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Secrets from a Facilitator – Clarify Expectations (Pt. 1)

by | May 4, 2021 | Discoveries

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On CEO Blog Nation, Karla Raines lays out three master tips for facilitating effective strategy retreats. Make this year’s board retreat memorable. You can find these tips on our website or in “Secrets from a Facilitator: Planning an Effective Strategy Process.” 

The first quarter of 2021 is in the rearview mirror, and you can see the year speeding up with each passing week. It’s time to prepare for your 2022 strategy process. The unprecedented nature of last year and the beginning of 2021 remind us that the usual approaches won’t do when complexity and uncertainty continue to shape the future. Who would have envisioned the GameStop mania or the Suez Canal freighter blockage?  

I’ve facilitated hundreds of retreats and strategy processes over the years. My advice for 2021 

  1. Clarify expectations. 
  2. Understand retreat limitations. 
  3. Consider your facilitator.  

    Clarify expectations 

    I’ve seen it all—the rogue board members with conflicts of interest, the executive team members vying for the CEO’s job along with the interim, and a focus on the tactical disguised as the strategic. Group dynamics and process design can undermine or enhance success. The desired outcome? A consensus-based plan of action based on three to five strategic decisions.   

    I encourage you to optimize your approaches to people, processes, and products.  

    • People Take stock of your team. How ready is the group to make consensus-based decisions?  Are there underlying personal agendas that might interfere with group decision-making? Has the team composition changed? How has remote work impacted relationships? Does the group have a track record of success in strategic decision-making? The greater the need to align, the more time required for an effective group process, especially when high-stakes decisions are involved.

    • Process Take a look at your approach. An effective process yields the necessary decisions. Your first task in preparing for success is to get clear on the scope and scale of the decisions at hand. How clear is the group about the choices under consideration? Is everyone up-to-speed on the data? What are the strategic options at hand? Does the team agree upon the implications? Your team might benefit from an enhanced process to create a shared understanding of the data insights and prepare for effective strategy setting and planning

    • Product Give your classic framework a review. Your team may have a tried-and-true plan framework that is updated annually. Given the nature of change in 2020, now is the time to update the planning framework. For example, how well do you appreciate your customers as whole people? Their needs and expectations have likely changed notably, too, and you’ll want to update your assumptions. Now is the time to determine the pre-work required to understand the external context, competitors, and customers. It is also time to review and update your plan document to accelerate success into 2022. 
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