Case Study - Strategic Media Research

Client Situation.

A provider of research products to the radio industry, SMR had recently received its first outside investment, thus giving up a large portion of control to outsiders. Concurrently, a new CEO was hired to lead the company and its previous leader was asked to play a more limited role. Moreover, several of SMR's promising new business lines were falling shot of their potential.

Challenges.

  1. The key challenge was how to establish a new working environment given the recent changes.

  2. Throughout its history SMR had been run more on instinct than formal business practices. The success of the company had been largely anchored in the person and personality of its founder. As a result, many aspects of the company that would be critical to growth, including unclear roles and responsibilities across the organization, were informal or absent.

  3. The company had never undergone a true strategic planning process to address its path as a company, its future beyond the immediate and obvious, or the roles of its key managers in clarifying and delivering on its goals as a company.

Lighthouse Role.

Lighthouse was asked to lead a strategic retreat to begin to address the company's challenges. The assignment beyond that basic request was unclear and, due to budget and timeline constraints, Lighthouse was not able to meet in person any of the participants prior to the three-day retreat. This added to the apprehensions of the participants who, though they knew and worked with each other, had never met in such a forum prior to this retreat. As part of the plan, Lighthouse's efforts included the following:

  1. Conducted key interviews. Lighthouse interviewed employees (including all those participating in the retreat), the company's new investors and past and future management before designing the 3-day retreat. This allowed for the collection of hard data as well as development of a rapport and setting of some expectations in advance of the retreat itself.

  2. Set clear expectations and format for the retreat. Lighthouse reviewed with both existing and new management the expectations and concerns each had going into the retreat and designed the program to address each while still meeting the objectives of the retreat.

  3. Designed clear goals and a path to them. Lighthouse designed a clear set of goals and a detailed agenda for the retreat that allowed plenty of room for the unexpected. In addition, Lighthouse approached many of the most sensitive topics from unexpected and disarming perspectives in order to diffuse the retreat of undue tension.

  4. Based plan and program on experience and skill. Lighthouse led the retreat discussions, which leveraged Larry Robertson's skills as a trained facilitator and mediators.

Successes.

  1. By using various exercises and constructs at the start of the retreat, as well as incorporating plenty of humor and honest open discussion throughout, Lighthouse was able to quickly put the group at ease and develop a positive working environment. Time was spent in group activities as well as individually with the participants, gauging effectiveness and adjusting accordingly.

  2. The goals of the retreat were not only reached, but were also transitioned into clear, actionable steps and a decision-making framework for allowing the participants to continue their progress on their own when they returned to the office.

  3. The success of the retreat and the comfort of the participants with Lighthouse as a neutral party was significant enough that Lighthouse was asked to provide several follow-up mini-retreats on site at the company as well as to act as an ongoing advisor to its senior management team.

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