How to Run a Great Strategic Initiatives Offsite Work Session

changeMany organizations embrace the need for their leaders to convene offsite, for a day or two, in order to advance their ability to achieve a desired future state and to improve group performance by crystallizing and preparing to launch one or more Strategic Initiative.  The best organizations know that to achieve optimum results such a session is best hosted by a trained outside facilitator and that pre-meeting data collection and preparation are key to success.

What follows is a POAD that has been used hundreds of times to successfully advance the growth and performance of all types of organizations including large and small commercial companies from all industry sectors, government agencies, health facilities, schools, religious organizations, non-governmental organizations, and non-profits.

Purpose:

  • Articulate leader’s vision and secure alignment towards its achievement.
  • Clarify the context for Strategic Initiatives key to achieving long-term performance and growth goals consistent with leadership’s vision.
  • Build rapport across participants.
  • Improve: trust, track to highest-and-best-use role clarity, performance, communication, sense of inclusion, and probability of retention between and among session participants.

Outcomes:

  • Consensus with respect to perception of Current State, Case for Change, Target State, what must be done, and why what must be done may be difficult to do, for each Strategic Initiative.
  • Groundwork for implementation of Strategic Initiatives and an approach to Governance that is understood and agreed upon by all participants.
  • Participants know each other better and have evolved further as an effective working group; are more committed than ever to the group’s mission, leadership, and to doing all they can to maximally advance the organization’s growth and performance.

Approach:

The IntelliVen approach to a Strategic Initiative Offsite is to:

  • Collect data in advance from participants on their view of the organization’s IntelliVen Change Frameworkcurrent context and its Strategic Initiatives through a structured electronic survey and real-time, in-person, telephone or Skype interviews, using the IntelliVen Change Framework as a template;
  • Organize, tally, analyze, and prepare to share context and Strategic Initiative data with the CEO, and then with participants, without attribution;

The process builds trust between team members; clarifies goals, roles, and expectations; and advances the team’s individual and group intelligence, knowledge, and experience with Organization Development tools, methods, and techniques used on themselves and on their organization’s business.  That is, team building exercises are shared experiences working on, instead of just in, the business.

Three work streams achieve these ends:

Work stream I: Review background material.
Goal: Understand current circumstances, perspectives, and work-to-date.

Selected activities:

  • Collect and review background material, including records from past initiatives related to this one; organization charts, performance metrics, external management presentations, internal communications including newsletters, board presentations and notes; participant bios and performance goals for; etc.;
  • Meet with lead Organization Development executive, if other than the CEO (e.g., VP Human Resources), to review and understand past initiatives and what was learned from those experiences, establish him/her as a key stakeholder and point of communication and guidance for this effort.

Work stream II: Collect data from participants on the context for Strategic Initiatives.

Goal: To understand: key stakeholder points of view, the gaps between current and desired perspectives, how effectively the management team currently functions, and the implications for facilitating a work session.

Selected activities:

  • Draft and send correspondence from the CEO to the management team that launches the ramp-up to the offsite and introduces the facilitation team, approach, and what each participant needs to do in order to get the most from the experience.
  • Prepare and conduct electronic survey and conduct a 60-minute phone interview with each participant (including the CEO).
  • Organize, tally, and analyze survey and interview data; prepare for presentation and review with CEO.

Work stream III: Facilitate offsite work session.

Goal: Share collected data, develop consensus around participants’ view of the context for change; build public will to achieve a specific targeted future state, and begin to develop steps needed for its accomplishment; get to know each other better, learn to work better together; advance knowledge, understanding, and experience with intentional Organization Development.

Selected activities:

  • Share, react to, review input collected on: Current State; Case for Change; Target State; what must be done to achieve Target State; what will be hard about doing what needs to be done.
  • Facilitate discussion to:
    • Build collaboration, understanding, desire, and commitment to act toward vision accomplishment.
    • Consolidate and crystallize what must be done into Strategic Initiatives that, if implemented, will achieve the Target State.
    • Prioritize Strategic Initiatives.
    • Assign who will take the lead on each Strategic Initiative.
    • For each Strategic Initiative, invite its assigned leader to preside over a discussion of the following points with the rest of the team (approximately 20 minutes each):
      • Opportunity; including Current State, Case for Change, Target State;
      • Governance including reviews, communication, metrics, and timeline.
      • Approach (i.e., who will do what, when) and resources required;
      • Current and sought after behaviors;
      • Key considerations.

Deliverables:

  • Completed Change Framework for each Strategic Initiative and an outline of the approach to implementation and governance.
  • Meeting record of insights, decisions, and action items.
  • Next steps.

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