I often facilitate workshops on internal communication planning. That's why I like the advice in The Little Blue Book of Marketing (subtitle: Build A Killer Plan in Less Than A Day) by Paul Kurnit and Steve Lance.
I agree with the authors’ premise—planning works best as a collaborative process. And The Little Blue Book does contain many tips, including how to stimulate participants’ thinking before and during a planning session. The authors suggest three different ways to do so:
Thought-Starters. Questions you pose to participants ahead of time to “get in a good mind-set for the meeting.” Examples include: What’s the most indispensable technological device in your life, and why? What’s the most successful advertising campaign you can think of? What was the biggest innovation in your product category in the past five years?
Warm-ups. Exercises “to get the creative juices flowing.” Warm-ups are “relevant to the task at hand, yet removed enough so there’s no right or wrong response.” Examples include: Who is your favorite superhero and why? If you were stranded on a desert island, what are the three things you’d bring? Which three websites do you find most indispensiable?
Workouts. Facilitation sessions to move the plan forward, and relate directly to what you’re trying to accomplish. For marketing, these could include: What is the most impressive characteristics of a competitor that could apply to your brand? Develop the worst product idea you can imagine for your company, then flip it 180 degrees to make it a great idea.
Although these techniques are designed for marketing planning, they could easily be adapted to any planning session.
However, despite some helpful hints, The Little Blue Book was ultimately disappointing. There’s not much content here: It truly is a little book, with not much substance and too much repetition. And although the book is clever (catchy chapter titles and quotations), I would have appreciated less style and a lot more how-to substance.
Also, I’m puzzled: Why “Little Blue Book”? Made me think of the little red hen, but I’m not sure how she relates to marketing or planning.