Where Should Strategy Workshops be Held?
The place where strategy workshops are held can have a big impact on their success.
Strategy Workshops should be held in a neutral location, ideally away from the organisation’s offices. This helps to reduce the possibility of interruption and, more importantly, it moves the participants out of their own environment, or ‘comfort zone’. This means that people are more likely to contribute since there will be less distractions. In addition, working in a different environment encourages more creative thinking, resulting in a more robust strategy.
The size and layout of the room is important as we use the Oval Mapping Technique to quickly generate, capture and structure strategic information. The room needs to be big enough to comfortable accommodate all of the participants (up to ten people). In addition, it must have at least one large wall that is free of any obstructions so that the room can be set up as shown in the diagram. As can be seen, people are seated in a semi-circle facing a wall where they post their statements.
Ideally the venue will have a break-out space in a separate room where people can have refreshments and possibly lunch (depending on the length and timing of the workshop). If this is not possible, it should at least be large enough to accommodate space for the participants to get away from the working area.
Some organisations combine the strategy workshops with team building activities and use the opportunity to have a ‘corporate retreat’ where they book a hotel for a weekend or a long-weekend and the participants get involved with other activities as well as the strategic work.
While this works best for strategic reviews rather than initial strategy development, it is possible to run a full strategic intervention over the space of a long weekend in a single venue. We have done this on a few occasions when the participants have come from a variety of different geographic locations which necessitated using a venue that is relatively central for everyone.