This session started out great, only to be derailed by AV problems, unfortunately (we seemed to have channeled Joseph Grenny's Master Series session, Influencer: The Power to Change Anything, through the sound system in our room. Couldn't hear our presenters over it, so they ended up cutting the sound altogether and ending the session early.).
What was really interesting was that the panelists—Camille Paluscio with Volkswagon of America; Kati Quigley with Microsoft; and Johnnie White, Jr., with the Cardiovascular Research Foundation—all came up with the same main points, even though their working environments were very different. A few of their main ones were:
Make sure you have an objective for the meeting, and that the objective is aligned with the objective of your organization...
More later; a line is starting to form behind me (thought I'd get more leeway since I'm skipping out on lunch to visit the cyber cafe, but it was short-lived).
OK, I'm back. Another way to be more strategic is to understand what's important to the head of your organization. What do your superiors need to show to their superiors? That's what you need to give them.
One surefire way to get noticed (in a good way): Increase revenue streams and prove savings. The latter means having measurable benchmarks to prove your savings against. "If you can't measure it, you probably shouldn't be doing it," said Quigley. She's a big believer in standardized metrics so you can measure apples to apples over time.
Have data to back up your ideas. If you don't have data, at least have contingency plans you can fall back on (but really try hard to get data to back up why your first choice is the best one).
Know the environment and politics of your organization. Get buy-in ahead of time from those who are in a position to help you show the value of what you and your department does.
Expect change to be an evolution, not a revolution. It'll take time to build trust, to get others to understand and appreciate what it is you do and what you bring to the table. Expect progress to be incremental. "When you make them look good to their superiors, you build trust," said Paluscio.
The session had to be cut short, but the room was packed and interest was really high. There was some talk of doing a follow up of some kind. If there is, I'll try to find out and provide a link to it here.