We’re big proponents of the value of bringing together a diverse group of people with varied creative thinking skills for strategic planning workshops within organizations and communities.
We’re only proponents, however, when there are specific reasons and benefits from the time, effort, and investment to bring a group together in person. Often, however, executives jump too quickly to flying everyone into one place for a big strategic planning meeting. Without defined objectives and the proper timing, however, a big in-person meeting can be a huge waste for everyone.
When discussing a strategic planning or innovation strategy engagement with a client, we use the graphic below to design our recommended approach. We use multiple ways to gather input to ensure that by the time we bring a bigger group together for an in-person visioning workshop we’ve fully exploited more efficient, lower-risk, lower-investment formats to engage participants and solicit input for strategic planning.
We’re increasingly incorporating online collaboration workshops to do more of the work typically done through in-person visioning workshops. Sometimes they proceed an in-person strategy planning meeting, but not always. Sometimes we use online collaboration within an in-person strategic planning workshop. There really are all kinds of possibilities.
What’s great about mixing both in-person and online workshops is they allow us to efficiently create white space, i.e. time between coming up with ideas and working with ideas to allow for better organizing, categorizing, and analyzing them. These are all tough to do when you have a group of executives all together; these activities take time. And when you’re limited to having the group all together only for a day, it’s time you can’t usually afford to waste.
3 Ways Online Collaboration Works to Deliver Big Benefits
Here are three ways we’ve used online collaboration workshops to create white space and efficiently incorporate employee creative thinking skills:
Using Online Collaboration for an Entire Strategic Planning Process
We completed a transportation company’s entire strategic planning process via four 90-minute online collaborations over a couple of weeks. Participants were in multiple places and varied for each collaboration; that made it inefficient to bring everyone together. As we told the CEO that hired The Brainzooming Group, he saved the entire investment for strategic planning by eliminating travel and lodging for participants!
Addressing Project Planning with Online Collaboration
Working with five separate groups for an industrial manufacturer changing a major manufacturing process, we identified more than six hundred tactics for the multi-year initiative during a two-day in-person workshop. After documenting the tactics, we used online collaboration so the primary project team could efficiently and collaboratively identify timing for the six-hundred tactics in less than four hours – all online.
Having Sales Leaders Vet and Expand Ideas
We created a fast-paced half-day in-person workshop for a small group of sales and marketing leaders at an animal pharma company. They developed a sales strategy and associated messaging for the upcoming year. Afterward, we used an online collaboration to introduce strategies to its top-performing sales people. They provided input on the biggest impact ideas and how to enrich other strategies through additional creative thinking exercises.
Discover How Online Collaboration Boosts Progress
In each of these cases, online collaboration provided greater efficiency and participation than could have ever been accomplished using offline techniques or getting everyone in the same room.