An experienced and skilled facilitator can help your organization work through some of the interpersonal and business challenges that often defeat otherwise talented teams.  Business level facilitators can:

  • Help your team achieve new levels of productivity
  • Identify and work through key team dysfunctions
  • Provide techniques to get your team out of the world of “emotional baggage” and into the practice of getting work done
  • Deliver on key business outcomes
  • Start the “cycle of positivity” that’s the hallmark of high-performing teams.

The real value of a good facilitator is what they bring in the moment.  For example, during a discussion when everyone is thinking about the “elephant in the room” but no one wants to talk about it.  There’s also great value in guiding the team towards a firm landing on a number of unique outcomes:

  • Setting goals for the upcoming business year
  • An Action Plan for a key initiative
  • A Strategy Plan
  • A Problem-Solving Plan
  • An Innovation Plan

Facilitation is a sound investment in your company’s ability to meet its goals.  It’s a that helps get teams to:

  • Open up to one another
  • Address hidden agendas
  • Build a common set of goals
  • Establish a level of trust and confidence with one another
  • Deliver results
  • Hold each other accountable for those results

Some organizations have to deal with days filled with back-biting, snide remarks and wasted productivity.  Others are simply looking to take their outstanding teams and move them yet to a new level of performance.  An investment in a facilitated session can help move your organization forward in today’s competitive environment.

Strategy Facilitation

What is strategy? According to the Merriam Webster website it can encompass a wide swath of items. From definition 1 a:

“the science and art of employing the political, economic, psychological, and military forces of a nation or group of nations to afford the maximum support to adopted policies in peace or war”

to a more simplified version in line 2 b:

“the art of devising or employing plans or stratagems toward a goal.”

I think i like the last one best. For those of you who’ve ever had to develop a strategy at work, this line captures the key activities and reason “why” we do it. Typically that “goal” is an objective vital to:

  • Capturing a market opportunity
  • Adding to the sales revenue line
  • Ensuring the company’s survival
  • Carrying forth the business’s competitive advantage in an innovative way

Whatever the case, developing that strategy requires some very purposeful thinking and work. There are scores of strategy development ideas out there. Some are good, some are okay, and some are great. One of the first things to decide on a strategy is scope. Are we making a strategic move to take advantage of a a short-term or immediate opportunity? Or, are we talking a long-term, competitive advantage, own the marketplace kind of strategy? A strategy that truly defines what our company will be.

Short-Term Strategy

This scenario involves moving quickly to identify the key set of objectives and actions around exploiting a particular industry or market opportunity. These key steps here involve the following:

  • Understand your current position and context
  • Perform a SWOT analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats – to better understand what is at stake
  • Create a Porter Five-Forces Model Mind Map for your company and industry – to tease out details and ideas that can make a difference, both gaps and competitive advantages
  • Narrow down the vital few actions you need to take that when completed, position you for success
  • Translate the actions into a plan complete with deadlines, key performance indicators, owners and risks
  • Execute, adjust, and execute again

Long-Term Strategy

Taking on the strategy challenge involves a set of carefully crafted steps for management to undertake. Although a simple set of five tasks, the detail beneath them will ultimately determine a company’s true success.

  • Develop a winning vision or aspiration for the company
  • Decide on the arena(s) where you’ll offer your goods and/or services
  • Put forth how you’ll win
  • Determine what capabilities, skills, and features you’ll need
  • Develop the management process, procedures, and policies you’ll need to succeed

Completing the above steps is just the start of a long-term strategy plan. Once defined, comes the the execution, monitoring, refinement and adjustment (usually to execution shortcomings or changes in the competitive environment).

If you have not done any kind of strategy work in the last 3 to 4 years, you may likely be due for some kind of strategy review. it’s very easy for leaders to get involved in the day-to-day running and problem solving of the workplace. However, it is the strategy development that gives most companies that vision and direction of what to do and where to go.

Problem-Solving Workshop

Organizations may sometimes have a point-in-time problem or pain point that requires quick action. One approach is to use a problem solving workshop to bring all stakeholders together to collaboratively work through to a plan and subsequent solution.

Key here is:

  • Identifying the problem – The WHAT
  • Clearly articulating its importance – The WHY
  • Selecting the right stakeholders to be part of of the solution – The WHO

The workshop focuses the group’s collective wisdom on:

  • Identifying root causes
  • Mitigating those root causes
  • Brainstorming solutions and plans to implement them
  • Also covered, defining the goals for success.

GE Workout

Once a popular technique for solving problems and taking the waste out of organizations, the GE Workout model is finding new relevancy given the recent rise in inflation and the risk of follow-on recession. Workout focuses on making decisions quickly – no, “let’s get some data, analyze, and i’ll get back to you with a decision.” It also values accountability – everyone is depending on everyone else in order for the the Workout to work. Most of all, it’s about delivering timely results that are measurable – let’s see the before and after pictures.

The GE Workout method focuses on the following:

  • Stretch, yourself and the organization
  • Think systems not end-points
  • Think laterally
  • Empower and hold accountable
  • Decide-Fast

Workout does this by employing a very simple but powerful set of steps:

  • Pre-Session – Select Topic and needed attendees and data
  • Plan and Conduct the Workout Session
  • Carry-out the Workout Actions
  • Follow-up, Manage, Deliver Outcomes

There are two critical success factors to any Workout:

  • Leadership urgency and support for the topic at hand and the Workout process
  • Experienced facilitators with relevant domain knowledge and excellent facilitation skills

A good best practice is too fold the identified outcomes into existing management meetings. This way visibility can be provided to all the company’s work efforts.


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