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What Are the Best Tips for Strategic Planning Facilitation?

D. Nelson
D. Nelson

Strategic planning is the act of creating long term goals and methods for achieving goals. This kind of planning usually also contains methods for testing the effectiveness of strategies. Unlike business planning, which usually pertains to individual projects, strategic planning often affects all of an organization's operations and employees. One of the most valuable tips for strategic planning facilitation is to go into a process with realistic expectations. In other words, participants in planning should not go into a process expecting to solve all of an organization's problems by developing a plan that is perfect and which does not require revision.

Many planning consultants and experts believe that strategic planning facilitation is effective when all parties are made to understand that processes are more important than the plans or strategies themselves. When strategic planning facilitation is successful, all participants are able to express their ideas and their reservations. They are also able to agree on a strategy that they understand can be adjusted as problems occur and as new challenges and opportunities arise.

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A professional performing strategic planning facilitation can benefit from clarifying who is involved in planning and in which capacity. For instance, planning might require use a committee that actually designs a strategy. Another committee might be responsible for researching and providing intelligence to planners. A third committee might be required for reading over plans and revising them before they are implemented. Review committees might be established to judge results of plans after they have been in effect for some time.

Another good tip for strategic planning facilitation is to schedule planning meetings right away. Busy professionals might find it appealing to take large amounts of time between meetings so that they can concentrate on other projects. When planners take more than two weeks off between planning sessions, however, participants tend to lose momentum. Large gaps of time between meetings can also lead to participants losing direction.

Individuals performing strategic planning facilitation should also set a time frame for when planning is completed. This depends on factors such as the size of an organization and committees' experiences with large scale planning in the past. Participants who have never engaged in strategic planning before might need a little more time to get used to a process. If strategic planning is a regular part of an organization's cycle, however, participants might immediately understand their roles and find it easy to communicate with others and to put an informed plan into writing.

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