Planning a Milestone Anniversary in Under a Year? Three Foundational Items to Set You Up for Success.

Anniversary planning takes time. Most large companies begin planning for a significant milestone 1-2 years prior to the launch date. There’s so much to think about, even at a high level- the purpose of the celebration, the main audience, main tentpole activations, among other things. But what happens when you don’t have a couple years? What happens when you have 8 months and no solidified direction? Laying some key groundwork can help establish boundary conditions to accelerate your planning into execution.

Determine the Primary Audience

An anniversary can be focused on many different audiences– customers, partners, employees, retirees– and focusing on all can feel like you’re trying to boil the ocean. One of the main reasons we had so little time in the planning process was due to some starts and stops in deciding on our key audience. Our early efforts were on how to make this meaningful to our end customers. The ideas were difficult to execute and costly for the size of audience we were trying to reach. Once we determined our 110,000 employees were our primary audience, we were able to better identify how to make decisions and our boundary conditions.

Establish your Review Committee

Determining the best leaders to make decisions affecting your audience is key to having a successful implementation. Make sure this group is diverse and can represent the different populations. In the case of Intel, we relied on our Executive VP of Sales and Marketing, the head of our Corporate Services, our Chief People Office, Chief Strategy Officer, Chief Technology Officer, Manufacturing SVP and the CEO’s Chief of Staff. Each of these individuals promised to be engaged, responsive and representative of their specialty and their respective audience. Additionally, they were diverse in gender, race and had a global view which was core to delivering to our diverse audience.

Enact your Guiding Principals

Anniversaries can take any and all forms. Your guiding principles establish a litmus test to filter the ideas that come at you during the implementation process. Intel’s guiding principles were:

  1. Egalitarian- with 110 sites in 30 countries, with a subset of software, manufacturing and product engineers and business functions, we wanted everyone to have a comparable experience, regardless of what level or group they worked in.
  2. Memorable- celebrate doing wonderful in the world and innovation while also reflecting on our history and the excitement of the future ahead.
  3. Cost effective—we wanted to be sure to stay within the budget parameters that we had established from the beginning.

Guiding principles help to manage scope, provide tests to disposition ideas quickly and are tools to help with influential people who may being putting their own personal interests first.

By establishing these three structures you can determine what is actionable in the time you have been given. Once we determined our audience, our review committee and our guiding principles it was easy to decide on the rest.

Intel’s 50th anniversary theme was Do Wonderful, riffing on a founding father, Robert Noyce quote, “Don’t be encumbered by history, go out and do something wonderful.” It included 5 audience centric tentpoles that complimented a core value of volunteerism which we called the Intel Involved Volunteer Challenge, Winners of Wonder. This was the opportunity to take 2 weeks to give back, which allowed employees, customers and retirees a chance to share their Intel story online and through video. There were also celebrations around the world with prizes and a ceremony webcast for all employees to enjoy.

All this, along with a Guinness Book of World Record winning Drone Show, a dancing bunny man gif, a cake contest and Nasdaq bell ringing at our corporate headquarters was executed within 5 months within budget, a feat that would never had been possible without a sound structure.