Fall Integrators Meeting Recap


Twice a year USAV meets with its Integration Service Group members to discuss trending topics, collaborate and expand relationships through networking. It is a day and a half with peers who have become friends over the years, building relationships and working on real business issues. This year’s annual Fall integrators meeting was held at The Hotel at Avalon in Alpharetta, GA, and was co-located with Almo’s E4. The event had a mixture of structured discussion and open discussion interwoven with Almo’s E4 exercises.  Brent Lowe facilitated our journey by exploring ways to improve our businesses and addressing topics identified through surveys such as recruiting, hiring, and retaining talent while building a culture that a company can be proud of. In the open discussions, we took a dive into the industry trends such as managed services, cybersecurity and more. Overall, the event hit the mark for collaboration, relationship-building and learning.

The Event

The event began with an informal meet-up in the lobby restaurant which was perfectly situated right next to the main entrance.  People were greeted by a welcoming committee of old friends, new faces and long-standing USAV partners to gather and catch up on a personal and business level.

On Monday morning, Chris Salazar-Mangrum and Brent Lowe set the stage for the day: Brent went into detail on the various ways everyone would be interacting with each other and leaned on “liberating structures” to cultivate conversations. Liberating Structures introduce tiny shifts in the way you meet, plan, decide and relate to one another. Not only did it help with the conversations at the meeting, but it also gave members ideas on how to facilitate meetings within their own organizations.

Making Space with TRIZ was the next activity and a favorite of the staff.  This exercise helped integrators identify challenges they face and look at worst case scenario results, rather than the best case scenario. This twist set the tone of collaboration amongst the teams.  They were then asked to go through the items on their lists and ask themselves if they were experiencing any of these scenarios.  Lastly, they went through as teams to decide what first steps will help to stop what they know creates these undesirable results.

The next activity the group took on was World Café. The process began with the first of three twenty-minute rounds of conversations for the small group seated around the table  and continued to focus on talent, culture and hiring.  The integrators gained valuable insights from one another and realized they face similar challenges, and can share best practices.

The last activity of the morning, What, So, Now What?, made the group prioritize next steps for facing these challenges and how to find solutions.

After lunch, Brent lead the group through anactivity called Ecocycle Planning.  Brent invited the group to look at the AV industry through the lens of creative destruction and renewal in addition to the typical themes of growth and efficiency to determine where the industry goes next.

Using this diagram, Brent asked everyone to make a list of all the activities (projects, initiatives, etc.) that occupy their time and place them on the Ecocycle map.  The group noted a large amount of overlap in their activities.

Next, Troika Consulting lead quick, round-robin “consultations,” where the group gave  peer-to-peer coaching that helped uncover everyday solutions, revealing patterns and refining prototypes.

The final activity,  25/10 Crowd Sourcing, was a fun, fast and casual, yet serious and valid, way to generate uncensored sets of bold ideas and then tap the wisdom of the whole group to identify the top ten bold ideas.  Brent asked everyone, “If you were ten times bolder, what big idea would you recommend?  What first step would you take to get started?”

The day of education ended with reflections of the day.  Many did not realize how similar their challenges are and were relieved to realize they can collaborate going forward for solutions.

Monday night was spent with Almo at a Casino Royale event. It was a fantastic evening with food, drinks, friends and even karaoke!.

On Tuesday morning, attendees had the option of going to see Gary Kayye’s keynote at the E4 event or staying with the USAV meeting for a framework called Open Space. Some attendees have used Open Space in the past while it was a new concept for others.  The group identified 12 topics of conversation to address and each one had a leader and a note taker. The attendees picked which conversation they wanted to join and could even sit in on multiple if they so desired.

We wrapped up Tuesday morning with a USAV business review to give everyone insight as to what has been going on behind the scenes at USAV and PSA. Once the review was over, it was time for lunch and the Almo E4 show floor. Almo did a great job showcasing its brands and even had a special guest for pictures. Anthony Jerome “Spud” Webb is a retired NBA point guard who is known for winning a Slam Dunk Contest despite being one of the shortest players in NBA history.

The Wrap Up

Our integrators walked away from the event with a great amount of networking and learning that can positively impact their organizations. Brent Lowe did a fantastic job captivating the audience, all while sharing his knowledge on the various Liberating Structures. Everyone had something new to bring back to their organizations and a deeper connection with in the USAV network.