If you’ve ever been involved in a well-run strategy session, be it an overall operational strategy or a more specific product or marketing strategy, you probably had a third-party facilitate the session. Typically the facilitator lays out the ground rules, keeps everybody in check and is adept at moving the discussions forward to ensure that some type of objective is reached.
Most memorable from a strategy session is usually the colorful Post-its hanging on walls or big category posters on each wall and maybe you even recall the hair-brained, wild-card idea that made everyone laugh out loud. What you probably don’t remember is the facilitator.
A good facilitator for strategy sessions should be like the engine in your vehicle – powering you forward but not the focus of your attention. As a driver, your attention needs to be on the road ahead.
A good facilitator will be the engine powering your strategic planning session but should never become the focus of the session. This is not about her experiences, nor is it a time for a facilitator to show how good she is at whatever-it-is she does. The facilitator’s role is to take care of the mechanics while freeing you up to see down the road – of your business.
Facilitators for strategy sessions will understand the scope ahead of time and work with the leadership team to be sure they understand what the overall outcome of the day needs to be. A good facilitator will be focused and prepared and will be able to corral your team, get them focused and direct them to achieve the objective.
One advantage of having an outside facilitator for your strategy session is they can be the bad guy and keep people in line. They can politely and firmly say something “is outside of today’s scope” without sounding like a jerk. Why? Because they are an outsider and outsiders can say things to your team that you as a leader or even their peers can’t as effectively say.
The other advantage of hiring a facilitator to run your strategy session is she isn’t biased by the different personalities, dynamics, and agendas that are present in your company. A professional facilitator doesn’t answer to you as the President or to The Board, nor does she have to later manage or discipline a direct report.
A facilitator’s role is about only two things: helping you run an efficient and productive strategy session and achieving the desired outcome. That outcome looks different for every organization. For one group it might be to develop a launch plan for a new product, for another group it might be to determine a new direction altogether and for others, it might be to get some type of action plan decided on, complete with timetable and deliverables assigned to team members.
Whatever upcoming strategy session you have be sure you hire the best person for your organization who can effectively facilitate and that means one who is experienced productive brainstorming or strategy sessions.
Vision Force Marketing has experienced facilitators who not only understand strategy and the nuance of how to create an open environment for an effective brainstorming session, our facilitators understand personalities, team dynamics and how to control a room.
Want the most effective marketing strategy session? Call us today and tell us about your upcoming strategic marketing or strategic planning session and we’ll walk you through how we can be sure you’ll spend your time effectively. Call +1 888.723.7194 to schedule.