How would you run a CEO roundtable?
I've been asked to run a CEO roundtable and curious what others would recommend for the format. I ran one session so far where I just asked for feedback. Some people recommended doing short introductions along with a current need or challenge and then breaking up into networking so people can have separate conversations. Others recommended having one or a few people pose a current issue and the entire group discuss it. Has anyone had any experience with these groups and what have you seen produce the most value? Thanks for your thoughts.
It's been 2 years since this post. I was wondering if the roundtable is still going on. If it is, how's it going? If not, what happened?
I'm thinking about starting one myself and would love your insight.
What's the objective of this CEO roundtable?
Is it to help your organization develop an in-depth understanding of market conditions while building a strong bond of trust and loyalty with key client executives (CEOs) that will lead to increased opportunities?
Identify a moderator
• Design the CEO roundtable session to address the challenges, identify future plans/ solutions
• Guide the participant selection process
• Produce an effective agenda and discussion topics when you invite your participants
• Act as an extension to your staff during the entire CEO roundtable preparation process
• Carry out customer interviews and pre-meeting customer surveys to finalize the challenges that you will discuss
• Help the meeting to achieve success
• Produce a "Plan or Record" report to document the meeting, including action items and possible schedule the follow-up roundtable conference
Generally these types of forums are built around an issues or industry focus. That should be your foundation. Why these people / Why Now / Why Listen are all questions that you can use to build a framework.
Either this group of Executives have come together for a common reason or association as well as the audience has assembled because there is some common reason or interest in hearing what these people have to say.
I would start with a theme or issue for the roundtable that ties into the 3 questions above. Most Executives I know want/need to have a clear understanding of what they will be asked to address or speak to during the roundtable beyond just being Executives. Market issues, Competition or shift in the Competitive Landscape, Changes in Regulations, New Market Opportunities, Talent (Attraction, Acquisition, Development, Retention, Re-assignment), Etc. all make for a solid foundation.
Don’t go too wide, but look for depth. You could begin with a foundation questions you would like teach panelist to address in an opening statement then open it up for questions from the audience (or even challenges within the panel). Have several other questions in the event the discussion dies. More likely your problem will be to stay on track and focused vs. chasing rabbits down a hole.
Just some core thoughts. Let me know if you would like to discuss this deeper.
Remember that everyone there has their own agendas. If possible find out what the participants would like to see in the session and take that into account.
8 to 12 executives from different verticals or industries so there is no compassion amongst the members. This ensure discussion and frank answers to problems and questions.
One year contract.
Meet one day for 4 hours once a month. I host the first event, then the members host the remaining 11 however/wherever they wish.
Structured content for the first 2 hours or so, then open discussion for the remaining 2. The first session includes goal setting and then during the remaining sessions we monitor the results and progress.
Depends on what you are trying to achieve. I have run many CEO Roundtables and my intention is that they exchange useful information and have a lively valuable discussion. Thus I limit the number to around 12-14 (any more and it is difficult for the group to have a discussion and hear each other). If you want more than you need to break up into smaller groups, where you lose control of moderating the conversation. My Roundtables are either industry focused (everyone from the same industry), have an invited guest that people want to hear from, outcome oriented (bring an impossible problem and we will solve it that night), or subject oriented (impact of ACA on companies).
For the industry focussed I have everyone introduce themselves as: Name, Company, brief outline of what company does, what would you like the group to talk about tonight (NOT what are you worried about, keeps you up at night - too personal for a group that doesn't know each other yet). Then I say something like "It sounds like a number of people would like to talk about X. Who would like to comment?" And then I get out of the way. I have found that CEOs with common interests (industry, problem, etc.) have no difficulty discussing. I moderate with a light touch (making sure people don't interrupt or talk over each other, make sure everyone gets a chance to talk, and moving the conversation on if it bogs down).
With a presenter, I avoid a formal presentation (which supresses discussion), but rather may ask for a 5-min summary of their wisdom and then (unless a CEO wants to) I ask a question and get the discussion going.
WIth a larger group, I may pose a question (either one of known common interest or from the introductions) and then ask them to break up into groups of 5-6. However, such groupings tend to have a life of 20-30 min max before something needs to change (the question or the groupings).
If you have more questions, feel free to ask: Ivan Rosenberg, firstname.lastname@example.org.
I use short meetings, covering action, control activities.
In case of exploration of new issues I use:
brainwriting, then NGT, then ISM, etc.
Mary-Alice I do run a mastermind and have several thoughts. In my group we allocate a set portion of time to each participant (I will not exceed 8-10 in a group). In their time slot the individual can present a challenge or a win, their choice. The group then serves as a mini Board of Directors discussing resolution, opportunity and the like as the topic dictates.
Either one is appropriate from my experience, however, depending on the personalities and the communicating styles you may wish to identify who a common ground to promote trust and then move on to similar groups...I would go from the Broad topic to the specifics and get a sense of who is strongest and try to have them communicate honestly without believing any trade secrets are at risk...
Have it set up as a Mastermind Group. Make it a Collaborative Space and not a Competitive Space. At the end of every session, you will want to ask the group to think of the next topic for Discussion, this way you have a direction with the meeting rather than just an open free for all. You will also be able to keep it focused on what people want to hear which will allow for a Higher retention of those individuals as well as create momentum. People will then talk about the forum and invite others to join which just enhances the Networking/Resources opportunity. Hope this helps.
If your running a weekly or bi-weekly CEO meeting it is important to have one or two heads who will lead the conversations and discuss all the underlying issues with the rest of the group. It is not as important to be sure everyone is happy coming out of the meeting as it is to be sure Problems have been Addressed and Solutions have been provided.
Hi Mary Alice,
Yes, I have and the focus and process for me would be shaped by how many CEO's (people) in the roundtable meeting, how much time we had, the mix of the participants, and what my/our purpose or goals for the meeting are.
Once I have an idea of these elements it is easier to develop a mindful approach to accomplish the purpose and goals for the meeting.
Hi Mary-Alice - As a retired CEO, I have bee involved with both methods you describe and found both to be effective.
I have done many of these and like any show it depends on the actors, the plot and the audience. In general, CEOs like to talk about what they do and what they know. How good a listener and questioner you are is like how well a play is directed. Where is the focus, where is the emphasis. I do not cede control to the audience for networking or private sessions but rather put that in before and/or after the panel. I would ask a couple of questions in advance to your panel, the classics: What are you most worried about in the next 12 months? What has been your best surprise in running your company? How do make your dreams for your company a plan? How do you get your company engaged and enthused? You know the drill, there are dozens of these. Do your interview in advance, look for themes, know who has something interesting to say on the topic and lead the actors assertively and respectfully and when you can add in an audience reaction or question make it look like spontaneous conversation but know the beginning middle and end in advance.
What's the frequency of this round table? If it is a recurring thing, I'd suggest brief intros the first time and open up the floor with a problem/concern/issue in your company. In that discussion, hopefully, the other participants will chime in with problems/concerns/issues of their own. The size of the round table factors into your choices to operate it as well. The larger it is the better your idea for breakouts or networking time is. If you you've been asked to lead it, then the organizer or organizing group thinks very highly of you. I suspect it's because your a great leader and understand the feedback process, which means, you just need to get the ball rolling and let the feedback roll in to customize this experience in a way that is highly beneficial for the whole group. Good luck!
Is there a theme or stated objective for this activity? If there is, you can center discussion around that theme or objectives. I personally like to find out what are the most pressing issues or concerns of the CEOs, and focus in on a few common themes as points for discission.
As others have said, there needs to be a reason for doing it.
Analyse your goals and then make sure you have plenty of questions to generate discussion.
Once you have a topic (what is the topic?) ask the participants what they would like to discuss within it – what are their burning issues?
Include their feedback in the questions – you shouldn't need more than about 10 for a 90 minute loose discussion, or 5/6 for a panel session you might have at a conference before opening up to the floor.
Make sure you have some additional questions and don't just ask everyone the same question to everyone. Allow everyone to answer, but keep it dynamic.
There is plenty more, but start and finish on time. Do it before a break so people can approach the participants after. Always leaving them wanting more.
The best thing to do is to get an experienced chair to run it for you if you can't do it yourself, but as I am not based in Boston, it's a bit of a stretch. I could put you in touch with someone very good based in NY, mind.
It sounds like you have stumbled upon an excellent gig. Enjoy!
These are a few points here which I hope you find useful. (The product of several decades working with senior peeps who are time-poor, successful, ambitious and spend most of their time paranoid that they are doing the right thing leading their organisations.
What I would start with is define the Purpose of the group. Why has it been formed? What would make it fabulously successful? Where do you see it in (say) 2 to 3 years.
By doing so you will clarify the reason why it exists. This will lead you effortlessly into the second set of questions...**
What would you and the participants like the outcomes to be? When each meeting has finished how would you define if it had been successful?
I would suspect that the outcomes will be the following:
The participants table their challenges and have great minds help them think through what they would do if they were in the 'challenger holder's shoes'
They find creative and proven ways to take both themselves and their organisations forward
They form strong friendships with their fellow participants
They spread the word to bring other participants to the table
So Mary-Alice this would bring you to the Processes you can deploy to make it all happen. For me it is repeatable combination looking something like this.
What's on people's minds - post on a flipchart as people arrive their top 1,2 or 3 challenges
Informal round table discussion - what's going on in people's lives
Guest speaker - a genuine expert on a subject that everyone can relate to
Peer Review - a structured problem solving process where one person tables their challenge and each colleague acts as a consultant.
In the late 90s I pioneered a process in Rolls-Royce called the 'Peer Review' - it is the BEST 'change tool' I have ever invented. Now 15 years on Peer Reviews are standard practice in this iconic business employing over 33,000 people.
For you Mary-Alice and indeed all other visitors to this thread I would be more than happy to share the process. It is spectacularly simple but always delivers. For example the last time I used in Rolls-Royce it solved a problem in 4.5 hours that has eluded their best minds for 6 months!
Happy to share with you or anyone interested.
Please e-mail : simon @ bozeatconsulting.co.uk
Post 'Peer Review Mosaic' in the subject bar
I look forward to hearing from you
it is te mixture of people on this round table and what you want to create with this mixture of interests, money, sorrow etc. and maybe you also should invite a non-ceo or a superstar
Divide round table session into four or five phases:
1)Motivation and CEO research about topic (this session provide the member into relaxation mode and then they able explain their experience)
2)In this session allow to member for speak.
3) In this session CEO should covered the whole story in a nutshell.
4)This session again motivational with future image.