Strategic planning is a tribal tonic ailing many woes. Sure, in its most conventional sense it’s an exercise for building a collaborative roadmap aligning people with a collective vision and a path for achieving it. But often it’s more than that. Sometimes, the real underlying driver simply is fostering a collective shared sense of purpose for building moral, recognition, and team-oriented spirit.
As a leader, is your staff disengaged? Has turnover in management created uncertainty? Are good people nose-down going about their daily tactical routine deflated and demoralized? Is it time to create a little buzz and super-charge staff energy levels?
Sounds like a perfect time for buzz sessions.
Buzz sessions are short, focused, cross-functional team sessions designed to get people involved, voices heard, and ideas captured for feeding great content into the strategic planning process. Here are some tips we’ve found helpful to ignite the spark:
- Get everyone involved. Include all staff or just a department. The idea is to get the group together. A manageable, interactive group is usually between 10-15 participants. Make it cross-functional so different perspectives are brought to the table. Two-hour sessions are usually sufficient.
- Hit while the iron’s hot. Depending on the size of your staff or department it’s likely multiple buzz sessions will be scheduled. Don’t stretch it out over weeks. Hit hard, hit fast. Double up on sessions daily to get through all of them quickly. Experiences will be shared informally among staff, which is the whole idea. The intent is to create a buzz!
- Keep it structured. Keep buzz sessions consistent. Every session should be structured similarly, fly at the same elevation, and cover the same topics. One we’ve found particularly useful is a good interactive group discussion on what does success look like five years from now (vision.) What does it look like from an operational, market, or even a customer perspective? Then, conduct a SWOT exercise and synthesize the input for clarity and consensus in-session.
- Make it constructive: Comparing and isolating areas of consensus among all the groups is powerful ammunition for building strategic priorities and potential organizational goals, which is solid ammunition to feed the planning process.
As with any facilitated working group session it’s important to clearly communicate before, during, and after conducting buzz sessions. What is the purpose? How will it contribute to the planning process? What’s expected of participants after the buzz session? Keeping people informed, involved, and creating a vehicle for voices to be heard is what make buzz sessions a powerful tool in your arsenal.