When creating plans for the future – it is vital to have a ‘stractegy’ rather than a ‘strutegy’, in my view.
A ‘strutegy’ tends to live only on the (often glossy) printed page and usually ends up at the back of a filing cabinet somewhere. A ‘stractegy’ on the other hand lives in activity, being fully supported by all those who have an investment in shaping the future. There are various ways to create ‘stractegies’ but in my opinion, events which bring together all the key stakeholders (known as getting the ‘whole system’ in the room) can be remarkably effective. With shrewd preparation and careful design of the process the optimal mix of commitment (from all those who care, can and know about shaping the future), complexity (so that all the issues that need to be addressed are) and creativity (so that fresh and vibrant ways are innovated to address the challenges being faced).
Whole system events (or 'big meetings') work extremely well when you are seeking to create plans that you want people to implement robustly (are there any other kind of plans?). To ensure that the right approach for the big meeting is selected (there are various frameworks that can be used as a starting point for the design), the four ‘P’s’ need to be addressed:
- Purpose – including clarifying the impact and outcomes you wish for from the event – what do you want it to achieve and produce?
- Process – including defining the schedule and the way in which the event is run – for example deciding the objectives, length and number of the time slots for various workshops
- People – including resolving what information to give people in advance so that they come as best prepared as possible to make use of the event
- Place – including sorting out all the logistics around access, managing the working space, use of technology, recording the outputs and so forth.
Events such as these are hugely effective as building a ‘strategic community’ of people all engaged with making the future happen. Moreover everyone involved benefits by building new networks, creating trust and breaking down old barriers, developing existing relationships and gaining new insights into the challenges ahead. The plans do not need to be issued or communicated – as everyone was involved & engaged at their creation.