"The main reasons we initially
decided to use the Meeting Productivity Process for our
National Sales Meeting were that we were interested in researching
and measuring our attendees' pre-conference morale levels
and learning more about their training needs and the general
issues that were affecting the group. Our plan was to use
that information to determine the direction and theme of
the meeting, and we wanted to measure the impact that the
conference experience had on our people.
"We believe our conference attendees
are customers of the conference experience, and we try to
identify and satisfy their needs as much as possible.
"The production company proposed
what appeared to be a very good system, the MPP. It had
some different elements. The convenience of the 800# tele-survey
gave our people the ability to call in 24 hours a day, and
the information was collected electronically, so it could
be done quickly. Also the special meeting measures and research
techniques and the amount of ways you can turn the information
were very attractive. The reports gave us a lot of opportunities
to look at different facets of the information.
"We received value from the process in a number of
ways. One is that we were able to confirm our thoughts about
the levels of people's feelings in the field. We wanted
to know what the morale level was, what people were feeling
about their job, the company, the marketplace, that sort
of thing. The research pointed out, in some cases, some
issues that were a bit hotter than we thought and gave us
the opportunity to address those things in the meeting.
"You can sit here at headquarters and say 'I think
I know what they really want or what they're like or what
the issues are out there, but if you don't go out and confirm
that you do know, you could run into a problem'. I think
the confirmation of our feelings and impressions and what
we thought was our knowledge of what was going on was very
important. The MPP gave us an idea of which issues were
the major issues from the attendees' point of view, which
ones were really hot and which ones were not.
"The second thing was learning
about the levels of training, or levels of sophistication,
people were at so that we could say that there is a large
group of people who had a very elementary level of education
or knowledge of our business or products and services, and
that there's another group that is more sophisticated. That
helped us gear the workshops and the other things that we
did for particular groups of attendees.
"Third, it helped us figure out what the theme and
direction of the meeting ought to be. Having the information
gave us a better definition of people's needs and expectations
for the meeting.
"And fourth was the measurement
of the impact that all our work, prior to the conference
and at the conference, had on the attendees.
"Another important value we see
in using the process is as a measure of return on our investment
in the National Conference. With the MPP, we know with
certainty that the conference will be focused on satisfying
the key needs of our 'customers'. It ensures we get maximum
impact for our investment.
"For the most part, the meetings
achieved the objectives we set out for them. We started
out with three objectives. One was reward and recognition
and I think we met that objective.
"Another objective was educational.
The process was really helpful in terms of determining the
content of the workshops, the types of products and services
we needed to address and on which to further educate our
"Our third objective was the social
atmosphere. The process helped us figure out the theme of
the meeting and how much social activity people needed and
whether it should be more of a pure team building experience
or more of a pure social event.
"I think the real value of using the MPP in both years
was that after looking at the first year's post-meeting
survey findings, we could see whether or not we moved the
needle in certain areas, and the data gave us a benchmark
to use as a gauge for the next year's meeting.
"When we looked from year one to
year two, we saw what the levels were after the year one
meeting and what the levels were pre-conference in year
two. We had an idea what business issues impacted those
levels, so when we went to the field to survey pre-conference
in year two and asked the field, 'what are your issues?'.
Again the process confirmed some of the things we knew,
and it really told us a couple of other things too in terms
of the depth of people's feelings. It gave us a clear picture
of where people were at.
"Post-conference, the MPP tells
us what we did right and what we did wrong in the meeting
and what people will look for in the next meeting - that's
very important information.
"I would definitely recommend the
process. I think that anybody who goes into a meeting like
this and doesn't do a pre-conference survey to either confirm
or identify issues and a post-conference survey to see whether
or not what you did really had an impact on people and was
effective, I think you're kind of wasting your time - you're
flying somewhat blind.
"We absolutely would use the process
again. We used it in year one and we were very happy with
it. We used it again in year two and we were just as happy
with it. And I look forward, quite frankly, to the possibility
of using it again."