Strategy Development - Facilitation

Strategy Development - Facilitation

By David Willden



Imagine this Scenario

Imagine for a moment, you were hired two weeks ago as the new VP of strategy for a large international company. You have just been summoned to facilitate next week a day-long emergency off-site strategy session with 25 of the top executives. The firm had been very successful but has been struggling over the last two years. This hasn’t helped morale and opinions are running wild as to why the firm is struggle and whose fault it is. This is further dragging the firm down.

Your gut at this point tells you that the firm’s underlying problems align more with clashing egos than with business know how and skill. The session could be a very difficult one given the personalities and stress levels of the players. The question is, how do you best prepare for this session?

How Would You Handle the Situation?

Understanding both the business needs and the individual needs of the top executives is important. The temptation for many of us in situations like these is to focus on understanding the business needs first. However, in this situation, understanding the needs of the players may be more important given the time limitations. Why?

People are emotional creatures. People are typically focused on themselves. During the course of a day, a person will focus most of the thoughts on their security, needs, goals, and wants. Parents may spend part of their day thinking and attending the needs of others. However, very little time is spent focused on thinking about others beyond these circles – unless required to do ones job.


Strategy Development - Facilitation


Meet Individually with Executives

The temptation will be to focus on yourself. How do I successfully facilitate this session? I have so much to learn. What if I don’t present myself well? What happens if the sessions isn’t a good one? If you are too focused on your needs at this point, you will likely fail.

Instead, focus on meeting with each of the executive individually. This can help you to get to core business issues quicker, get to know their strengths, begin to establish a relationship of trust, and most importantly to understand their individual concerns. Ask for their input on how to move forward and create an environment of trust for this meeting. This will help them to begin to think about how they can help to be part of the solution.

Research shows that strong emotional and social skills carry 60% of the responsibility for a person’s success in the workplace, overshadowing such skills as time management, motivation, vision and communication. (Social Intelligence)

Determine How to Create a Respectful Environment

Determine how you and the CEO can create a respectful environment for the session. Meet with the CEO first, let him know like to meet with his executives and let him know why. Once you have meet with the other executives, organize your thoughts and share your findings. Focus on the strengths of each of the players.

Ask the Right Questions

How can you and the CEO facilitate the asking of the best questions that will get at the issues in the most constructive manner possible?

Tools and Tips

Facilitation can play an important role in ensuring a well-run meeting or engagement process. Useful facilitation skills include planning agendas, creating the appropriate group environment, encouraging participation, and leading the group to reach its objectives. Of course facilitation can also be used at the organisation, project or community level.

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