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Why your company needs a strategy facilitator

If you’re wondering what a strategy facilitator is and whether your company needs one, picture this. You’re in a strategy meeting and the following scenario is playing out.

Steve has identified the best and seemingly only way for the company to meet its long-term goals. He is trying with much energy to convince the rest of the group of his plans. Barry has his jaw set in a firm, grim line. Lebo is shaking her head and muttering. Don and Vashti are nodding with a glazed look in their eyes. Susan has zoned out and is playing with her cellphone.

As precious minutes tick by, the group keeps talking in circles, comes no closer to a meaningful set of solutions and everyone — including Steve — walks away frustrated at the end of the session.

If this sounds familiar, then it’s time to bring in a strategy facilitator – a qualified, experienced strategist who can facilitate the strategy process to make it collaborative, smooth and effective.

Some argue that a strategy facilitator is an unnecessary cost for what should be an internally-run initiative. But an ineffective strategy, or one that ignores major red flags and / or opportunities, can cost considerably more. So what’s the rationale for bringing someone in?

  1. To provide an unbiased approach. There’s no such a thing as a truly objective approach, but a strategy facilitator comes in “clean”. He’s unfettered by office politics and existing power dynamics. He or she casts a fresh set of eyes on the strategy and can provide clear, unbiased opinion and direction. No one need wonder if the strategy facilitator has a hidden agenda or is hoping to score brownie points with manager X by making a certain suggestion. Those involved in the development of the strategy can trust that a call is made because it is truly deemed to be in the best interest of the business.
  2.  To bring the best out of the employees who are creating the strategy. In a session without a strategy facilitator, Barry stonewalls Steve, Vashti’s too scared to call him out on something she knows more about than he does, and Susan’s zoned out completely. A session with a strategy facilitator sees Steve contributing ideas rather than controlling the session, controls any potential conflict between Steve and Barry by creating a neutral platform on which to receive and facilitate ideas, draws out Vashti’s concerns and helps her feel safe enough to air them, and gets everyone excited a motivated enough to engage meaningfully in the discussion. Overall, the strategy facilitator breaks down communication barriers and elicits the most productive energy and responses possible from the group.
  3. To alert the strategist to potential pitfalls and opportunities. If the strategy board room was an airport, the strategy facilitator would play the role of air traffic controller. He doesn’t create the traffic, but he directs its flow. His vantage point allows him to warn the pilots (or strategists) of things they can’t see for themselves. He arranges the flight schedule around inclement weather and the flight of other aeroplanes. From a strategic standpoint, his experience and perspective enable him to warn  of opportunities and threats that the strategists may not have thought of. He also helps them position themselves advantageously against competitors, and helps them to shape their strategy with the insight of the long term in mind.

If your company could benefit from a strategy facilitator, The Finance Team can assist. We have a network of qualified, experienced associates who can provide your company with the insight and support you need for the period of time that you need it. We are also able to provide strategy advisors on a retained basis, helping your business to proactively manage your strategy process on an ongoing, sustainable basis.

Image credit: brefigroup.co.uk

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