credit crisis and the consensus opinion that commerce department’s release of home sales data later this week will show yet another decline. Furthermore many speculate the Fed may yet again ease interest rates by another .15 to .25 basis points when they meet again at the end of October.

While my crystal ball is certainly no better than anyone else’s I tend to look at the mounting economic data which depending upon how one connects the dots could certainly give credence to the possibility of a looming recession. Let’s take a look at just some of the data and I’ll let you draw your own conclusions:

  • Mounting budget and trade deficits
  • Historically weak US dollar
  • A credit crisis that is just now beginning to rear its ugly head
  • Waning consumer confidence
  • The Fed’s aggressive economic policy in an attempt to engineer a soft landing
  • August decline in the US non-agricultural employment index

Bottom line…the US dollar is no longer the default world standard currency and economic events of late certainly could be construed to paint a bleak economic picture which does not bode well for the US in general. That being said I am not a doomsdayer in my outlook. Just as markets cycle so do economies and there is a natural cleansing process that must occur to keep financial markets healthy and robust. Just as a stock market often takes a breather before moving onward, economies also have regular periods of expansion and contraction. We are clearly already in the midst of an economic slowdown, but whether it will lead to a recession is my opinion still to early to call. What I can say with a certain amount of confidence is that things are likely to get a bit worse before we see improvement.

Columbia Univeristy

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Let me begin today’s post with fair warning to those who read this blog for its business related content…While today’s topic has little to do with business, it is nonetheless something I feel compelled to address. The actions of Columbia University in inviting Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak to the student body are nothing short of irresponsible and in my opinion are borderline treasonous. So, if you’re in the mood for one of my infrequent but passionate rants I invite you to read on…If not, join me on Monday when we’ll get back to business as usual.

I think a fair place to begin is by stating that I fully understand and support our university system in its role as a bastion for free speech and peaceful public discourse. Our students should be encouraged to engage in vigorous debate on a wide array of subjects even those deemed controversial. That being said, it is one thing to have a classroom debate discussing pros and cons of various issues, but quite another to provide a platform for terrorists attempting to influence the minds of our youth. Providing a known terrorist with a platform to spread propagandist messages of hate has little to do with free speech. Why would Columbia University even consider giving Ahmadinejad an opportunity to have a PR spotlight to advance a cause so adverse to the safety and security of our troops and frankly the world at large?

Where does one draw the line between typical liberal academic ideology and the history of reprehensible actions and flawed administrative decisions that exist at Columbia University? This prestigious Ivy League university banned ROTC from its campus because of the military’s “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy yet they invite Ahmadinejad to speak when he just recently ordered the public flogging and execution of two persons in Iran because they were homosexuals. Can you say hypocritical?

I think it is bad enough that Columbia has hosted former Nazis and terrorists speaking on campus, but inviting the President of a country who has publicly stated that the holocaust never existed and that he wants to wipe Israel off the map is absolutely ridiculous. Ahmadinejad has publicly stated his anti-American position on numerous occasions and funds terrorist and subversive activities around the world, and in particular in the Mid East where Iran trains and arms our enemies causing loss of life among our troops. Ahmadinejad has openly defied international sanctions and advanced the proliferation of a nuclear weapons program and he gets an invitation to speak…go figure. We are at war and Ahmadinejad is the commander in chief of the enemy…Why is this so difficult to understand and why isn’t there more public outrage?

Bottom line…Lee Bollinger the president of Columbia University is a disgrace and should be held accountable for his actions. My question is this…Should a university president who offers more support to an international terrorist than he does our military, and who has a history of making poor decisions be allowed to remain in his current position? I think not, and I encourage you to make your own decisions and then act accordingly. Enough is enough…

So, You Want To Be An Entrepreneur?

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

While every entrepreneur has their own motivation for going into business, based on my experience the following statements reflect a valid representative sampling of the most common reasons; to create more income; to create a better life for their family; to work their own hours; to be their own boss; to have economic freedom, and; to live the American Dream.

The reasons noted above are certainly good reasons, and, perhaps in an idealistic fashion, the right reasons to go into business. However while keeping these enthusiastic ideals in mind it is perhaps even more beneficial to examine the other side of what happens to many who embark upon the path of entrepreneurship.

Have you ever known someone who’s gone into business only to do nothing more than just buy a job? Let me explain what I mean Have you ever watched an individual invest their life savings in a business, put everything they own at risk, work 70 hour weeks, take on the responsibility of overhead and employees and when all is said and done earn less than they would have working 9 to 5 for someone else? These people have in reality bought a job No; actually they’ve bought a really bad job! This all too common but avoidable scenario exists because the entrepreneur has gaps in skill sets or competencies that keeps him/her from generating a net profit while maintaining a sane lifestyle.

Having advised many executives spanning companies of different sizes across a variety of sectors and verticals, I am convinced that the path to entrepreneurial nirvana is to learn how to maintain balance while consistently generating net profit.

I don’t care what your gross sales are It doesn’t matter to me that your product has the most competitive price I’m not interested in how many times you turn your inventory or that you’re expanding your operations or adding headcount. None of these things matter if your company is not profitable, or if your company is profitable but you have no life.

So how do you learn to maintain balance while achieving your goals? To begin with, reflect upon the reason you went into business and do a gut check Are you staying focused on your mission remembering that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing? Or have you allowed yourself to get caught-up in majoring in the minors that are dilutive and serving as barriers to achieving your goals? Business is not much different than sports in the sense that every now and then you need to get back to fundamentals and just focus on blocking and tackling. The first step to getting on track is to work towards a yes answer for each of the following questions:

  1. Are you operating based upon a vision, mission and strategy which determined your objectives and tactical approach to operating your business?
  2. Are there strong financial controls in place that provide you with the financial information you need to make good decisions based upon solid underlying business logic?
  3. Did you properly engineer your capital structure so that the business is properly capitalized with the right blend of senior debt, subordinate debt and equity?
  4. Is your go-to-market strategy well defined such that you are using a combination of distribution strategies designed to extend your reach and penetration at the lowest cost of sales?
  5. Have you done your homework? Do you actively use market research and business intelligence to insure that you’re making the right decisions for the right reasons at the right times?
  6. Do you understand your customer’s needs and wants and build your company around fulfilling said needs and wants?
  7. Do you focus on the right metrics or just the easiest ones to measure when evaluating your results? 
  8. Have you hired tier-one talent, deployed them properly, mentored them successfully and delegated to a maximum level of efficiency?
  9. Have you surrounded yourself with tier-one professional advisors who can help you navigate the complexities of today’s competitive marketplace?
  10. Do you have regular strategic planning sessions with your executive team?
  11. Do you treat your brand as your most valuable corporate asset and proactively seek to increase brand equity?

If you can’t answer yes to a majority of the questions above I will virtually guarantee that you are working harder than needed while not achieving the results you’re capable of.

Your Biggest Asset

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth 

So, what is your biggest asset? Before the masters of the obvious respond by answering whatever asset holds the most value on the balance sheet, I should state that I’m addressing this question to personal assets qualitatively measured as opposed to corporate assets being quantitatively accounted for. Even with this qualifying statement this is clearly a question that will spur vigorous debate. However I have come to believe the answer is obvious to those that have thought it through. While without question valuable and no doubt integral parts of your personal arsenal, your biggest assets are not your personal brand, your talent, your keen intellect, your charisma, your character, or other commonly thought of personal strengths or attributes. Rather your largest personal asset is the relationships you possess. In today’s post I’ll discuss the often unrecognized value of relationships.

As executives and entrepreneurs nothing is more valuable than the quality of your relationships. Whether you realize it or not, your success in business will largely be dependant upon your ability to not only establish key relationships, but in your ability to leverage and influence your relationships. We have all known professionals that have been smarter, more affable, better looking, possess a better CV, or are more talented, yet they never seem to rise to the top. These professionals that seem to have the whole package yet can’t reach the brass ring have failed to understand the power of relationships. Even more regrettable is the person who has the rolodex to die for who doesn’t do anything with it. In the text that follows I’ll discuss how to build a powerful sphere of influence.

Let me begin by defining what I like to call the relationship value chain. We all have a personal network, but as I’m sure you’ve come to realize many people within your network are for lack of better definition inactive contacts or acquaintances. The majority of people in your network are people that while known to you are not perceived to be high value contacts and you therefore don’t invest yourself heavily in building relationships among that group. Moving up the food chain from inactive contacts you’ll find your active contacts are perceived to be of higher value such that you have taken the time and investment to build a relationship. Then at the top of the food chain are your power contacts. These contacts comprise the contacts that can create influence, open doors and generally make things happen. I actually prefer the term personal sphere of influence over network as it is a more action oriented descriptor and helps to keep me focused.

Lest you think I’m overly mercenary in my approach and only view people as pawns in a chess game let me introduce you to Myatt’s golden rule of relationship management: “Give, give, give some more, give until it hurts and then when you have nothing left to give, you guessed it…give even more”. The best relationships are built by helping others succeed. It is through assisting others in reaching their goals and objectives that you will find success. Reflect back upon your own experience and contrast the responses you’ve received when you ask for help from someone that you’ve previously provided assistance to vs. asking the same favor from a casual acquaintance that you’ve never lifted a finger to help.

Generally speaking there are two types of spheres of influence…those that just evolve over time by default and those that are strategically engineered. I have spent years developing contacts spanning geographies, industries and practice areas that I have invested both time and money developing to a high level of mutual benefit. People in my network benefit from my active pursuit of helping them achieve their objectives and I in turn benefit from their reciprocal treatment. 

The problem is that most professionals even if they intellectually understand the benefits of what I’m espousing just don’t do the work it takes to build a powerful network. Great networks take great amounts of effort. Think of the most successful people you’ve ever known and they will always seem to know the right person to call on in any given situation to influence or decision the needed outcome. This type of influence doesn’t just happen, rather it has taken years of painstaking effort. If you want to create a powerful sphere of influence start by taking the following two steps:

  1. Take pause and examine where you are currently in your professional career as contrasted with where you want to go. Think about the people who could help you reach your destination more quickly and efficiently. Don’t put any artificial ceilings on your thinking…If knowing Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Michael Dell, etc. would be of benefit take note of this and remember that almost anyone on the planet is only six degrees of separation away from you.
  2. Once you have a clear vision of where you want to go take a personal inventory of your contact database. See who it is that you know, but also pay attention to who they know. Review in detail each and every contact in your database and rank them on a scale from 1 to 5 with 5 being the contacts perceived to be of the greatest value to you. Make a detailed relationship plan for each of your contacts that rank 3 or higher. Take a personal interest in rekindling those relationships and finding out how you can help them succeed.

Bottom line…Engineer your plan and work the plan. Before you whine about how much time this will take think about the potential rewards at stake and ask yourself if you can afford not to do this.

Is It Worth It?

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

In my last post I wrote about the characteristics of good process. In reviewing yesterday’s text it dawned on me that I didn’t touch strongly enough on the single biggest factor involved in creating bad process, which is process for the sake of process. While the Nike slogan “Just Do It” has become part of our pop culture, it may not always constitute the most sound business practice. Don’t get me wrong, I have always believed that a strong bias toward action is an essential quality to be possessed by leaders. That being said, it’s just that taking action solely for the sake of action may create more problems than it solves.

I think Peter Drucker said it best when he stated that there’s “surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.” If I had a nickel for every time I’ve witnessed a company spend countless time, energy and money improving the wrong processes I’d have a whole lot more nickels…The simple truth is that in a significant number of instances even the most dramatic level of process improvement won’t create meaningful gains in performance. If a process improvement initiative doesn’t add value or create value then why improve the process?

The easiest method of determining whether a process is valuable is to focus on initiatives that positively impact core competencies, visibly affect customer relationships or separate you from the competition. It is a worthwhile exercise to take an annual inventory of all processes to determine which ones are barriers to productivity and which ones accelerate productivity. It would be my strongest suggestion that you put a damper on investments into processes that simply exist for tradition sake or because a process is an executive’s pet project. Bottom line…Don’t just do it, but rather do it because it’s worth doing…

Doing The Right Thing

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Do The Right Thing...Doing the right thing…seems like a basic principle that most people should follow doesn’t it? One of my favorite things to write about is the topic of leadership, and one of my favorite business theorists is Peter Drucker. Peter Drucker authored more than 35 books during his lifetime, and is considered by many to be the founding father on the study of management practices. In this blog post I will breakdown one of my favorite “Druckerisms” which states that: “managers do things right, while leaders do the right things.” At first glance this statement might not seem to be all that insightful, but I believe it is a very powerful observation that highlights the difference in philosophies between most managers and leaders.

Let me begin by stating that I take a lot of heat for pointing out the differences between leaders and managers. While they can be one in the same from a skill and talent perspective (managers can be leaders, and leaders can be managers), because they will typically have different functional responsibilities, this rarely ends-up being the case. Doing things right is a trait that causes many managers to be focused on security, which is often underpinned by fear based motivations. Doing things right will drive managers toward a position of being safe and politically correct in their approach to business. It is this fear based motivation that causes managers to protect turf as opposed to gain ground, to control as opposed to inspire, and to refine as opposed to create. Doing things right leads to comfort zone management that completely inhibits the ability to innovate.

By way of contrast Doing the right things is a trait that causes leaders to be guided by their instincts, principles, values and desire to achieve. Leaders motivated by doing the right things are not risk adverse, rarely politically correct, and they thrive on shaking things up. It is leaders ability to do the right things that innovate, motivate, create and inspire. Doing the right thing is often times controversial, but true leaders are not daunted by the thought of conflict, as are most managers. Leaders guided by doing the right thing are willing to step-up and make the big decisions that open markets, exploit opportunities, and drive innovation. If you’re not sure whether you are doing things right or doing the right things take yourself through the following personal assessment:

1. When was the last time you witnessed something that you didn’t agree with, but kept quiet on the issue to protect yourself rather than voicing your concern in order to protect the enterprise?

2. When was the last time you rocked the boat by design? Rocking the boat by default or by mistake doesn’t count.

3. When was the last time you drove innovation? Hint: purchasing a new software application is not innovation.

4. If a survey was taken of your peers and subordinates, would they refer to you as a leader who inspires, motivates and mentors, or a manager who exercises authority and control?

It is important to realize that everyone has fears. Ask anyone who has ever been in combat and they’ll tell you that it is being in touch with their innate sense of fear that kept them alive. However as important as it is to be aware of your fears, as a leader you cannot allow yourself to be ruled by them. Don’t “just do it”, rather just “do the right thing” and watch your successes multiply.

Why You Need A War Room

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

The modern war roomToday’s Myatt on Monday’s question was posed by a CEO who asked: “I’ve heard reference to executive teams that utilize ‘war rooms’ for strategy development. Is this beneficial?” Let me begin by stating that any tools or techniques that bring executive teams together for the purposes of consistent and focused strategy development and refinement are marvelous things. Furthermore, any company that I have run has had at least one war room for the executive team, and often times war rooms have been assigned to each business unit or department. In today’s post I’ll cover the benefits associated with war rooms, or what I like to refer to as the place where good things happen…

Are your meeting areas, conference facilities and board rooms used? Perhaps more to the point, are they used effectively? When I see a conference room that looks as if the main purpose for its existence is to serve as a corporate art museum, I tend to question why it exists at all. I recently spent two days on site with a new client. The client had an exquisite headquarters facility with a number of absolutely gorgeous conference rooms. However during my two days on site, not once did I observe any of them being utilized. When I asked the CEO about this he said “nobody uses them.” Hmmmm…..

Let’s start with the basics…As wonderful as technology is, and as small as our global footprint has become, as a workforce we are really more disconnected (at least personally) than at any point in history. Even workers who office in the same location are so busy being busy, and virtually collaborating, that they often don’t spend enough focused time with one another working on key issues. Rather than sequestering your talent behind the closed doors of their individual offices, or spreading them hither and yon in cube farms, consider the benefits of bringing them together (face-to-face) for the purposes of accomplishing something specific. 

Executive teams don’t come together often enough, and when they do, meetings are often not as productive as they should be as they try and cover far too much ground in short periods of time. I’m always amazed when I witness companies that will take all the C-suite talent into a boardroom for an hour or two and accomplish virtually nothing. Likewise, project teams and work groups have become creatures of habit who prefer to use internet or software based toolsets as a substitute for the power of highly focused and very intense personal interactions. As noted above, it is after all much easier and safer to be disengaged, but is it more productive? In most cases, I think not…

At first blush, one might think that the concept of a war room is bit of a throw-back to some Orwellian form of old school management theory, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, studies have shown that while workers may initially resist the idea of working in close quarters for the purpose of increasing intensity over extended periods of time, the benefits of collaboration and productivity quickly win them over. By way of example, the University of Michigan produced a study on war rooms only to find that workers functioning in a war room environment were twice as productive as their counterparts working in traditional office arrangements.

Where possible, I’m a firm believer that workgroups should spend as much time as possible in war room environments. I would take this so far as to suggest that one should consider this to be the best form of collaborative workspace configuration and should therefore make this the default space plan of choice if possible. With regard to executive teams, you will rarely find executives that will subject themselves to a co-officing arrangement, but this does not obviate the need for a war room. As stated earlier, executive teams do not spend nearly enough focused time together, and simply committing to one half-day per week cloistered in a war room together will improve both efficiency and productivity. Following are a few points of consideration when building your executive war room:

  1. Your war room should be a dedicated conference room with a locked door. You will keep a great deal of confidential information out in the open and you’ll want the room secured.
  2. Without sounding cultish, the war room needs to become revered as your company’s executive bastion for disruptive innovation where you major in the majors. Do not allow attendees to be interrupted while sessions are in progress. This is highest and best use time which should be protected at all costs.
  3. The war room should be configured for optimum productivity with acrylic walls (or multiple white boards), easels, wireless internet access, a high quality conference phone, multiple large wall mounted plasma screens, webcams, laser pointers, etc.

The bottom line is this…If you commit to giving war rooms a chance you’ll find that productivity will soar and that your executives will begin to embrace the concept because things that were once normally carried forward from meeting to meeting as rollover agenda items are now consistently being crossed off the list.