Strategy, development & support for coalitions, associations, organizations and initiatives

I have been facilitating a lot of strategic discussions lately, and it’s been a great opportunity to put pen to paper on our theory for designing strategic conversations. I created the graphic above as a way to think about our approach to facilitating strategic conversations as an ongoing cycle. In each phase of the cycle, we have developed several guiding principles that inform the work of that phase:

Design:

  • Focusing on strengths and assets instead of dwelling on weaknesses and problems
  • Listening to the experts, including those with professional experience and those with lived experience
  • Inclusion of multiple perspectives, often through an interdisciplinary or multi-sector approach
  • Intentional use of structures and methods that maximize engagement and distribute control
  • Making sure the right people are invited to the conversation

Engage:

  • Serving as a guide rather than expert with all the answers
  • Being sure everyone has the opportunity to contribute
  • Being present – our full attention is focused on the task at hand
  • Honoring differences but staying above the line of integrity
  • Utilizing an incremental approach that celebrates accomplishments and seeks out low-hanging fruit
  • Embracing fun and creativity to draw out non-verbal insights

Synthesize:

  • Accurately recording and summarizing insights and records from the conversation
  • Distilling and simplifying with an aim for clarity, not length
  • Being accountable to established deadlines
  • Using an iterative approach that offers the concept of a “shitty first draft”to move the conversation forward
  • Supporting/referring to colleagues when the work that is needed is outside the scope of our expertise

In addition, here are some of our other favorite resources for designing strategic discussions and strategic planning:

What do you think about the Design/Engage/Synthesize framework above? Interested in discussing how our approach could be tailored to support your upcoming strategic conversation? Connect with us via Facebook, Twitter, or drop us a note!

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Woollard Nichols & Associates is an Austin-based consulting firm committed to nurturing social impact through strategy, development & support for coalitions, associations, organizations and initiatives.

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