Effective Strategic Planning
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 works 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 planning sessions that 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 planning session is effective.
A successful 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 facilitator brings structure, an impartial perspective and useful expertise, experience and feedback.
Experience shows that when your 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.
To help you decide whether you need to use an external facilitator, you can download a facilitation fact sheet at http://www.kmgconsulting.com.au/resources/factsheets/FacilitateFS.pdf
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 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.
Kerrie Mullins-Gunst is an expert in how you can lead, manage and mentor your people, and one of Australia's leading female business speakers. For free leadership tips, tools and resources visit www.kmgconsulting.com.au or call on 61-3-9859 3924.
For practical help with your strategic change program, check out our resource kit, Managing Change in the Workplace. This comprehensive guide is intended for everyone expected to lead, manage and implement change. Visit the Managing Change in the Workplace information portal to find out how to download the free Introductory Chapter and start using this practical change management guide and workbook today.