2022 is Happening — Plan on it

With festive talk about holiday supply-chain issues reminding us of another turn in the calendar — it’s time to start planning for next year.

To do our part, Mixing Board is launching a 2022 planning product.

After the chaos, resets, reflections and, ideally, reimagining we’ve all gone through, this feels like a unique moment to craft well-considered communications and brand programs that intertwine with what’s happening in the world.

Done right, this work will align employees and create better connections to customers and investors that clearly and actionably represent where you want to go next.

Done wrong, an approach that has lots of energy but little follow-through creates skepticism about the value of putting in time for strategic thinking.

Our 2022 Planning Workshop gets you on the right path. It provides perspective, ideas and facilitation from two complementary Mixing Board members who would otherwise be impossible to get in the same room. Our support includes up-front homework, a two-hour workshop and a recommendations memo that suggests next steps.

If you want support from Mixing Board’s community of 125+ top comms and brand experts, reach out and let us know what you want to accomplish in 2022. Our members are current and former VPs of comms, CMOs, heads of policy, community builders, content leaders, brand strategists and beyond — for some of the most interesting and dynamic organizations out there. They have been in your shoes. They know what it’s like to balance competing day-to-day demands and can quickly assess a situation and help chart a path forward.

Running Your Own Workshop

Since we can only do so many workshops, we’re happy to share methods for approaching annual planning here — starting with what you need before getting in the room:

Invite well: Make sure that the attendees have the ability and the authority to make the ideas come to life.

Ensure focus: There should be no outside distractions and participants need to agree to this upfront.

Come in fresh: An enemy of a brainstorm is the “we tried that before” voice in the room. Forget about what you have done or tried. It’s a different time now, and (hopefully) any good idea now has the potential to be backed by a coordinated, organization-wide strategy.

Do your homework: Walk into the room with three short questions answered by every participant so you can start the session with momentum. For example:

  • At the end of 2022, an ideal scenario would be which three Twitter accounts tweeting what about your company? (Bonus: Put all the tweets up on the wall of the meeting conference room — or share them at the start of your Zoom).
  • What’s the biggest thing that has changed about our opportunity since the beginning of the pandemic?
  • My favorite idea that we have yet to execute on is…

Once you are in the brainstorm, organize the conversation with a structure of inquiries and explorations that looks something like:

Perspective: A conversation opener about What Has Changed during the pandemic and what it foretells for the near future. Use the homework question to probe for alignment and shared perspectives to discuss/debate.

Future casting: Where do we want to be by the end of 2022? Using the Twitter homework as an example: read the tweets and discuss what they collectively mean and what’s attainable. Begin to define what needs to happen to get there.

  • What has to happen from a business perspective?
  • What teams need to contribute to the success?
  • Think about the Twitter accounts that you aspire to affect. What misconceptions do they have about you now? What could you do to change this?

Ideating and storytelling: Brainstorm ways to proactively bring your ideal 2022 to life. Raise the ideas that have yet to see the light that were shared in the pre-work.

  • Storyboard your 2022 by literally creating a simple story around your year that includes characters (enemies, allies, desired audiences, those Twitter accounts, etc.), plot, conflict, and resolution.
  • Turn this story into a campaign or program that thematically organizes your creative ideas and connects them back to your planned milestones.
  • Discuss how to integrate your day-to-day efforts into this work instead of treating what you do proactively as a separate nice-to-have.

Before you leave the room, assign owners, establish preliminary timelines and discuss metrics to define success.

What’s a good metric? This could vary greatly depending on the effort. One that we often suggest is a Proactivity Quotient — that is, how much did you shift your work in a given period from reactive activities to proactive ones that would have otherwise not existed without you envisioning and then acting on an idea. Try to first get to 50/50 and then go beyond. It’s harder than it sounds, but success here pays off dramatically.

Working with Mixing Board

Mixing Board members enjoy digging into interesting and complex situations with each other and those with a desire to go beyond the rinse-and-repeat PR and marketing playbooks.

We look to partner with those entering an inflection point that mindfully want to get the most out of the moment and beyond. For some, simply having smart, creative people assess their opportunity and provide ideas for next steps in a workshop is useful. Others may want to build or rethink their story and explore the best way to tell it to their most important audiences via a sprint with three of our members. And, for those who need to bring top senior talent into their business, we provide community-sourced talent searches. Once a workshop, sprint or talent search is completed, this unlocks the ability to gain greater access to the community in a multitude of ways.

Intrigued? Have other ideas for us or this process? Feel free to reach out.

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