Solutions come from discussions. Strategic solutions develop from structured discussions.
For strategic planning, a facilitator is like the conductor of an orchestra – does not write the music or play the instruments, but does bring it all together for the desired result.
The facilitator is an asset to a critical planning session bringing their experience as a resource when wanted and keeping the session on track – here’s the top five elements they contribute to the session:
Free up the Boss: No one can both participate and conduct the same event – this applies for the boss as well…with a facilitator, the leader of the organization is freed up to participate in the conversation, providing relevant information while hearing the views of others
Additional Experience: When asked, the facilitator can share their knowledge and experience about similar situations to stimulate discussion or clarify the concept or activity
Clarity of Contributions: The facilitator can probe the participants for more detail and expected outcome, aiding in the understanding of a concept without participants feeling they are being challenged or the contribution is being dismissed
Recording Intentions: By recording key points from the meeting on flip charts (or by comparable means) and reading these notes back later, the facilitator can engage the participants in focusing the important elements into goals and action statements as the outcome of the session
Managing Pace & Time: The facilitator must move the event along at an appropriate pace to remain on track and cover the material in the time allotted – like the clock-keeper in a basketball game.
A facilitator is responsible for running the meeting – executing it’s operation and logistics – but the participants are responsible for results. A facilitator is not a direct participant in the content of the session, except when asked for information or outside experience.
Following a strategic planning session I recently facilitated – the CEO spoke about the day this way: Done well, a facilitator is a huge value-add to getting the best results from a critical planning session – including recording new goals and action items – and the participants feel their contributions are integral to the results.