There are four things to consider before engaging a facilitator to manage your strategic planning process.
- We should bring a team of people together to build a plan during a relatively brief period – measured in hours or days of effort, not weeks or months.
- The sessions should generate ideas that are new and useful. They should lead to bottom-line value.
- The resulting plan should be credible and comprehensible to the rest of the organization.
- The process should strengthen the planning team’s capacity.
The question is, do we need a strategic planning facilitator to help us achieve that? I believe the answer is yes.
The Fear Factor
But a potential issue is the fear factor. A common objection to hiring a facilitator revolves around statements like, “I remember a session with this weird facilitator and the day was a total disaster”.
To avoid this kind of outcome a little due diligence is in order. It is reasonable to expect that the facilitator comes with a proven process; one that generates a certain type of product that you are comfortable with and they do it on a consistent basis?
For instance, at Hewat Strategic Edge we do what we do well, building Strategic Frameworks. We don’t experiment on our clients, nor should other facilitators. The facilitator should ensure that you have the answers to these questions before you need to ask.
Working on ‘Our Plan’
Timeliness is essential in business planning. If your planning has become staff work, its probably time to consider a facilitated planning process. Too often, one can hear the refrain, “let me take a crack at the plan”. No, at this point it should be us working on our plan, helped by someone who can manage us through the right steps.
Make it a Signature Event
A facilitated planning process should be accompanied by phrases like, “that was a couple of the best business days we have had in a long time”.
A facilitated planning process should not be just another staff meeting, it should be a signature event in the life of the organization. A couple of days invested should lead to years of potential benefits. It should provide the roadmap to future success.
If you are wondering if your facilitator can help you accomplish these results, ask them what’s their process and what has been their outcomes? Then ask yourself if you have sufficient confidence in them to let them guide you and your team to address the most vital issues affecting your future.
Planning is best done collectively, coherently and quickly. A facilitator can help you do just that.