Strategic Planning Facilitation Archives - Find A Facilitator

Category Archive: Strategic Planning Facilitation

A Successful Fiscal Year Starts with Strategic Planning

If strategic plans tend to put you on autopilot (schedule, create agenda, take notes, make a plan, etc.), it might be time to take a look at why you have regular planning meetings and revisit their purpose.

The Importance of the Annual Strategic Planning Session

A strategic planning meeting is a comprehensive process where a group determines what an organization should do in the following year. It outlines how everyone involved will reach his or her annual goals. While the approach may feel routine, the strategic planning process is not mundane, and you should not take it lightly.

A strategic planning meeting should be a rallying cry to everyone involved in the organization. The outcome of the planning process could result in your best year yet, but only if you prepare ways to ensure the meeting runs efficiently and drives toward the desired consensus. There are five main reasons to plan:

  1. To set direction and priorities:  A strategic planning session is an opportunity to define what your organization considers a success. This is the time to work together to outline the team’s shared priorities, and discuss how everyone can help reach those goals.
  2. To get everyone on the same page:  Your organization may be composed of many different teams or one small team. Either way, strategic planning will help you run like a well-oiled machine.
  3. To apply a strategy:  Your annual strategy will provide a guide for everyone to follow and help simplify decision-making throughout the fiscal year.
  4. To drive alignment:  On every level of your organization, people have specific goals and are working towards achieving them. Strategic planning can align those goals and gives everyone more opportunities to gain what they seek.
  5. To communicate a new direction:  Strategic planning is a time to get everyone in attendance involved in the goals of your organization. Through their participation, your message will be heard and taken to heart.

You might relate to one or all of the five reasons to plan, but understanding the reasons you prepare a strategic planning meeting is not enough. Plenty can go wrong. In fact, you might be looking back at your last planning meeting and wondering why you didn’t see any significant changes in 2016-17.

How a Professional Facilitator Creates Success

Many of the problems that are all too common in strategic planning meetings can be resolved with the support of a professional facilitator.

  • Problem: Too much focus on the past. Do the leaders in your organization get hung up on achievements or failures from the previous year?
  • Solution: A professional facilitator will keep the conversation on task, moving through the different touchpoints including your organization’s past initiatives.
  • Problem: Ideas are shared, but there is no consensus on where you want to be as an organization.
  • Solution: Facilitators are well versed in issue resolution and understand the tools necessary to build consensus. After analyzing past initiatives, they will move on to outlining your mission, vision, goals and objectives.
  • Problem: After outlining strategic goals, there is no plan in place to achieve them.
  • Solution: A professional facilitator will assign critical success factors to each goal. Those factors provide a simple guide to reach success.
  • Problem: You and your team have worked hard to create a strategic plan, but people neglect or forget it after a month or so.
  • Solution: Professional facilitators know how to monitor strategic plans. They will provide your team with the tools to set up checkpoints throughout the year to measure effectiveness.

A Facilitator’s Role in Establishing Goals

Facilitators are an essential part of establishing goals for an organization. They guide team members through their varied desires for the future of the company towards a solid and fleshed-out set of goals that all members can agree on. Here are some of the ways in which a facilitator can help a group to establish goals.

Leading Vision Exercises

Part of a professional facilitator’s role in establishing goals is helping the members of the team to discover what their goals are. We believe that one of the most powerful ways to do this is to encourage team members to get creative through vision exercises. There are many ways to get participants interested in vision exercises, but one way many facilitators use is similar to a guided meditation. The facilitator walks participants through a scenario and has them fill in certain bits of information either individually or as a group. Those bits of information will become the foundation for establishing their goals.

Ensure Goals Represent All They Should

Once a certified facilitator has established the basic foundation elements for the team’s goals, they must take time to make sure that the goals fully cover all of the key areas that your organization wishes to focus on. There is one simple question to ask to help team members determine whether their goals are fully comprehensive: “If the organization only achieves these goals, will it have fulfilled its mission?” If the answer is no, the facilitator will help the team to determine what elements are missing and to figure out goals for those elements.

Content Is Different from Wording

When the stakes are high, as they typically are when the future of an organization is being discussed, it can be very easy for people to get bogged down by very small details like word choice. A certified professional facilitator must carefully guide the conversation to avoid this pratfall and instead focus on the overall content of the goals. Ultimately, the specific wording for the goal will come with time; the team must first determine what the overall spirit of the goal is. Facilitators listen for team members to say things like, “A better word for that is…” and gently redirect the conversation towards something more productive.

Quality Check

Towards the end of the facilitation session, the certified master facilitator will do a quality check of the goals produced during the session. They will ask the team a series of questions about each of the goals they produced to ensure that the goals meet their needed purpose.

Elements of an Effective Strategic Plan

Strategic planning is the process of defining a company or organization’s fundamental identity and direction. The strategic planning process helps organizations determine business decisions and the allocation of resources that support and further that determination. Moreover, it includes a salient understanding of the business’s current position and a meaningful exploration of effective strategies for the future.

In order for a strategic plan to be effective, the strategic planning process must include the following basic components:

  • A communication strategy – deciding who will participate in the planning process as well as the extent of their involvement and how they will relay the points of the plan to their departments
  • Strategic task force – a core team of organizational leaders representing key business areas to ensure the plan reflects the concerns and objectives of the entire company/organization
  • Vision statement – the group’s road map for future directions and decisions
  • Mission statement – the definition of an organization’s identity and self-understanding that includes a statement of their core values and goals
  • Values – an organization’s central beliefs as well as a clear definition of acceptable organizational behavior
  • Goals – essential plans or strategies to realize a company’s mission
  • Objectives – concrete, actionable and measurable steps that advance a company’s goals and vision
  • Tasks – specific duties and responsibilities assigned to individuals or departments to support and further a company’s objectives
  • Implementation strategy – a crucial tactical plan that ensures not only the feasibility of the strategic policy, but also the proper prioritization of company initiatives and allocation of key resources
  • Monitoring of strategic plan – a crucial aspect that includes measuring the success as well as missteps in the implementation of the strategic plan and corrective actions that need to be taken (if any) to keep the plan on track.

Looking for a simple yet powerful Strategic Planning tool? Try The Drivers Model.

The Drivers Model provides an approach that is elegantly simple, yet robust and comprehensive enough to serve both a multi-billion-dollar corporation and a half-million-dollar non-profit.

The Role of Facilitator Services in the Strategic Planning Process

Organizations should always practice strategic planning, which entails defining organizational goals and creating a plan allowing each department to contribute to the completion of those goals. When departments are not working to achieve goals, or feel the goals lack direction, valuable time, money, and other resources are wasted, causing the organization to fall short of its goals. Given how crucial strategy is to the success of a business, many organizations turn to outside help to provide facilitator services.

A strategic planning facilitator is an individual who is in charge of leading a group of stakeholders in a strategic planning session or meeting. Some companies prefer to designate an internal leader as the strategic planning facilitator, but doing so will adversely affect the quality of decisions made during this process. An internal discussion leader is typically afraid to ask the tough questions, and could let personal bias steer the conversation away from ideas that he or she does not like. Conversely, a facilitator hired from an online database or from somewhere else outside of the organization does not bring any bias or personal interests to the discussion. He or she can act as an impartial leader as the group completes strategic planning in one of three ways. The three types of strategic planning that an organization might use are:

Goals-based planning

This is the most common approach to strategic planning, and involves defining the company’s mission, determining goals that align with that mission, and devising steps the company will need to take to reach those goals.

Organic strategic planning

This approach makes organizational values the focal point, as members of the group begin by defining the company’s values and then craft plans fitting those values.

Issues-based planning

This type of planning involves devising a strategic plan to address a problem or issue. The company begins by determining what the problem is, and then devises a multi-step approach for eliminating the problem.

When the company hires a professional to provide facilitator services for any of the above strategic planning strategies, it benefits from the individual’s unfamiliarity with the company. A strategic planning facilitator first obtains background information about the company by conducting interviews with top-level executives. From these interviews, he or she will learn the purpose of the meeting and gain a better understanding of the company’s industry. The strategic planning facilitator can also interview lower-level employees who would ordinarily be hesitant to share doubts or negative thoughts about the company with someone within the organization.

Once the strategic planning session begins, the strategic planning facilitator will use his or her facilitation experience to oversee the meeting. He or she will give each team member a chance to speak, and will even direct questions at specific individuals if he or she believes the individual to be too shy to speak during the discussion. Following the discussion, the strategic planning facilitator will make sure a consensus is reached before ending the session.

Without a facilitator, companies will not get the most out of their strategic planning sessions. Business leaders who are looking for someone to provide facilitator services should consult our database of facilitation professionals, which includes individuals from all over the country.

How a Strategic Planning Facilitator Clarifies the Organization’s Purpose

Businesses of all sizes -from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies – need to have a plan in place. Without a well-articulated vision, the organization will be as ineffective as a sports team without a game plan. However, a poorly formulated plan will cause an organization to not allocate its resources properly and ultimately fail to reach its goals. When an organization sees its plan is not working, it is time to go back to the drawing board with a process called strategic planning. This could entail enlisting the help of a strategic planning facilitator. Since it is inefficient for the company to keep rebooting its strategy, the company knows bringing in a skilled professional is the best way to create a plan that leads to long-term success. The information below will discuss the process of strategic planning, and how facilitator services allow an organization to complete this process effectively.

Strategic planning refers to the process an organization uses to define its direction or strategy, and the decisions the organization makes about how to allocate resources to achieve this strategy. When strategic planning is completed properly, the organization benefits by aligning available resources with defined objectives. Therefore, the company gets back far more than it invests when it hires a top-quality strategic planning facilitator. These professionals complete the process of strategic planning by completing some or all of the below procedures.

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis is used by organizational leaders to get a snapshot of the organization. Using this information, decision makers will be able to create a vision, set goals, and delegate responsibilities across organizational departments. A strategic planning facilitator helps with this process because he or she forces the organization to ask the tough questions. When a SWOT analysis is completed internally, individuals might list strengths and weaknesses, but will be afraid to speak up about opportunities and threats because they fear rejection or ridicule. An individual providing facilitator services acts as an impartial observer who makes group members feel more comfortable sharing ideas.

Create a Vision

A vision or vision statement describes what the organization wants to be and how it wants to operate within the marketplace. Another good way to think about the vision is to use it to describe what success looks like for the organization. A strategic planning facilitator will sit down with executives and other decision makers to create or revisit the vision statement. Using input from each person in the room, he or she will guide the group to a consensus.

Set Goals and Objectives

After evaluating or redoing the vision statement, the individual offering facilitator services will help the group set goals and objectives. These goals will be used to judge how close the business is to reaching its vision, setting measurable goals such as a number of sales or percentage of market share. Once these goals are in place, it will be easier to delegate responsibilities to individual departments.

Strategic Planning Facilitators: How to Choose the Right Facilitator

If you need the assistance of a strategic planning facilitator, you probably need it sooner rather than later. Before you hire a facilitator, be sure to consider how the qualities and credentials of the hired professional would affect the service you receive. Like the companies they assist, facilitators have a variety of characteristics, and finding one with the right characteristics can take time. As you weigh your options, observing the tips below will help you to find a facilitator who offers the qualities you need:

Choose a Person who has a Reputation for Being Professional

Facilitating a meeting can bring several challenges, such as dealing with argumentative or loquacious team members. Just as difficult team members can tempt their colleagues to fight fire with fire, they can tempt facilitators to do the same. Professional facilitators find ways to eliminate the behavior of troublemakers without potentially exacerbating it.

Choose a Person Who has the Right Skills

A facilitator should possess topnotch consulting skills in his or her area of expertise. Although a facilitator helps a group to reach its own solutions instead of supplying solutions as a traditional consultant would, consultation skills are still an important aspect of facilitation, especially for strategic planning facilitators.

A facilitator who lacks consulting experience in strategic planning can have difficultly facilitating effective strategies. Although the group arrives at the strategies, the facilitator must understand which strategies are valid and which ones are not.

Consider the Fee

For selection criteria, the fee of a facilitator should not hold more importance than his or her professional qualities, but you should consider the fee with of how often you would need facilitation. Choosing a facilitator whose fee is easily affordable has two advantages: you can use the person’s services as often as necessary, and, in doing so, you allow the person to gain unique insight into the needs and goals of your company.

Find Out if a Person Will Work With a Co-Facilitator

If you plan to have a co-facilitator work with the facilitator you hire, be sure to find out if the latter is willing to work with the former. Although the job of facilitators is to help a group reach a consensus, there have been several occasions where a group has helped a feuding facilitator and co-facilitator reach a consensus. To prevent this from happening at your company, find out if a facilitator is willing to share the reigns with someone else.

Strategic Meeting Facilitation: Why should you use a Facilitator?

According to a past cover story in Fortune magazine, ninety percent of business owners never implement a strategic plan for their business – an amazing statistic that can be explained by another one: almost ninety percent of business owners spend less than an hour per month meeting about business strategies. In most cases, the problem is not an unwillingness to discuss strategy, but a lack of facilitation for the discussion. Non-facilitated meetings tend to be informative and not innovative; and when a meeting’s focus is innovating strategies, that can be tragic for team morale, and therefore team performance. The solution—it may be as simple as hiring the right meeting facilitator.

Five Reasons to Use a Strategic Meeting Facilitator

Business consultants recommend having a short strategic planning meeting every month, and a longer one every quarter. Whereas the former should focus on reporting, the latter should use the reporting to fuel innovative ideas. To accomplish this, hiring a facilitator is important for at least five reasons:

Encourages Teamwork

The observation that familiarity breeds contempt often applies to co-workers, whose knowledge of each other’s mistakes can make mutual respect difficult. A facilitator can eliminate this dynamic by fostering a team environment where team members contribute equally to the end result, and counterproductive arguments are prohibited.

Builds Consensus

By encouraging teamwork that generates results, facilitators can help teams build consensus, which can carry over to monthly strategic planning meetings. If your team lacks consensus, and spends more time arguing than it does in agreement, strategic meeting facilitation can help create a newfound consensus.

Challenges Assumptions

Every business believes that certain practices are keys to its success. What if those practices hinder a business more than they help it? If they do, meeting facilitators can help reveal the truth by challenging team members’ basic assumptions about how they will achieve business goals.

Encourages Risk Taking

When you view them with the myopia of a company insider, knowing which risks to take and which ones to avoid can be difficult. When a facilitator is experienced in a business’ line of work, he or she can help team members take educated risks that get positive results. Because true innovation always involves risk, this aspect of meeting facilitation can be invaluable.

Keeps Discussion Realistic

As business leaders will discover over time, there is fine line between creative thinking and brainstorming concepts that, while impressive, will never work. When dialogue strays from realistic goals, a team can end up pursuing ideas that waste valuable time and money. When placed in the hands of an experienced facilitator, strategic meeting facilitation can prevent this from happening.

FindaFacilitator has the Facilitator You Need

FindaFacilitator specializes in supplying meeting facilitators for all types of meetings and business needs. If your strategic planning sessions are not generating the results you need, the solution could be as simple as having future meetings facilitated by a professional facilitator.

Strategic Planning: Are You Using the Correct Development Approach?

Businesses today must take a strategic approach to make certain objectives align with the desired path of an organization. Planning is an essential process for project oriented or companywide goals. Your strategic planning sessions must be structured appropriately to provide desired accomplishments. Facilitation services may need to be acquired to provide neutral assistance for continued progression toward the outlined purposes of these meetings. Experts bring benefits to business planning, such as improved communication or organization. Misinformation, opposing viewpoints, pre-existing hostilities, desired objectives, time constraints, and numerous other factors could affect meeting outcomes. An expert ensures quick resolution to prevent common communication problems from delaying the flow of each development session.

Facilitator Application of the “Drivers Model”

FindaFacilitator has developed a specific model, referred to as the Drivers Model, for improved planning results. It is a method used by facilitators for tackling or addressing specific business situations to simplify communication necessary for developing sound, strategic business objectives. This approach may be applied to an entire company, a team, or compartmentalized departments to create a positive and results-focused environment when a solid strategy must be built. The Drivers Model includes answering four important questions:

• Where are we now?
• Where do we want to be?
• How do we plan to get there?
• How will we monitor progress?

The first question helps with assessing current organizational standing to assist with identifying what approaches should be taken. Various areas are analyzed, including current customer needs, employee perceptions, requirements, industry shifts, competition comparisons, performance trends, and desired initiatives. Facilitators can provide additional direction during all phases of the Drivers Model. A strategic direction, developed with a vision or mission, is then defined based on the acknowledged assessment items. Goals, objectives, and guiding principles are created to set a standard throughout all other planning activities. Implementation planning determines how your company will achieve set objectives or the decided direction. It is during this phase that an expert will help you take into consideration all barriers, critical success factors, and objectives to develop solid strategies for the betterment of your business. Finally, methods for monitoring the achievement of defined strategies must be formed for recognizing changes, such as new barriers, and making necessary adjustments to objectives.

This process can be grueling regardless of company size or the expertise brought to the table. Strategic planning is a vital component when wanting to instill a sense of direction to both stakeholders and employees. It allows your business to prepare for future changes and set up a goal-driven approach centered on enhanced achievement. An expert can help in defining these aspects to increase the effectiveness of business planning. As a leader in facilitation services, our company strives to provide the best service possible for your planning needs. We developed the Drivers Model to provide an effective strategic outlook concerning the current standing and future direction of companies.

Corporate Strategic Planning: Why Hire a Facilitator for Your Next Meeting?

If you have served as a facilitator for a corporate strategic planning meeting, you know how difficult it can be. Facilitation requires an impartial approach—one that many executives wisely delegate to a professional facilitator. When performed by a professional, strategic planning facilitation offers the following benefits:

Everyone can participate in the meeting

Facilitators help companies make productive decisions, but they don’t make decisions for them. As an important member of your company, you should help make its decisions, not just facilitate them. A facilitator allows you and your colleagues to fill your rightful roles.

Matters are kept in the present

Have you attend meetings where problems weren’t resolved because only their history was discussed? A facilitator helps companies avoid this problem by keeping matters where they stand: in the present, and in need of resolution, better understanding, new approaches, etc.

When a company has a problem, it has a better understanding of how the problem developed than how to resolve it. A facilitator helps companies move from the understanding phase to the resolution phase.

A facilitator has anonymity

After colleagues have worked together for months and years, they know each other’s weaknesses, which makes them poor candidates to facilitate a corporate strategic planning meeting in each other’s presence. Unlike a team member, a facilitator has the advantage of personal anonymity, which helps eliminate prejudiced responses to his or her points.

Ideas are introduced in their purest state

When team members facilitate meetings, they often communicate ideas that they learned from former employers, or as a result of their own perceptions. The problem? Many team members call them out on this, asking why ideas from the past, or ones based on singular perception, are so valuable.

A facilitator prevents this from happening by presenting ideas in a pure state, helping team members consider the validity of an idea, not its non-essential history.

Unproductive arguments are minimized

Most facilitators begin a corporate strategic planning meeting by setting communication rules, which prevents individual audience members from dominating the dialogue or being argumentative. Minimizing long speeches and unproductive arguments makes meetings more productive, especially when the goal is to identify solutions.

A meeting stays on schedule and on topic

The role of a facilitator is dual: to stimulate results while keeping a meeting on schedule and on topic. When the goal is strategic planning, leaving topics uncovered could result in premature plans, which could necessitate more meetings. With their expertise in facilitation, facilitators ensure that planning sessions conclude as planned.