I facilitate two distinctly different types of offsite workshops. One focused on group dynamics and the processes people use for working together. One focused on business strategy. If the group are feeling brave we might mix the two together.
During the business strategy workshops we’ll define the general areas where resources are to be deployed – let’s call these goals. Supporting these goals we then scope out activities and specific outcomes.
What I see a lot is that groups find it easier to decide which business activities to do – put in an incentive scheme, select a new marketing agency, reorganise the Southern division – than to decide what they want to achieve.
A facilitator friend once named this the tyranny of the action plan. Groups often scurry around to complete a plan at the end of a workshop as proof that the event was somehow useful. But, it’s a mistake.
As a personal example it’s like having a vague goal like ‘get in better shape’. We immediately jump to decide on activities to support this goal, which might be ‘diet’ and ‘go to a gym’. The trouble is that neither of these activities ensures the achievement of the goal.
It’s far better to have specific outcomes, ‘reduce weight by 12Kg’ and ‘complete a 20 minute walk without being breathless’. Then we can decide upon and design the best activities for us, with our unique strengths and resources, to achieve them.
There is discipline in making our minds up what we want … before jumping into activities. The two biggest benefits are:
- The process of groups agreeing specific outcomes leaves them feeling responsible and empowered. For example, in our business we might want to – increase Southern division sales by 7%, get 20% of new business leads via email marketing, reduce staff overheads by 4%.
- Resource allocation moves toward being accountability based. It becomes an investment decision not a political one. We start using strengths and resources to achieve common goals, not simply to complete the tasks we’ve been allotted.
Next time you have a meeting notice how easily people agree on activities to do, while avoiding the accountability of specific outcomes. Is this why your group fails?
The bottom line
Get real: Activities cost money and take up time and resources. What specific outcome do you expect in return?
Get prepared: At your next meeting prepare to ask questions that elicit specific outcomes.
Get savvy: Remember some is not a number, soon is not a timescale.
Thanks as always for reading, please consider sharing: