Using Independent Facilitators for Strategic Planning

Why invite an independent resource to your very important strategic planning day or your next really important implementation planning day?

As experienced CEO’s MD’s and GM’s my associates and I agree that when developing  strategic plans for your business, it’s important for you to  be a part of the planning team. It’s very difficult to lead a session and be an effective participant at the same time. Using an independent and experienced facilitator allows full participation and contribution from the team. You also have the benefit of  the experience the facilitator brings.

Another benefit  is an absence of personal agenda. The facilitator and (now very popular) co-facilitator can keep the group on track by managing the process and providing constructive feedback and suggestions if  the team becomes bogged down.  In terms of  time, energy and quality outcome this is a valuable investment in achieving  clarity of delivery of the shared commitment.

The team may also request some creativity exercises to take them out of their familiar way of doing things to give them an opportunity to learn a new skill or a new way of approaching ideas, in our experience maintaining higher energy levels during a demanding and challenging process.

One of our most popular processes is leading planning days with two facilitators.  The facilitators have a better opportunity to observe the process and provide quality feedback to the group on their energy and participation.

Another interesting learning for us is that this is quite economical. Some of our clients have spent 3, 4 and 5 days away with teams developing very important plans. We have found that by increasing the professional support by co-facilitation, the time required to create the plan is often halved  or more.

Experienced facilitators take a comprehensive brief and  prepare rigorous processes to cover the collection and review of information, the exploration of green field ideas, conducting a risk analysis before the final plan creation. This is their job which allows the team to stay inside the process, optimising their skills and experience to create plans that secure their future business success.

The feedback we receive from this particular process is invaluable to us and of course validating. I would like to share with you some points that are indicative of a strategic planning team’s reflections;

This is the first time I have left one of these sessions not drained.

I feel ready to go back to work and get straight into this

I am amazed at how pleasant this was and how much we achieved in so little time

It was so good to spend quality time with my colleagues and deliver a great result

Let’s make this our new standard

So good to remove the old adversarial defensive behaviour

One hour session - 200 ideas

One hour session - 200 ideas


2 Responses to Using Independent Facilitators for Strategic Planning

  1. Bernard December 9, 2008 at 9:58 am #

    Absolutely agree, after working in the Public Sector at GM level as head of a very diverse organisation I am involved in strategic planning for a large construction company. What surprised me was the clarity and insight you can bring to the table and regardless of how independant you thought you may have been sitting at the top of a large organisation, a lot of the clarity comes from not being bogged not by opinions, viewpoint and subconscious biases when it comes to people and issues. Facilitating and seeing the way forward was not difficult. Other aspects were being involved in a narrower range of proffessions and roles than previously and being able to coax the issues from the organisation itself. You also provided the thinking and planning time for the strategic planning process whilst the operatives in the organisation rushed off to solve the next problem on-site. Ultimately the key was guiding and facilitating with a high level of ownership and involvement from staff. Deep down they knows what needs to happen, its just got to be made to happen.


  2. Bernard December 9, 2008 at 10:00 am #

    PS I knows how to spell but my grammar could improve!!!