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.