It is possible to run only one strategy workshop if all that is required is to uncover a basic strategic direction for the organisation. However, it is more common to run multiple workshops in order to first surface ideas, options, opinions, and issues and subsequently explore them in greater depth.
The number of people involved in the strategy creation process will also determine how many workshops should be held. When a large number of participants are involved in the process it is necessary to split the group into manageable numbers (10 or less) and run multiple workshops with different groups.
This can also occur when our client wants to involve different groups of people in the strategy creation process. They may, for example, want to involve line managers or people from the ‘front line’ in the process in order to consider different aspects of the business strategy. Here, multiple workshops would be held with each group. Each workshop would focus on different aspects of the strategy that relates to the participants area of expertise and/or knowledge.
Geography can also play a role. For example, where an organisation operates from multiple locations and where it is not feasible to have people meet at a central location then it would be necessary to hold workshops at a number of different locations.
When strategy workshops are run for more than one group of participants we will normally start with the most senior decision makers in the organisation. This enables us to identify the important information – issues, objectives, goals, etc. – and introduce them into subsequent workshops. The fact that we use the Oval Mapping Technique to capture the information generated during the workshops means that we can combine the causal maps generated in each workshop. This allows us to create one integrated map that contains all of the information that is collected from every workshop.
The exact number of workshops that are required to create a robust strategy will vary from organisation to organisation. Consequently, one of the first tasks that we undertake when working with an organisation is to understand what their aims are and who they want to be involved in their strategy development. This allows us to design the strategic intervention and agree the number of workshops, as well as other aspects of the strategy creation process.