Facilitating business strategy workshops to suit your organisation
- Is your business undergoing significant change, or seeking the best path forward to achieve your goals?
- Do you need guidance to clarify your goals and bring focus to your direction?
Gain consensus and define direction
The strategic planning process means different things to different organisations. But the one constant is the desire to gain consensus and define the direction of future efforts.
Strategic planning is rational and emotional
It’s tempting to think strategic planning is a purely rational process focused on facts, figures and logical consideration of options. However, in reality the strategic planning process, whether that is updating an existing plan or creating something new, can be an emotional journey for those participating in the process.
Long-standing thought patterns, previous experiences, unconscious biases, existing relationships, power struggles and pet projects can become intertwined to confuse issues, frustrate participants and possibly hold the planning process back.
That’s where having an experienced external facilitator can be helpful. Someone to guide everyone through the process, stay on track, encourage fresh thinking, and help unite the various inputs to get the whole team pulling together.
What’s the strategic planning process?
Effective facilitation of the strategic planning process is based on some important underlying principles:
- Understanding your goals for the process including the key questions to be answered
- Having the right participants, combining senior decision-makers, key staff and other stakeholders who are impacted by your organisation
- Reviewing relevant information in advance such as previous strategy documents, Board minutes, annual report, financial reports or management meeting reports
- Preparing an effective agenda for the group session to ensure the main focus remains the main focus
- Getting input in advance of the planning session (or sessions) from a range of stakeholders and collating that for discussion at the session
- Ensuring all participants have an equal opportunity for input, without individual personalities taking control
- Capturing the key outcomes and priorities with related notes and action points for future follow up
Clearly, this process is more than just turning up on the day to facilitate a conversation. As with many high value activities the secret is in the preparation. Doing the homework. Understanding key issues. Defining priorities. Gaining insights into group dynamics. Setting expectations.
The Vectis Strategic Planning Hierarchy
The strategy development process is usually based on the Vectis strategic planning hierarchy with its layered (or cascading) sequence of exploration.
Whilst we have a process we know works to create great outcomes for clients, we’re also flexible to discuss any particular requirements a client may have.
After the strategic planning session
Writing up the notes, providing a summary of key outcomes, or drafting a strategic plan document are options which can be discussed on a case-by-case basis. Clients may have the staff to undertake this documentation step, or the external eye of the facilitator may be seen as an important component to ensure the outcomes from the session are correctly translated into the summary.
Operational plans ensure traction
It’s great to have clarity around your strategic direction. However the real value for the organisation is in implementing actions to deliver the outcomes defined within the strategic planning process.
Creating an operational plan, or implementation action plan, is logically the next step after the strategic planning process is complete. The process for creating an operational plan varies greatly depending on the size and structure of the organisation. If necessary Vectis can provide assistance to bridge the strategic-operational divide and assist the management team to plan and prioritise their activities.
Strategic planning facilitation by
Stuart is an accomplished workshop leader, consultant and facilitator with over 20 years experience working with a diverse range of businesses and teams.
Stuart holds a Bachelor of Business (Marketing, University of Western Sydney) and a Graduate Certificate in Management (International Business, University of Queensland).
Stuart has experience working with leading companies in many industry sectors including:
- Business-to-business products and services
- Manufacturers of equipment, industrial goods and food products
- Distributors of industrial products and technical goods
- Commercial trades contractors such as electrical contractors
- Service providers such as information technology and software
- Education providers such as RTO’s and adult education
- Professional services such as consultants and accountants
Commonly asked questions
(1) What gets covered during the strategy planning process?
As this is a customised process the specific content and agenda for a strategic planning session will vary from company to company. Specific requirements will be discussed with each client. However some common areas of work include:
- Defining or refining the Vision for your organisation
- Undertaking a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) from the perspective of your growth strategy
- Defining Values for the organisation
- Assessing future risks across key areas of the business
- Identifying Strategic Priorities and Key Actions under each Priority to create a framework for future implementation plans
- Developing effective processes to anchor strategic and operational reviews within the company
- Identifying appropriate KPI’s (and recognising which are leading and lagging) to monitor performance towards achieving goals
It’s worth keeping in mind the strategic planning process is a program of work not a one-off event. Some of the work is done before a group session is held, some is achieved during the session, and some is undertaken after the session and may include discussions with selected participants or stakeholders.
(2) How much time is needed?
This totally depends on what the client is aiming to achieve and availability of participants. It can require a focused half-day session, a full-day or even multi-day schedule. In some situations it can be helpful to space sessions to allow time for investigation and assessment of various components of the planning process before further progress is made.
(3) Who should attend planning sessions?
Effective strategic planning takes into account a variety of perspectives and utilises expertise across domains. Participants should be selected based on their knowledge of the topics being addressed and their insight into the impact of the organisation. Certainly the management team, senior staff and possibly external stakeholders could offer great value. In some situations participation may involve responding to requests for input as part of the preparation process and may not require attendance at the group session.
(4) We’re in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney or Melbourne. Can we run the strategy sessions here?
Yes, most definitely. Stuart Ayling is based in Brisbane and can easily travel to your location. Keep in mind the package of work around the strategic planning process always involves some preparation and research prior to conducting any in-person strategy development sessions, and this preparation is often able to be conducted remotely.
(5) Can we run the strategy development sessions remotely?
Yes. We can keep participants involved and engaged using modern technology and good session design. Of course we don’t simply run the usual in-person format as an online session. That’s not effective. We’ll discuss the requirements with you to ensure the process is timely and manageable.
(6) Can Stuart facilitate other events for us?
Certainly. Stuart can help you get the best outcomes from company planning days, organisational reviews, team development workshops and a range of communication-based professional development programs.
(7) How do we get started?
The best idea is to contact us to arrange a confidential discussion. We’ll explore your present situation and what you’d like to achieve from the strategic planning or review process.