Advice and answers from the Rova Team

The difference between implementing the Rova Methodology for an organization and for a project is simply scope. We recommend this process for every new client engagement, as it ensures you are producing consistent, profitable opportunities for your agency directly aligned with your clients’ business goals.

The Plan session for a project is only half a day. You won’t go through all the categories and the time to deliver the final product is much quicker. The Lead from your agency will go through the relevant categories for the scope of that particular engagement. For example, the scope could be a Holiday Campaign, a new website, an employment brand, go-to-market strategy, lead generation campaign, etc.

Preparation:

Refer to the Materials List - Plan Session for a complete list of materials needed, as well as a sample email to send to clients. Or if you're doing our step-by-step guide, hold tight, we'll get there shortly.

Roles and Responsibilities:

Lead: The main facilitator of the session. At most consulting firms they are a Practice Lead. At agencies, they can be your VP of Strategy, Account Supervisor, etc. They are there to guide the discussion and get the client talking. 

Support: They support the Lead during the session by taking notes, listening for tactical opportunities, asking questions, etc. They need to keep the conversation going if the facilitator is in the middle of typing. This can be a member from your Account Service team (likely an Account Executive or an Account Manager).

Other Agency Team Members: We also encourage you to include a member(s) from your Creative team, Technology team and Project management team when facilitating strategic planning for a project. This Plan session is a more structured form of Discovery, so these other team members may benefit from hearing this information firsthand. They also have the opportunity to ask questions, as well. However, it is good to encourage them to reserve very tactical, in the weeds questions until a formal project kickoff, per your normal agency process.

Step-by-step guide:

  • The Lead will start introductions, name and roles at the respective organizations and then get started. If your main client contact has not shared the objectives/process/desired outcomes of this entire process with their team, take ten minutes to get everyone up to speed on why, what the Plan session will look like and a brief glimpse into the end product.
  • After introductions, it is time to begin. If you have not discussed a horizon date yet with the client, now is the time to do this. For the scope of a project, often times the horizon date is already defined. For example, launch date of a campaign, go live date for a website, etc. Once the horizon date has been chosen, it is time to get into the categories.

Note: This process is repetitive by design; therefore, you will follow the same process for all categories. Always start with Focus, followed by Dollars and Sense. These are the two categories that yield the most discussion because they are at the beginning of the day. You'll find many are eager just to put all their thoughts down on paper at once. These categories can take some time. Don’t be alarmed by this, as you will gain some ground in other categories.

  • Instruct everyone to turn to their first worksheet (templates available to download as a PDF here or in InDesign here) titled “Focus”. The facilitator reads the thought starters out loud (these are already on the worksheet, top of the page) and gives everyone 5-10 minutes to get their notes written down. The Lead and Support should fill out the worksheets as well.
  • Once the time is up, the Rova Lead asks for volunteers to go first. As the client begins talking, you start entering their thoughts into the document (on screen). Almost always, there will be statements that belong in other categories. The Lead can start to add them in the document as they go along.
  • The Lead will go around the room and give everyone a chance to speak their thoughts, while typing up the statements.
  • Once the Lead feels comfortable with the overall statement for that category, they invite everyone to look at the screen and then proceed to read it aloud for everyone.
  • You will get some feedback to tweak words, etc. and you can do that in the room. The objective is to get a general consensus they are comfortable with the statement. You will later go back and further tweak things as necessary.
  • Remember: These statements need to be measurable and objective. Avoid fluffy descriptor words or subjective statements such as “we are the best...”
  • After you have received verbal confirmation the room is satisfied with the statement/paragraph as is, it is time to move on to the next category.

Your time is limited with the client, so be sure to keep them focused on the scope of this particular project. It will be very easy to drift off into other conversations, but this is a great time to have the Support writing all of those comments down. This is a great opportunity to identify and make note of future work with your client!

Also, the number of categories will be limited as well to accommodate for the condensed Plan session. You can move around categories if it makes sense, too.

Read the room. If you sense they need a break, get up and move around. Give everyone a break.

Once your half day Plan session is complete, the Lead has a few days to refine the document. It is a best practice to go through the document again and make sure every statement is measurable. This will set you up for success for writing measurements.

Once you feel the document is in a good spot, send to the client for approval. This should be a relatively quick process as the client pretty much signed off on the statements during the sessions.

Next, find out what materials you'll need for a Plan session.

Or read more about facilitating a Plan session for an organization.

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