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OU INC Collaboratory hosts planning meetings

Thursday, July 10, 2008
OU INC Collaboratory hosts planning meetings
The Collaboratory assists local businesses using high-tech decision making software that allows each individual to express their ideas, and helps rank choices and make decisions based on consensus among the group.

This June, the Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce’s (RRCC) board of directors gathered for its annual strategic planning session at Oakland University’s SmartZone Business Incubator (OU INC).

The Collaboratory assists local businesses using high-tech decision making software that allows each individual to express their ideas, and helps rank choices and make decisions based on consensus among the group. An OU INC facilitator keeps the meeting on track.

“It was just a fabulous experience,” said Linda Davis-Kirksey, chair of the board for the RRCC. “We have representation on our board from small and large businesses, and people were just wowed by the use of the technology.”

Kirksey said three new board members have joined since the Chamber, so the meeting was a good opportunity to review the organization’s mission statement.

“Someone raised a question about the mission statement, and then everyone got an opportunity to wordsmith it,” said Davis-Kirksey. “We ranked the ideas we liked best, and we were able to capture everyone’s thoughts and ideas.”

There are currently 16 stations, and OU INC will be adding six in late July.
Overall, feedback from meeting attendees was positive.

“It was a more productive meeting,” said Sheri Heiney, executive director, RRCC. “I really believe that facilitated strategic planning is the way to operate. Everyone needs to feel their ideas are important. The collaboratory really helps with that. People walked away feeling they had a voice.”

Other local organizations, including Rochester Hills City Council and Rochester Community Schools, have held meetings at the collaboratory. There are currently 16 stations, and OU INC will be adding six in late July. In addition, OU INC has the capability to connect up to fifty stations via the Internet, so attendees can join from any location where they have Internet access.

Erin Strang, assistant director, business innovation for OU INC has been running sessions using an environment like the collaborator for more than five years and says that every session that she has delivered has been well received by all businesses and attendees.

“Boards of Directors or executive teams will attend a session to help them determine their direction moving forward,” said Strang. “Through the collaboratory, we can build group consensus and create a shared vision. It provides a way for everyone to contribute and feel like they’re part of the decision.”

OU INC, in cooperation with the City of Rochester Hills and Oakland County, is one of twelve SmartZone members working in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to develop a statewide network of university-supported technology parks. For more information, visit the visit the OU INC web site or call (248) 648-4800.