Strategy Meetings in a Virtual World

A new kind of meeting that revolutionizes the way you manage global teams

The Issue

A global IT company had just gone through a significant organizational change and was also in the process of reshaping its approach to the market. There had already been a large very expensive international kick off event but there was concern that there was a need for more regular quarterly and even monthly regional meetings to ensure effective execution and to stay on track. Budget restrictions meant that regular face-to-face meetings involving travel and accommodation expenses were out of the question. This was an issue that had concerned the company for some time. It was widely recognized that a recent product launch had not been as effective as it could have been because budgets were not available to enable regional sales and training meetings to support the campaign

The Challenges

How can they have the cost and logistical benefits of virtual meetings and still have the impact and energy of a face-to-face event?
So far in live virtual meetings they had been unable to generate the excitement and inspiration that comes from the kind of production values and staging that is put into typical face-to-face events
They had tried and sometimes still were doing the stereotypical webinar, but for this size of audience 40 – 60 people it was just one-way communication. There was none of the interactivity that would enable them to collaborate, solve problems and get real engagement from the participating managers.
They needed to have break out sessions during the meetings, they had tried this virtually in the past and it had proved to be clumsy and inefficient.
There was a need to occasionally involve the company’s senior subject matter experts and global executives in these meetings; this has always proved to be very difficult.

The Solution

Illustra has been unique in the way that it has brought together software engineers, instructional designers, expert coaches and high level production people to design new technologies, methodologies and approaches for live virtual training and coaching. It’s an innovative technology company as well as a training company. Now the experience gained from designing and delivering many thousands of hours of highly innovative interactive training has been turned towards the development of a completely new form of live virtual meeting.
Illustra ran an initial “proof of concept” for this customer with shared costs and risk. The event involved 56 people. It included:

  • 56 managers from all over the world, two senior executive, 3 internal subject matter experts and an Illustra expert coach
  • Participants were moved in and out of plenary and breakout sessions in the same way that they were accustomed to in traditional face-to-face events. Although this time the switching from one to the other took place in an instant, rather than taking from 5 to 15 minutes.
  • During both plenary and breakout sessions participants engaged in a variety of different interactive individual and team activities.
  • There were live video feeds from expert coaches, senior executives and senior subject matter experts from different parts of the world
  • One senior executive and one representative from a major partner organization were unable to make a live contributions, so their inputs came in the form of recorded video
  • Senior managers, coaches and subject matter experts were able to monitor participants inputs and activities in real time so they could gage levels of understanding, concerns and issues and respond with relevant feedback and inputs
  • Results from individual and team activities were instantly collated so they could be shared and discussed in both plenary and breakout sessions throughout the meeting.
  • All participating managers created action plans to impact specific KPI’s and objectives during the meeting that could be reviewed and discussed with their own directors and with coaches and subject matter experts during subsequent virtual meetings
  • The entire event which included video clips and animation was orchestrated and staged for maximum inspiration and engagement and a real feeling of excitement
  • The results and inputs from all of the activities were immediately available as a report that was distributed to all participants and senior management after the meeting.

The Results

Senior executives were very impressed by the level of engagement of everyone during the meeting. In particular they were impressed by the way that the entire global management community was able to work together on key issues and share best practices regarding the execution of the company’s new strategy.
It was felt that the coaching provided during the meeting focused managers on the kind of leadership that was required from them if they were to succeed in enabling their teams to execute the strategy
Some important innovations and resolutions to key issues emerged from the work that managers did on their own action plans during the virtual meeting. It has already been decided that these innovations should be widely adopted across the organisation
The company has decided to schedule quarterly meeting for this group of managers utilizing this format across the rest of the year. They are also exploring doing this kind of meeting with other groups of managers within the company. They are also moving ahead with utilizing this format for the design and delivery of one of their main management training programs

What Participants Say

Senior Manager - I was really surprised how good it was – my congratulations to the whole team. We got so much input from all the participants. I never thought I would say it but it may have been better than the face-to-face meetings. Thank you
“First experience of virtual meeting of this kind. I've been impressed by the technology.”
“I learned a lot from the session, also learned a lot from my peers during group discussions. It is indeed great workshop, hope it can be implemented across the market.”
“First time doing one of these courses and really like the idea of overcoming the location of everybody involved by splitting into teams and getting people engaged.”