Strategic 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.
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.”
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!Your Turn: Do you have any advice you would like to share? What tips would you like to add? Please comment below.