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.