Harbinger Consultants

Creative Sustainability :: Place, People, Product, Potential, Partnership + Pollinating

FACILITATE | Goal Setting Workshop

Linda recently facilitated a goal setting workshop with a regional development agency, which is in the process of reviewing its regional and strategic planning. The goal setting provided an opportunity for the organisation to consider and refine its strategic direction in line with its vision and mission. It was also intended to help the committee make sense, create meaning and evolve its purpose to meet stakeholder expectations. The organisation has only been in existence for a couple of years and is continuing to evolve, with current energy for consolidating its learnings and direction.

Drawing on frameworks, such as sensemaking, skilled facilitator and Appreciative Inquiry, Harbinger designed a six step process that provided participants with an opportunity to advance the strategic interests of the organisation in creating a picture of the region’s future. Describing it as a ‘gentle process’, Linda said that the intention was to engage the participants, as members of a committee, in an active process of discovery, deliberation and decision making through ‘Six Rs’ drawing on top down/bottom up intelligence gathering and sharing:

  • Read – Briefing notes were distributed to each participant prior to the workshop. These were developed by staff of the organisation drawing on research and stakeholder interviews.
  • Reflect – The participants were provided with opportunities during the workshop to reflect and comment on those briefing notes through conversation and questioning.
  • Write – Drafting preferred goals (in pairs or individuals).
  • Report – Report and pooling the drafts.
  • Refine – Identifying what is most important to the group.
  • Resolve – One or two rounds of deliberation to finalise the goals as best as possible.

The reflect stage is vital for shaping how the group understands its filters and frames for decision making to establish what it is endeavouring to achieve. These processes are strategic thinking exercises, setting the stage for strategic action – i.e. what really matters – the plan is the tool for encapsulating and enabling that.

An important aspect of these kinds of processes is to co-create meaning and purpose without being bogged down in issues. The regional narrative should not just be about issues and this group needed a process to help them move beyond brainstorming, talk and issues to see the whole and their place in it. Regions are complex and it is important that a committee draws on and pools its resources, including the human and relational capital that comprises it, to create the best possible tomorrow for the region and its communities.

A heartening aspect of the process was in feedback from the participants, who commented on the workshop as a positive experience as well as noted its contribution to the positive evolution of their sense of purpose and direction.

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