What’s the best way to develop a vision and strategic plan – whether it’s a country strategy, a Thematic Strategy or a Business Strategy?
Directors have a choice between two options (though often there’s overlap):
- consultant/expert-led; extractive: a consultant is hired to consult staff, partners and donors before collating opinions and then weighing in with their expert opinion and drafting a strategy document for review and sign off. Seen as “quicker” the hidden cost is limited buy-in among staff.
- impartial facilitator-led; participatory: this approach involves the same stakeholders, but uses a multi-day participatory process to review, reflect, analyse, draw conclusions, build consensus, set future direction, allocate roles and responsibilities and define measurable results and milestones.
At People Zone we believe that real magic happens when people come together to share their experience and learning. The experience, and the result, is so very different from the consultant approach – where individuals are consulted individually. The reason why we do facilitation is that it really is true that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The very fact that people share and explore their ideas and opinions with one another means that they start to perceive and understand things differently.
Participants share their successes, challenges and learning; the quality of their partnerships; innovation they’ve developed or adapted. They also discuss the changing context and their working environment, looking at under-exploited opportunities and threats which threaten to derail the good work that’s being done.
So, the result is a much more considered, realistic and feasible – yet ambitious and dynamic – strategic plan.
Our clients come to us because they realise that no strategy is worth the paper it’s written on if there’s no buy-in.
Tools and Processes
Our facilitation work is based on tried and tested methods developed by a number of organisations specialising in cutting edge theory and methods – including ICA. ICA is a global body who, since the 1960s, has been focused on its mission to “advance human development worldwide”.
The ICA’s Technology of Participation (ToP) toolbox is its prized posession – comprising a suite of highly effective and adaptable structured processes to take a group from its starting point to its end goal, with skills training to ensure the facilitator has the necessary capabilities to support, rather than influence, the group.
The ToP toolbox includes two methods which are covered in the the General Facilitation Methods course.
- Focused Conversation
- Consensus Workshop
Together these methods enable groups to explore issues in a more productive and inclusive way in order to be able to come to more thoughtful conclusions and agreeing on the best way forward.
These methods are used within the Participatory Strategic Planning and the Dynamic Action Planning methods.
The ToP Strategic Planning process begins with developing a shared vision, looks at the contradictions that may restrict progress, develops strategic actions and creates an action plan to implement the strategies.
The workshop proceeds through the logical steps of strategic planning, starting with connecting to the vision and ending up at identifying commitment to actions in the next year.
A key element in the process is the consideration of “contradictions” – the things we need to fix that have hindered achievement of existing goals.
The ToP Action Planning workshop uses a structured process to translate a project idea, strategy or task into a focused actionable timeline.
The Action Planning method uses the core facilitation techniques to actively engage all members of a group, so building commitment and ownership at all stages.
The method is suitable for planning short to medium-term projects, or completing projects that have stalled.
Meetings that Work is for anyone who leads or designs meetings, learning events and conferences.
It is also for facilitators who want to lead meetings with a clear purpose and great outcomes – including team leaders and managers within organisations, those working with Boards, management teams, partnerships and external stakeholders, youth and community workers and independent facilitators.
The course has no pre-requisite, and is recommended to newcomers to facilitation.