Boards often roll their eyes when embarking on a strategic planning process. Strategy development has earned a reputation for being long, hard, and in the end, more iterative than breakthrough. We often talk about the benefits of strategic planning being both the process – by engaging your most important stakeholders – and the product – the plan itself. Both the process and the product need to be engaging, but too often the process is formulaic, not tailored to the organization, and doesn’t elicit the best thinking from your planning committee.
We are setting out to change that. As creative thinkers, we try to bring that spirit to our work with clients. We structure interactive games that elicit the best thinking from the group. We often bring manipulatives into our meetings because people think smarter and more creatively when they engage all their senses. We have our own custom designed deck of flashcards with powerful questions on them that provoke a deeper level of thinking from the group.
Let’s be clear though – like many of you, we dislike games that infantalize people or don’t have a purpose that serves the agenda of the meeting. Our games are custom designed to engage the group in an interactive experience that either deepens their understanding of a core issue at play, or explores new ideas for solutions to persistent challenges.
We also pay attention to the rhythm of the meeting – meetings should NEVER consist of sitting in the same place for three hours talking as a group. People need to get up and move around the room (again with a purpose that serves the meeting), sit in different places, engage in both large group and small group conversations. When we structure the meetings this way, they engender the best thinking from the group, the strongest conclusions, and a sense of excitement about the process.
Don’t settle for boring planning processes – our complex world demands we bring our best thinking to today’s challenges!