By Brian Everett, ABC, Senior Partner, MindShare Strategies

Ever been part of a meeting that started with the promise of being non-productive but concluded with solid vision and high energy and productivity?

I had such an experience recently. I just returned from just such a meeting with the board of directors of the Transportation Marketing & Communications Association in Dallas/Fort Worth this week.

As we all assembled for the two-day meeting, we learned the unfortunate news that several board members needed to cancel their participation in the meeting. The intent of this meeting was to develop our strategy for 2014, but with less than half of our leadership team, how could we possibly make this meeting productive? In fact, we didn’t even have a quorum to make critical decisions.

Who was present? Marketing, sales, and communications professionals from various organizations with an interest in transportation and logistics. Enter Dino Moler and Jodi Cape of LeSaint Logistics, Andy Williams of M33 Integrated Solutions, Beth Carroll of Prosperio Group, Candi Cybator of Pitt Ohio, Kecia Gray of Transplace, and Ben Scott of FedEx Custom Critical.

Enter the innovative, resourceful , and out-of-the-box thinking rallied by this small group of leaders. None of us were going to allow this meeting to be pointless. So what did we need to turn this meeting around? Here are the four key steps that made it happen:

Get creative and Be Flexible. While we entered this meeting with a certain agenda defined, we were willing to bend and create a new approach that accommodated our new situation. Sometimes you just need to take a different approach, go with the flow, and adjust to get a positive outcome.
Tap Into Each Others’ Strengths. Each board member jumped into lead discussions and sessions. During one part of the meeting that seemed to stall due to lack of direction or leadership, Beth Carroll dazzled us with her facilitation skills and helped us to get the dialogue refocused.
Participate! Participate! Participate! There was no shortage of ideas, no unwillingness to be part of the process. In fact, everyone intently listened to each other and contributed heavily into the planning activities.
Ensure Everyone Enters the Process With Common Expectations. It’s important that everyone fully and clearly understands our ultimate goal. For example, Dino Moler, TMSA’s current President, led a goal-setting session. He was specific in his marching orders: We MUST establish SMART goals (specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, and time-based).
Stay Energized. If your group is facing potential failure due to factors against success, stay positive and supportive of each other. This group remained energized in everything we did for these two days.
It was a highly productive meeting. Our small group of leaders left Dallas this week with clear marching orders and buy-in on how to make TMSA successful this next year. So look for some great things from this community of logistics marketing professionals in 2014!