There are two problems with having strategic planning sessions facilitated by a member of the institution’s leadership team.
The first issue is that is can often times keeps the participants from becoming fully involved in the sessions because they are concerned that their suggestions for improvement could be mistaken for complaints. And they would rather avoid that unnecessary personal pain and suffering.
The second issue is that you lose the input from the person that is facilitating the meeting because they have a significantly different set of responsibilities to focus on during the session.
Those two issues are good cause for seriously considering an experienced outside facilitator for your next strategic planning session. But here are seven benefits to make even a stronger case for working with an outside facilitator.
Impartial & Objective
A trained outside facilitator has no personal agenda to bring to the session and will keep the session moving forward so others that are participating in the session cannot bring their own agenda into the session.
Preparedness & Participation
There’s something about having an outsider brought into the strategic planning sessions that motivates everyone to be extremely well prepared and actively participating in the sessions.
Unlike so many meetings, planning sessions run by an outside facilitator tend to stick to the agenda and time schedules. The reason? The facilitator plays an active role in developing and distributing the agenda and time schedules – something that isn’t all that common with most meetings.
Asks the Right Questions. Asks the Hard Questions.
Every institution has something that no one really likes to talk about or admit – but an outside facilitator isn’t caught up in those issues and is trained at how to discuss them in a professional manner.
And due to their experience, they are able to push back and keep discussions moving forward until the topic on the table has been thoroughly discussed, possible implications are identified and solutions identified.
The experienced facilitator leads strategic planning sessions for a living – which means they have a proven process they bring with them. This helps you save a great deal of time and effort, while making the experience much more effective.
From 60,000 Feet to Ground Level
Experienced facilitators know that you will be evaluating them based on more than the planning session – you will be evaluating them on how the implementation of the plan occurs and the results generated.
That’s why they will focus on making sure your plan can be effectively implemented with your available resources – human, financial and technological.