Most of our clients want and need strategic planning as a part of any facilitation work that we do. Those plans can be simple Word documents done in a one day retreat, or a full strategic plan complete with inclusive community engagement and months of work. Either way, they all have the same foundation - these three key questions:
1) Where are we now? The current status
2) Where are we going? The future desired state
3) How will we get there? The specific details that will create success
Since our tagline is Strategic.Sustainable.Success. you might imagine how focused we are on making the facilitation meet the needs of the client, as well as ensuring the work we create can actually be implemented. That's why, no matter what other questions we ask during our facilitation process, we make sure to cover the foundation.
So how exactly could you facilitate these questions? Since these foundational questions are often asked early in the process, it's a great time to brainstorm with the entire group - and we always start with the positive. That means when we ask the strategic planning team "Where are we now?" we start with "What's working well right now for you?" and then we ask "What might not be working as well for you?". Since most of our work with client involves interviews and surveys prior to the actual strategic planning meeting, we will have feedback and opinions to share from that work if a jump start is needed. Tip: most clients aren't surprised by the feedback and it usually matches across the board with the brainstorming.
The next step is usually taking that longer list and asking some more strategic questions:
What from this list do you want to PRESERVE moving forward?
What from this list will be CRITICAL to your success?
What from this list is the biggest BARRIER/OBSTACLE?
What are some solutions to overcoming this challenge?
We hope that these questions inspire you to ask some of your own, and we'd love to hear from you what ideas you would have - as facilitators, we all learn from each other.