You’ve laid out the ground rules. You’ve set the expectations for your team’s offsite strategy sessions. Yet, you find your team ignoring the rules and diving into the weeds. Instead of strong, strategic conversations about how to achieve your organization’s vision, your team opts to have heated debates about low-level processes or operational issues within their respective teams.
Keeping your team thinking at the right elevation is key during your strategy sessions. Otherwise, it just unravels into an unproductive debate on how to solve simpler operations issues.
This is something we commonly see during strategy sessions. Sometimes, even if you lay the ground rules and set the conversation, getting your team to fly at the right elevation can feel impossible. Here are three tips we find helpful in refocusing groups during planning sessions:
- Add a visual cue of what you’re expecting your team to accomplish. While this may seem obvious, adding a visual reminder like a poster or headline can help you and your facilitators stay focused on the high-level questions at hand.
- Have a Parking Lot and use it. Although many view the Parking Lot as the place for bad ideas, the opposite is true. Using the Parking Lot allows you to capture ideas, which may not be prevalent to the conversation you’re having now, and log them away for later discussion. This way, no good thinking gets lost.
- Prompt your team with the question “How can your work directly impact (insert thing that needs to get done).” It gives each team member the opportunity to provide valuable insight on what they can do to impact the few high-level things you’re trying to accomplish.
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While having a concise agenda and clearly articulated priorities for strategy sessions are the most powerful things you can do to keep your team thinking at the right level, using these three tips can help you pivot and avoid a common pitfall of strategy sessions. You’ve brought the experts you need to the table, but it’s important to make sure you’ve leveraged their expertise and thinking as you build your organizational plan for the year.