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Is Your Strategic Plan Stuck?

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Strategic planning is traditionally a highly rational and intellectual process.  It is important business and should be treated as such.  At the same time, many strategic planning processes tend to fall short of the aspirations and expectations leaders and process participants envision, in great part due to the tendency organizations have to omit any creativity and authentic engagement from the process.

Organizations interested in trying a more innovative approach to visioning sessions can engage in facilitated collaging workshops, where participants use magazine images to create a collage that represents their vision for the organization.

A more creative approach provides access to ideas and possibilities that are often left untapped by following more traditional processes. Outcomes of the collaging workshop include creation of a rich inventory of language and ideas that are then translated into more traditional strategic planning documents and structures.

Participants use images to envision a future state.  While each workshop is different the facilitated process includes the following steps:

  • Workshop participants use magazines to create a collage.  They are asked to make sure there is no blank space left on the folder they use as a base, and they are asked to not use any words or text.  They have 30 to 60 minutes to create their individual collages (or small teams can create a collage together).
  • After creating individual montages, each team member takes no more than five minutes to share with the team about the images they chose for their collage.  The facilitator captures these words on flip chart paper and participants begin to sense a bigger picture emerge as a result of the collaborative process.
  • The team then identifies common words and themes.
  • These words and themes are used to create an inventory from which a vision statement is developed.
  • Depending on the size of the group, teams of two or three then work together to draft vision statements that are then shared with the larger team and used to create a single vision statement.

As the process is facilitated, key ideas and distinctions are captured and can be used to articulate strategic goals, objectives, etc.  Many organizations find this process helps surface implicit values that are made explicit and incorporated as part of the overall strategic planning effort.

(Image via xtock/Shutterstock.com)

Sarah Agan is a regular contributor to Excellence in Government. She has spent the past 17 years working with clients across the federal government with a focus on helping individuals and organizations thrive.

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