When I meet with clients for the first time, they generally have an idea of what they want to do and often it’s very conceptual in nature. I start by asking about the overall goal and every meeting is part of a series of meetings relating to an overall organizational goal. Most meetings have a product, such as an action plan, a list or an agreement.
Then, we look at the context in the environment to determine which events will have an impact on the meeting. I ask about team roles and the environment for the meeting, which is an often overlooked, but important part of the process.
The next step in a planning session is to select a decision strategy, agree upfront how a decision will be made and then agree on a process to achieve the outcome, identifying how the object will be obtained. Participants might brainstorm, review, list, discuss, select or some other process. This is where your facilitator provides a lot of value, selecting the most efficient and effective process to achieve the outcome.
We then build the agenda, which is the deliverable of the planning session. They take all of the previous steps to build the agenda, listing the amount of time, the topic, the process and the leader of each piece of the session.
Many of our clients are surprised at the amount of effort and involvement that’s needed to plan and coordinate the session, but if you remember the adage, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, you can plan and create an extraordinarily successful session.