What Makes an Effective Strategic Planning Workshop?

Effective strategic planning prepares managers to develop strategies that will aid the company in the long run. It gives the company a general direction and a head start that motivates the team to begin. It involves prioritizing and assessing individually and as a group. A workshop that simulates a real planning environment will help the teams ease through the process when an actual opportunity presents itself.

The Five Basic Questions in Strategy Plans

Strategic planning leads any group of people to answer five basic questions, as taken from the article "Strategic Planning: Leading Your Association With a Plan for Tomorrow", written by John N Bailey for Leadership magazine.

According to Bailey, the team must first ask: "Where are we now?", Which presents the current situation of the company.

Then, "How did we get here?", Discussing the momentum that led the company to be where it is today.

Third, "where are we going?", Pointing to the path that the company is going as it continues with the plan it currently has.

Fourth, "where should we be going?", That is, the desired direction that the company should be headed.

And finally, "how will we get there?", Or what is basically called The Strategic Plan.

Answering these questions will allow the company to look at the business objectively and determine where it wants to be. Given the length of the answers, there should be a guide to aid the team to accomplish this. This is the role of a facilitator.

An Effective Workshop

A good workshop would entail a) a good format. Being able to ask the 5 basic questions creatively is based on a good format. With the process engaging and the ambiance and location conducive for teamwork, the team is assured of a good head start; and b) a good review of past projects and preparation. Being able to distinguish what works and what does not will greatly affect future plans.

Each workshop is generally the same, but what separates average from effective ones depend on a facilitator: how they bring out the best in the participants, and how they serve as a positive influence on the team, taking a general interest in their future by listening intently to their concerns and requests.

The Advantages of a Professional

The role of a facilitator is to keep the atmosphere professional, deflecting personal comments. It also allows the team to concentrate on the current state of the company, instead of the workshop. It allows teams to look at the situation objectively and to take criticism constructively to help in the company's future operations.

In the same way, a professional would be familiar with the entire process, letting them have the control over what happens in workshops: employees with a superior complex, those who want to say something but can not, those who say nothing and mean it , even those who really do not care. A professional facilitator, given years of training, will be able to see through body language and beyond words.

More than this, they also represent a third-party perspective, not knowing the past of a company, and will be dedicated only to helping it achieve an effective strategic plan. In-house facilitators would be too familiar to the participants, and the atmosphere might be so comfortable that discussions will be derailed from the main goal.

In the end, an effective workshop would depend on good format and preparation. Successful workshops, however, depend on hiring professional facilitators. Given their expertise, you can expect nothing but a successful plan for your company.