Attracting and retaining customers and ensuring that an organization remains competitive in the marketplace are the primary responsibilities of for-profit and not-for-profit organization leaders. Organizations run on revenue, regardless of tax classification. Every three to five years, savvy leaders review their organization’s current state and the environment in which it operates, the organizations’ customers, the delivery of products and services, the competitive landscape, obstacles and threats to success and apparent opportunities and use that information to identify and prioritize goals that will set the organization on a path to a sustainable future.
It is imperative to create the conditions for a successful strategy planning or process improvement retreat/meeting. The world has changed and there is no time to waste on possibly unproductive “brainstorming sessions” that may have sufficed in the past. More than likely, the results of the planning retreat are vital to the organization and it would be unwise to allow the winds of fortune or internal politics to control outcomes.
Engaging a professional meeting facilitator to guide your strategy planning or process improvement retreat will guarantee that participants will identify goals and objectives that are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely) and earn the support of mid-level managers and other key staff. A facilitator allows all stakeholders to fully participate in the meeting, rather than confining a key decision-maker to the role of meeting overseer and time-keeper.
The facilitator creates a positive meeting environment for the participants and lays the groundwork for teamwork and productivity. He/she keeps participants focused on the topic and momentum flowing. Should a strong personality attempt to high-jack the agenda, or if the meeting somehow drifts off topic, the facilitator employs techniques to re-establish focus without offending or squelching participant engagement and creativity.
A skilled facilitator knows how to bring forth the wisdom in the room. He/she knows that most leaders already have the answers to the challenges their organization faces because they are its leaders. They only need the right flow of energy to bring wisdom and good ideas to the surface. If the group gets stuck, the facilitator will help participants to consider the questions that should be asked, which is another way to access the right answers.
One competency at which your meeting facilitator will be particularly adept is building consensus around a common vision and priorities, even if interpretations of these matters are divergent. Helping opposing camps to listen to the reasoning behind the concerns and choices of the other side can lead to the discovery of a “third way”, alternatives that incorporate the key strengths of each viewpoint, address what is important to each camp and allow the group to coalesce around this new hybrid approach.
Identifying long- and short-term goals that when implemented will grow market share; overcoming business challenges; improving service delivery and other process systems; creating or more effectively utilizing competitive advantages; and improving bottom line profitability over the approaching 3 – 5 years is how organization leaders fulfill their responsibilities and behave like good stewards. Contracting with a professional meeting and strategy planning facilitator ensures that leaders will meet these obligations and dispatch them appropriately.
Thanks for reading,