Getting Started video summary

I recorded a summary of my simple three-step Getting Started System on video for you here:

You can download the Getting Started Worksheet here.

Getting Started System

Take Action - get startedWhether you are starting a new year, a new quarter, a new job or a new role, a new project or just a new day, getting started is something that a surprising number of people struggle with.  And yet it is a common situation we all face constantly.

If you establish an effective system for just getting started properly you’ll be amazed at how much easier it becomes to ‘get it done’ and achieve rapid results.

Your system for getting started properly will, of course, vary somewhat in scope and detail for larger more complex projects or longer timeframes, compared to getting started on that unwanted job that has been sitting on your desk for weeks now.

If you are getting started on the whole future strategy for your organisation you will probably use a formal facilitated strategic planning process to most effectively get started and build team commitment to the process.  If you are in a senior position and still struggle with getting started a good coach will guide you in implementing a system for getting started such as the simple Three-Step System I will share with you now.

Most of the time for most people, this system will be all the impetus that you need to get started on small and medium projects – and then get them done.


Step 1 – Context

Just as in any full scale and formal strategic planning process, your first step should always be to clarify your Context.  In strategic planning we do this through a thorough exploration of the organisation’s vision, purpose, mission and values.

For smaller projects all you need to do is clarify your answers to the following questions:

  • What do you want to accomplish? (Your mission)
  • Why do want to do this? (Your purpose)
  • What three or four goals achieved would equate to success with this project? (Your vision)

And that’s it! While complex corporates and large projects deserve a full and formal strategic planning process, your personal projects or daily tasks just require you to be clear about these three aspects of the Context in which you are working.

If you can’t answer these three question quickly and easily for all your projects, you are either wasting time doing useless tasks or you desperately need a coach to help you focus and operate more effectively.


Step 2 – Commitment

Once you have identified the context in which you are operating, your next step is to commit to the series of tasks required to achieve each of your 3 or 4 your goals that describe what success looks like.

For each goal draw up a list showing the following items:

  • All the specific tasks required to achieve the goal
  • The person responsible for each task, whether it is you or someone else
  • The time or date a task is due to be completed
  • The amount of time that will be required to complete it (or any deadlines or time constraints)
  • The resources that will be required to complete it (or resource constraints)

Now is the time to drill down to the detail of exactly what you must do to complete the project.  Not the things that you would like to do if you had time, or the things that have always been done before.  Just the essential tasks required to achieve each goal.  That’s it!  Nothing more.

If there’s time you can always come back later and add frills and extras, but for now all you need to commit to is the minimum essential tasks to achieve your goals.

One of the common reasons why people don’t get started is because every time they think of starting, they think of all the additional things they could do to improve the project or outcome and each goal grows bigger and bigger and requires more and more effort and it all just gets too hard.  Don’t let this happen to you.

For now commit to just the essentials – and nothing more.


Step 3 – Clear the Decks

Some people use tidying up their desk or office as an excuse to avoid actually getting started doing anything!  But if you clear the decks as Step 3 of your Getting Started System, you will find it clears all the mental and physical space you need to start quickly and finish easily.

Get rid of distractions.  Do what you have to do to prevent any interruptions for the next hour or whatever time you have allocated.  Divert the phone, turn off your email, contact anyone who may need to speak to you before you start.  Shut your door.  Make it known that you are not available until your chosen time, absolute emergencies excepted and there had better not be any emergencies!

Just as you gather the physical resources you need to undertake any project, set things up so you have the time available to get started and work solidly for your allocated time.

And that’s pretty much it.  Now that you’ve cleared the decks it’s time to get started – and get it done!


Follow this simple Three-Step System for Getting Started and you will be amazed and delighted at how your productivity and effectiveness explodes.

Download your   Free Getting Started System and Worksheet 


For details of Kerrie Mullins-Gunst’s Business Coaching Services and Group Facilitation Services visit our website at


Have you got a system for Getting Started?  Share your system and your feedback on my system by leaving a comment below.

Finding opportunity in a crisis

Issues, critical incidents and crises can present many opportunities for the organisation that is open to learning. Meyers and Holusha (1986) identified seven potential advantages or gains which can arise from a business crisis:

  • New leaders or heroes may be born
  • Organisational change may be accelerated
  • Latent problems are faced
  • People are changed
  • New strategies evolve
  • Early warning systems develop for future issues
  • New competitive edges appear.

During a crisis it is vital that actions are oriented to each of the following:

  • containing the crisis
  • fixing it
  • communicating with the authorities and all other important stakeholders, and
  • learning from the crisis without focusing on laying any blame.

The organisation which does not attempt to learn from a crisis or critical incident is foregoing a major opportunity. Many organisations which accept the challenge to learn from a crisis or incident quickly discover the potential of a proactive issue risk management program to limit their future exposure.

If you would like to learn from the experiences of others without personally undergoing such a crisis, contact KMG Consulting for details of how we can help you develop a crisis preparedness plan or issue risk management program before it is too late.

Achieving Great Results

To consistently achieve results, effectiveness is vital. But there is a difference between effectiveness (doing the right things) and efficiency (doing things right).

Cranes In The Sky.

As with so many simple observations this has profound implications. You see, it doesn’t matter how well we do something, if that thing is not what we should be doing.

Of all the factors which make an organisation effective, doing the right things is the most fundamental. Whether it be in your marketing program, individual projects, or across the whole organisation, effectiveness is the key to success.

A few organisations may be fortunate enough to do the right things by accident, but for most of us achieving great results means planning.

Planning is one of the most important aspects of winning results. Planning is central to success for individuals, groups, associations, and for businesses whether large or small. Yet repeatedly we hear just how badly planning is done.

Eighty per cent of small businesses do not have a business plan. Eighty per cent of small businesses fail within three years.

And little has changed, even for larger businesses, since the Karpin Report identified them as having difficulty planning, stating: “the main Australian enterprises and their managers have too short-term a focus.”

Despite the evidence of how hard it is to plan well, some people still claim planning is simple. If that were completely true, surely we would all be better at it? In fact, effective planning may not be hard, but it is difficult to do without help. Even those of us who help others plan for a living, appreciate external input for our own plans.

Effective organisations (like effective individuals) plan. Their plans are always written down, but rarely set in concrete.

Good plans are dynamic documents, subject to regular review and evolving with circumstances. As General Eisenhower said “It’s not the plan but the planning that counts.”

The power of planning lies in its capacity to focus our attention beyond the distractions of the journey, on our purpose and objective. Plans remind us of the forest when we are deep in the trees.

Remember, failing to plan is surely planning to fail.

Why change doesn’t always work

Change that worksOne of the things I often notice when I am facilitating strategic planning programs for my clients is the wide range of attitudes to change portrayed by different business leaders in the room.

For some people the prospect of change is exciting and for others change is exhausting or even daunting.

It’s not unusual to find some participants with a gung-ho “any change is a good change” attitude literally facing off across the room against others with a more resistant “it’ll never work – anything but change” attitude.

And it’s true – change doesn’t always work!

But without change there is nothing.  As a strategic planning facilitator, ensuring that the changes your organisation embarks on not only work but yield positive results, is fundamental for me.

Whatever the attitudes strategic planning participants display, it is inevitable that some changes will arise from any strategic planning program.  So you can imagine I tend to spend quite a bit of time thinking about things like why change doesn’t always work.

Recently I joined Dean Holland’s Quick Start Challenge as part of my own continuing professional development and today I thought I might share with you some of Dean’s ideas about change and how to make it work.  I think you will find they offer a helpful perspective on why change doesn’t always work and why I am always wary of both the gung-ho “any change is a good change” people and the “anything but change” people.

We all know that change is inevitable.

In fact, everything is constantly changing.  Dean describes it as: “Change is automatic, like the weather.”

“However,” he goes on to say “PROGRESS is not automatic.  We have to take control and take action to see real progress.”

And this, it seems to me, is what lies at the root of the problems for the “anything but change” people.  When you feel like you have no control, or you adopt a passively resistant approach to change and implementing strategic planning outcomes, you will block progress even if you can’t delay change.  And so of course in this situation, change doesn’t work.

But it’s also a problem for the “any change is a good change” people .  Unless your proposed changes are aligned with well considered strategic objectives they will not yield real progress.  In fact they will become another example of change that didn’t work…

To achieve positive results with organisational change requires a process that brings people on board with the changes willingly, that develops understanding as to why the changes are important, what the benefits will be and how they will be shared, and that creates clarity about exactly what actions will foster the changes and who will take those actions.  Get this right and you will find change works!

So while change doesn’t always work, so long as your strategic planning process is well facilitated you can take control of the change process and be confident you will see real progress towards your desired results – and ultimately achieve true change that works!

Business in a Social Context

We all find it easy to avoid risks which are clearly visible, and everyone takes more care moving into uncharted territory. But when your old environment is changing slowly and subtly, you may need ‘new eyes’ to see the risks and opportunities.

The context in which business operates is changing slowly and subtly, creating a whole new set of risks for the unwary. Profit is no longer the only bottom line. Social and environmental bottom lines are becoming established, and whether you are measuring or reporting on them, you are being assessed against them.

It has been reported that Australians hold stronger views about corporate social responsibility and behaviour than people in any other country in the world. According to David Uren, more than half of all Australians have actually punished a company in some way for its actions. For organisations with their ‘eyes wide shut’ this change in community expectation will represent a significant risk to their performance.

If you have the ‘new eyes’ to see opportunities in this changed expectation, you can become the leader in your field.

“The real magic of discovery lies not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

Marcel Proust

Whether you like it or not, you are doing business in a social context. Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on doing business in a social context.


Strategic Planning Blueprint for Success

Strategic Planning Blueprint SuccessWhen I work with organisations to develop their strategic plans it still surprises me how varied the goals and expectations of the team around the table can actually be.

So often senior management teams, who thought they were all heading in the same direction, discover with amazement the different future visions held by their colleagues.

As deep differences are uncovered, the reasons for conflict, problems and past failures can become evident. The clear and obvious path forward for one person represents a backward turn for another, until consensus can be reached on organisational direction. Values which some thought were shared by the group may need to be questioned and the meaning, mission and purpose of the organisation scrutinized.

Many programs, departments and organisations have been created and succeeded with no formal business plan. But only if they have a definite strategy: a strategic planning blueprint for success consisting of a clear vision of the future, a strong sense of purpose, a set of shared values and common expectations which guide the articulation of goals or milestones.

Organisations without such a strategic planning blueprint for success, not only clearly articulated but agreed and widely communicated, struggle.

Your Strategic Planning Blueprint

As organisations grow, articulating the strategic planning blueprint can often lead into a more formal business plan. For a smaller organisation, or a special program or project, just the blueprint or strategic plan may be sufficient. But the process of creating your strategic planning blueprint for success underpins most successful teams at all levels in your organisation.

Are all your people working to achieve the same vision?

“The only limits are, as always, those of vision.”

James Broughton

Contact us today for details of how you can develop an effective strategic planning blueprint that brings your whole team together to achieve the success you desire.


Effective Strategic Planning

Strategic planningStrategic planning is more than just a long staff meeting.

The process of strategic planning is probably one of the most powerful tools available to an organisation, department or team. When a group work together to develop a plan they carry a strong commitment to implementing it away with them.

Yet too many people have had poor experiences with strategic planning sessions which fail to reach decisions, or where communication problems, dominant personalities and internal politics prevent constructive interaction.

There is a lot written about strategic planning, but much less on how to ensure your strategic planning session is effective.

What makes Strategic Planning Effective?

A successful and effective strategic planning session needs to:

  • build team commitment and establish a shared vision of your preferred future
  • forge agreement on the need for changes
  • provide direction, purpose and accountability
  • identify the resources required
  • renew your team’s energy and enthusiasm, and
  • ensure everyone is focused on the actions which count.

Achieving all these outcomes, as well as generating a sound strategic plan, is more likely with independent, professional facilitation. A good strategic planning facilitator brings structure, an impartial perspective and useful expertise, experience and feedback.

Experience shows that when your strategic planning session is run by a team member the most likely outcome is a long staff meeting, with all the inherent dangers of entrenched positions, ‘group think’ and resistance to change.

An experienced facilitator who is expert in the strategic planning process can guide your group to a successful outcome by introducing new approaches and helping participants think creatively about problems, issues and opportunities.

By keeping discussions focused, on track and on time, and ensuring all voices are heard, key decisions are taken in a positive way, making sure your strategic planning is most effective.

Special Offer

If you are uncertain whether to use an external facilitator for your meeting, or you need to convince someone else to use one, have a look at our Free Fact Sheet ‘Why Use a Facilitator?’

(More ideas on how you can facilitate effective strategic planning in the Quick Tips below.)

Strategic Planning Quote of Note

“A corporation without a strategy is like an airplane weaving through stormy skies, hurled up and down, slammed by the wind, lost in the thunderheads. If lightning or crushing winds don’t destroy it, it will simply run out of gas.”

Alvin Toffler

Strategic Planning Facilitation Quick Tips

Involve your facilitator in designing your planning session. Their experience with many other groups offers valuable insight and new perspectives into what will be most effective in achieving your goals for the planning process.

A competent and experienced facilitator will have the flexibility, skills and ability to guide your group to its ultimate objective via a range of different paths. Encourage and empower your facilitator to modify planned activities in response to the group dynamic on the day.

Consider using an external strategic planning facilitator for other important meetings such as project debriefs, incident reviews, evaluations sessions, change implementation programs, employee forums, community or customer consultations and leadership programs.

And Call us on 03-9859 3924 to discuss how we can help make your next strategic planning workshop your most effective yet!

Group Conflict

What to do When Group Dynamics or Group Conflict are a Problem

scream and shout

Once you are promoted to a group leadership role you will find yourself responsible for meeting or group facilitation as a regular part of your role. So it is important you develop the skills required to manage group dynamics and handle any group conflict effectively.

Aside from routine team meetings, there are many other groups you may be called upon to facilitate.  Strategic planning workshops, incident debriefs, departmental meetings, external events or conferences and more. So it makes sense to ensure you know enough about group facilitation to decide whether you should do it yourself or bring in external professional facilitators in a given situation.

Although group facilitating might sometimes look easy, for many people the workshop facilitation skills required to achieve a satisfactory outcome can be more of a challenge than anticipated.

As a workshop facilitator, you need to be particularly conscious of group dynamics, including any pre-existing or emerging group conflict, and manage the process and personalities, all while you remain focused on the specific outcomes and results you are trying to achieve. This can be very difficult to do, if you also want to contribute to the discussion.

A good professional facilitator will be acutely aware of the group dynamics, including any potential group conflict, when facilitating a workshop, debriefing session, strategic planning process or meeting.

Here are three critical aspects of group dynamics a meeting facilitator must manage:

Group Conflict

Work group conflict is one aspect of meetings that worries many people, but when it is managed properly by an experienced group facilitator, it can be quite positive.

In fact, groups that suppress differences of style, opinion or approach or never discuss any underlying group conflict, are rarely as successful over the long term as those that accept and even encourage discussion about areas of dissent or group conflict.

When you are exploring long term options in a strategic planning process, different perspectives and disagreements are a healthy part of work communication and should be both encouraged and respected.

If you are bringing in an external facilitator for your meeting or workshop and you expect conflict within the group, you should discuss your concerns with any potential group facilitators in advance. This way you can be confident the professional facilitators you select will incorporate group exercises that ensure all participants have the opportunity to express themselves appropriately.

When conflict persists a skilled meeting facilitator will still be able to build understanding and a level of consensus about the next actions to be taken, despite any group conflict.

Dominant Personalities

Another important aspect of group dynamics to consider is whether there are any dominant personalities in the group who may make it difficult for others to contribute fully to the workshop.

The professional facilitators role in this situation is to ensure everyone participates in all group exercises and discussions, not just dominant, extroverted or senior members of the group.

In some situations it may be necessary to address cultural expectations of who should speak or when someone should speak. Some individuals or cultural groups expect to be asked for their input before they will contribute to discussions and a good facilitator will ensure everyone is explicitly invited to contribute to each key discussion or group exercises during the meeting or workshop.


The final aspect of group dynamics I want to address is that of assumptions. When people work together, or spend a lot of time together, it becomes easy to assume that everyone shares the same point of view or perspective on a whole range of matters, including how people will interact with each other as well as the topic under discussion.

A skilled meeting facilitator will be focused on detecting and questioning assumptions. Common assumptions that may need to be made explicit and addressed revolve around the program agenda and expected outcomes, and about exactly how the workshop will be run.

To facilitate a positive group dynamic and productive group exercises, group agreement should be sought about how things that might otherwise be assumed will be handled. Agreement should be sought about things such as interruptions and phone calls, breaks and punctuality, confidentiality and respect, listening to other participants and even speaking one at a time, for example.

If you decide that the group facilitating role is one you can (or need to) handle yourself, focusing on these three key areas of group dynamics – including group conflict, personalities and assumptions – will help you to gain most from your group leadership role.

Kerrie Mullins-Gunst (MBA, BSc, DipEd, FAICD, FRACI) is an experienced and professional business facilitator. Call our office on 03-9859 3924 today to discuss your group facilitation needs.

Should you decide that you will be more likely to overcome any group conflict issues and achieve your desired outcomes by using an external group facilitator, please call us on 03-9859 3924 to discuss how we can help you with professional meeting facilitation.

Strategic Planning

Good group leadership depends on good group facilitation. Throughout our site we feature information, tips and articles based around one of the central business leadership tasks in any organisation: group facilitation of Strategic Planning and how becoming or using a better workshop facilitator can help you.

Strategic Planning Resources

To assist you we have organised these strategic planning resources into a number of core ideas, including:

Group Facilitation

When it’s done well, group facilitation looks simple, although it isn’t always as easy to be a good workshop facilitator as it looks. Group facilitating takes skill and experience and it’s almost impossible to do if you also need to participate in the process as well as facilitate the group. This section offers tips on how to facilitate meetings for best results, as well as the value professional facilitators can add and group dynamics issues you must be conscious of in your group leadership role.

More details on group leadership and group facilitation

Team Building Ideas

I know some leaders and managers shudder at the thought of taking on responsibility for team bonding and group exercises, but if your team is in need of corporate team building activities, you will be acutely aware that your team is not performing to the standard you would wish. In this section we evaluate a number of team building ideas to help you create the team spirit that generates real results.

More details on team building ideas

Effective Meetings

For meeting planning to be effective, meetings need to promote group decision making and this doesn’t usually happen by chance. For important team meetings, for example where your objective is strategic planning that guides your future growth, an effective meeting may require business strategy consulting with the assistance of a professional meeting facilitator. An effective business strategy consultant will also be able to assist you with your business strategy implementation so it makes sense to ensure your meeting facilitator has the appropriate strategic planning skills and qualifications.

In this section we investigate the sort of group task that will benefit from an external facilitator or the facilitation skills you will need to have in-house to achieve the same results. We will also share a number of meeting tips that will help you achieve your work goals.

More details on effective meetings

While we will also explore many other aspects of strategic planning, including leadership styles, and look closely at your business management, web marketing and other marketing ideas and more, this is just meant to be a quick introduction to some of the central strategic planning resources you will find here.

What do you think? Please comment below to tell me.
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