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Recap of USAV’s Strategic Planning Meeting

Westminster, CO, August 7-9, 2019

Chris Salazar- Mangrum, Vice President of USAV

Meeting Objective: Determine strategies to increase the group’s value to peers and partners


Every summer, USAV invites their six member-elected Dealer Advisory Council (“DAC”) to Denver, CO for a strategic planning session. This is an annual face-to-face strategic planning meeting to review progress with USAV, discuss industry trends and collaborate on USAV’s strategic initiatives for the upcoming year. About three years ago, another USAV council comprised of Preferred Manufacturer Providers (“PMP”) were invited to further elevate the collaboration and provide insights from the distributors, manufacturers and service providers. Last year, executives from the PSA executive team joined the collaboration to unite forces with the newly acquired USAV division and help define strategies to increase the group’s value to peers and partners in the coming years. This year’s three-day meeting was packed with discussions around business trends, analytics, unique collaborative formats, value-creation and topped off with a little bit of fun. In his very first strategic session appearance, our Director of USAV, Patrick Whipkey, did not disappoint. He added thought-provoking insights, positive energy and memorable moments.

The first full day was dedicated to the DAC where we discussed industry trends and impacts to the businesses. We took a deep dive into the technology categories, overall market share and opportunities for creating value to the group. Among the hot topics were labor, AV over IP, unified communications and collaboration in the workspace, cross-selling, simple systems, POE licensing, new PMP opportunities to reflect technology shift, facilitation of special interest groups and peer exchange groups. To process these topics, USAV introduced a model developed to prioritize (“heatmap”) the opportunities based on value, cost, and level of effort to implement. The PSA executive team joined the conversation and shared the joint vision of integration between PSA and USAV and the opportunities it creates for the group. Conversations moved from conceptual ideas to actionable items and we received great feedback during the working session to go back to the lab and iterate on the model. There are a few opportunities we agreed as a group to allocate resources and create a plan for immediate implementation. Be on the lookout!

Day two was a jam-packed day with all decision-makers, DAC, USAV leadership, PSA executives and the PMP Council. Leveraging a framework of “Advice Process”, USAV and PSA presented to the combined group the joint vision of integration between PSA and USAV. This vision covered the functional integration, events, programs and benefits and business models. At the completion of PSA and USAV presenting the shared vision to the group, the executives hosted conversations to listen to the feedback and advice from the DAC and PMP Council. There was a lot of valuable information shared and new topics were created for USAV and PSA to evaluate and act upon. We then headed into a format, “What I Need From You” (WINFY). Special “thank you” to our facilitators, Travis Deatherage (Linx Multimedia) and Dirk Propfe (ET Group) who carried out this unique format and helped drive collaboration and communication to drill down to the top priorities from each of the diverse set of groups, USAV & PSA, distributors, manufacturers, and integrators. WINFY is a liberating structure meeting facilitation method where participants break into like-minded groups and share their requests from the other groups. Those requests are then shared by the team leaders in an open dialogue session to the other leaders. Teams then regroup and decide if they will “accept” or “reject” each group’s request. The WINFY format was a positive and impactful way for everyone’s collective requests to be heard and create real, actionable items from each group. The session was so well received that some participants are looking to take the format back to their individual organizations to prototype.

After a long day of hard work, it was time to blow off some steam at the O.A.R. concert at Red Rocks in Morrison, CO. Red Rocks (Twitter: @RedRocksCO) was declared the best outdoor venue in the United States (Pollstar) and a pleasant treat to some of our attendees who had never been to the venue. This was a memorable experience on various levels. Although Colorado weather is little unstable and we experienced a rain delay, it provided a relaxed atmosphere for everyone to foster new relationships and deepen existing ones. Once the showers passed, the beautiful Colorado venue exceeded all expectations and more fun commenced.

The final day was spent discussing technology and services within the industry and by our PMPs. We shared our data analytics platform to help shape the view of market share from the group and created a plan to further refine the data and provide great access for increased visibility. The goal of USAV is to provide our members access to the best technologies, services and products. The more information-sharing we do as a group as we did during this strategic planning meeting, will enable additional programs to be created to take USAV to the next level by providing the dominant technology integration platform. We continued to discuss how to increase the value of the group to members, then transitioned to our roadmap and strategic initiatives model, which was well-received by the PMPs. We now have greater detail as an output from our session to further refine that model. One key takeaway, which was unanimously agreed upon, was the addition of our channel marketing manager, Brittany Board (also named “The AV Industry’s Rising Stars: 40 CI Influencers Under 40 Class of 2019”) and is a tremendous asset for USAV, members and our manufacturers, distributors and services providers.

How do we take all of the information and feedback gathered from this meeting and deepen the engagements and increase value for the group? We will be reaching out to our members and setting up a video meeting to hear from them directly “What You Need from Us”. Lastly, I’d like to end with a note from the USAV DAC Chair, Travis Deatherage, who was instrumental in the agenda-design, facilitation, support and ambassador of value-creation:

“Thank you for your participation at the USAV DAC/PMP collaborative session Thursday morning. Participation, idea generation and feedback are just the first step in growing USAV and the value that USAV brings to all stakeholders. The real value is in the actions that are taken between meetings to make real change. This meeting re-energized awareness to issues and opportunities that have been discussed previously, surfaced new ideas and brought clarity to both. With this clarity, I urge you to define your personal action plan while the information is fresh.

  • What will you specifically do drive better outcomes in the next 30 days?
  • How will you drive deeper engagement in your organization?
  • How will you leverage the opportunities provided by USAV to bring value to your organization?

 In my opinion, our mission is clear. It is to create an engaged community of integrators and providers that drives better results for our organizations. We must drive growth in overall spend and leverage USAV income into programs that bring more value to our members. It’s a simple, but not an easy cycle. USAV is the hub of this circle, but it requires participation and action by all of us.

I look forward to hearing about the success stories and new opportunities at future gatherings.

–Travis Deatherage, Linx Multimedia