Gathering Strategic Information
Obtaining and managing information, much of which is complex, is the foundation of building a robust business strategy.
Obtaining information is a crucial part of developing a strategy for your business. The majority of this information will come from the key people in your organisation and it is important to ensure that the information provided is both accurate and comprehensive.
Consequently, it is critical that the processes used to acquire the information is both robust and thorough. We have developed processes to ensure that the people involved in strategy development feel secure so that they are open and honest with their thoughts, views and ideas.
There are two ways to obtain the information that is used in the strategy creation and business planning processes. In both cases the information is captured and then analysed to identify and structure the key components of the business strategy.
A group workshop is a very effective way to kick start the strategy creation process and are useful when a broad scope of information is required from the key people in a relatively short timeframe.
The traditional format of meetings tend to be ’round the table’ where people are effectively facing each other. This can sometimes create an adversarial environment. It can also result the people with most power and/or, influence dominating the meeting so their point of view will be heard over others. This type of environment is not conducive to creating a strategy based on consensus.
Our strategy workshops are designed to encourage people to participate fully in the process by ensuring that no one person is has more influence than any other.
This enables everyone to contribute fully and ensures that relevant ideas, issues and opinions are surfaced. At the core of our process is Oval Mapping which captures and structures the information generated by the group, as well as generating consensus around the emerging strategy.
As the name suggests, strategic interviews are one-to-one interviews that are held with the people who are involved with the strategy development process.
The interview takes the form of a discussion about their ideas and opinations about the future of the organisation, as well as where it is now. The points raised in the discussion are captured by our facilitator as a causal map which ensures we capture both content and context of what the say.
This process uncovers information about the individual’s aspirations for the business, as well as their concerns. Consequently, this can be a powerful tool in the strategy development process.
Individual interviews are useful when a greater depth of information is required on a person’s views or on a particular subject matter or areas of the business. They are also useful when anonymity is an important issue (where the culture does not promote open discussion, for example).
We are likely to use both of these methods in a strategy creation project. The order I which they are carried out will depend on the organisation, its culture and the level of detail our client wants to go into.
The most common method would be to start with group workshops to generate high level ideas about the where the organisation will be in the future, how it will get there and what way get in the way. These group workshops would then be followed with strategic interviews to obtain more detail about where the ideas, issues and options raised in the workshops.
In some cases, we will start with strategic interviews to allow people to express themselves freely. The information gathered in the interviews would then be collated for further review in a group workshop.
There is, however, no ‘one size fits all’ solution. We always work with our client to design a strategy creation project that best fits the needs of the organisation.