Whenever a group comes together to work on a problem or issue, the group creates a web of interaction. Sometimes that web tends to have an emphasis on the most vocal and outgoing members of the group, and the less vocal do not contribute as much as they have the potential to offer.
A neutral facilitator can design and run a process that allows all group members to focus on the problem or issue at hand. A facilitator’s job is to make the group’s work easy and to ensure that all voices are heard.
A group may want a facilitator when…
- It has a difficult or complex issue to address and the group members want to focus on the problem at hand (and not have to manage the process as well).
- It wants to do an annual action plan.
- It wants to assess or evaluate the past year’s work.
- It wants to do a multi-year strategic plan, which addresses the barriers to moving toward desired goals.
- There is conflict in the group and it is difficult for the group to reach agreement.
Facilitated meetings can range from two hours to a two-day strategic planning session.
It is a good practice to choose an outside facilitator when you want
- to reach a consensus;
- to have everybody on board;
- to elicit the group’s best ideas;
- to re-energize and recommit the group;
- to focus solely on the issue or problem;
- to have someone else take care of the process of running the meeting.
What is a Strategic Plan?
A good strategic plan has a vision for where you want to be in two to five years. (Some groups do a strategic plan for up to ten years, but change is so constant and fast these days that it is getting harder to imagine ten years out.)
In the completion of a strategic planning process you have a consensus around what your key areas of work are. You have clearly identified all the barriers of getting to your vision or desired outcome. You have four strategic directions and a clear action plan for each direction which tells you who is going to do what by when each quarter of one year.
Ideally, the four action plans that emerge from your strategic plan become part of your agenda at your regular meetings. These plans will get adjusted as you move through the year and head in the direction of your vision.
Components of a Strategic Plan
- a planning horizon of two to five years out;
- a vision;
- consensus on key areas of work;
- identification of barriers;
- four strategic directions;
- a one year action plan for each strategic direction; and
- action plan progress on the agenda at regular meetings.