Many companies make a bad decision even before their first strategic session – they choose to facilitate it themselves. Internal facilitation can cause the participants to not fully disclose their thoughts, keep to themselves more and don’t fully become engaged or challenged during the process. If you are considering facilitating your strategic planning session yourself, good luck; however, if you are ready to take a leap into the process and get honest feedback, innovative ideas and forward-thinking concepts, then we’d like to reinforce the benefits of using an outside facilitator:
- Allows Executive Leadership to be part of the process – the company’s success will be driven by “empowered” people and a team culture. Outside facilitation creates an “even” playing field, allowing all individuals to participate.
- Impartiality and objectivity – personal agendas have been a detriment to many organizations. Keeping the discussions on the strategy controls this.
- Increased accountability – everyone has the same expectations, including the Executive Leadership.
- Increased discipline to adhere to time schedules – pressure to meet commitments increases with measurement and when someone from the outside is involved.
- Ability to probe sensitive areas – external facilitators keep these discussions on a professional level.
- Ability to share best practices of other companies – because we work across industries and with many clients we learn what works and what does not.
Not all facilitators are right for your company either, so consider the following characteristics when choosing a facilitator:
- Ability to challenge each participate to think strategically (and able to corral them when they get off subject)
- Not afraid to ask the hard questions – and receive challenging, and at times critical, feedback
- Will push the envelope with your team… so issues arise and are addressed that may slow the process or delay innovation
- Have an understanding of your industry, size of company and initiatives that will help you succeed.