Today, virtually anything you can imagine doing on your own is a simple Google search away. Want to know how to install new tile in your bathroom? Need to learn how to replace your car’s broken headlight? Curious how to lay sod in your back yard? The questions are limitless, and the answers are nearly instantaneous.
But just because you can do something yourself doesn’t always mean you should.
Take strategic planning, for example. We have experienced strategy creation in many different settings using various approaches, and we can confidently assert that the best strategic plans are created when an outside facilitator leads a team through a proven process.
Here are 9 reasons to use an outside strategic planning facilitator to improve your company’s strategy and performance.
1. Everyone participates, no one dominates
At Navigate the Journey, we offer a strategic planning process that combines facilitation, installation and coaching to help a leader’s vision for their company be shared with, owned by and executed in full by their entire team. The first step of the process is a two-day strategic planning session, where we establish ground rules, including “everyone participates and no one dominates.” Taking two days out from billable client work is a big investment of your company’s time and money. Everyone involved in the planning session is in the room for a reason — their opinion, thoughts and insights matter, and we want to hear them. As trained facilitators, we know how to encourage extroverts and introverts to share their ideas.
2. Your team owns the plan it creates
Our strategic planning process is behaviorally sound. At its core, the process is about teamwork and team members respecting each other’s wisdom. Breakthroughs come when teams work together horizontally, not within functional silos. As we just mentioned, we ensure that each person’s voice is heard — and respected. If this happens correctly, a team develops the attitude that, “This is our plan. We created it, not some consultant creating a plan for us.”
The process is facilitated in a way that leads to:
Self-discovery within a team
Greater ownership of the plan
Increased understanding of and respect for each person in the room
And ultimately, greater levels of success across the business
3. You benefit from our proven process
Owners of entrepreneurial companies are busy with a wide variety of issues. The last thing they need to worry about is researching a do-it-yourself approach to strategic planning. Many of these processes don’t work — they waste everyone’s time and don’t allow a team to unite around a strategic plan. Our process has been developed and refined over several decades and has proven its power and efficacy across all types of industries and organization, from start-ups to large, established companies.
4. Our approach is tailored for entrepreneurial companies
Entrepreneurial companies need to utilize a proven process that will work for their size and stage. As we began to specialize in the working with entrepreneurial companies, we honed and refined what worked, what didn’t work and what we found was necessary for entrepreneurial businesses to find success. We created other exercises to ensure the particularities for success for entrepreneurial companies were woven through our strategic planning process.
5. We identify the unique issues your team must act on
Effective owners should always look outside their company for great advice. But there is a limit to what external people can do to ensure continued and greater success at your company. We believe the answers that lead to significant breakthroughs and success frequently reside within your team. Such insights just need to be drawn out of your team members — after all, no one knows your company better than your team. Through our strategic planning process, we strive to bring teams to breakthrough levels of thinking. This is not a cookie-cutter process. What works for one team doesn’t always work for another. Continually, though, we see company teams unlock more potential by going through this process.
6. You learn from our objectivity and outsider’s perspective.
We interact with owners ahead of time, so we get some insight into the business and their objectives, but for the most part we enter the strategic planning process with a blank slate. We listen to people’s tone and what they say (or do not say). We watch body language. We also observe how team members react to one another in order to arrive at a more objective assessment of the business.
7. We discover the last 10% of the truth
A strategic planning process is only as good as the truth that is discovered. That is why we tell teams upfront that we are on the hunt for the last 10% of the truth. We continually reinforce we want 100% of the truth to come out during this process so we can create the best possible strategic plan for the company. Before meeting with team members, we encourage the owner to give them full permission to be completely candid. The participants are often asked about their reasoning and the “why” behind a statement they made. Truth and breakthroughs are usually found buried a few layers below an initial response. As outside facilitators, we can ask questions and set up candid and constructive conversations around issues that are more difficult to resolve between colleagues in the office during a normal workweek.
8. The leader’s vision is shared with and owned by the team
Company founders who come to us usually ask for help when they realize what got them where they are won’t get them where they want to go. For us as facilitators, we need to understand what the owner sees in the company’s future, from ideal size to type of work to other defining characteristics. By solidifying the owner’s vision, and communicating that vision, it is then possible to have team members more effectively create and execute a strategic plan.
9. Strategy execution is built into strategy creation
As facilitators, we are mindful that the process must lead to action and execution. We guide the team to conclude the two-day process with the creation of What’s Important Now (“WIN”) teams that execute the strategy moving forward. We encourage you to consider unlocking more of your team’s potential by using an outside facilitator for your strategic planning sessions — as well as for coaching and accountability — to ensure your company’s strategic plan is executed.
Visit navigatethejourney.com and schedule a call with us for a complimentary Company, Team or Leader diagnostic.
About the Author
Tom is a Professional EOS Implementer™ and the CEO of Navigate the Journey, a firm that specializes in helping the owners of entrepreneurial companies improve at the company, team and individual leader levels.