Facilitation and Strategic Planning

Today's economic environment demands that meetings and planning sessions be as efficient and well run as possible.  The cost of travel, personnel time, facility rental and materials are ever on the rise.  Measurable and productive outcomes are a must.  This applies equally to businesses, civic groups or faith based organizations. 

Meetings should be productive, enjoyable, run efficiently, and build organizational morale. While these characteristics may be difficult to measure, they are extremely important. No one wants to attend meetings that are boring or poorly run. Efficient meetings respect people's time while promoting a sense of unity and helping people respect and support one another. Every meeting needs a facilitator, a person who helps the meeting accomplish its goals.  Being a good facilitator is both a skill and an art. It is a skill in that people can learn certain techniques and can improve their ability with practice. It is an art in that some people just have more of a knack for it than others. Facilitating a meeting requires someone to:

  • Understand the goals of the meeting and the organization
  • Keep the group on the agenda and moving forward
  • Involve everyone in the meeting, both controlling the domineering people and dragging out the shy ones
  • Make sure that decisions are made democratically

The facilitator must assure that decisions are made, plans are developed, and commitments are made, but in a manner that is enjoyable for all concerned. A good facilitator is concerned about both a meeting's content and its style.

Strategic planning is an organization's process of defining its direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this course, including its capital and people. Various business analysis techniques can be employed in strategic planning.  Perhaps the most widely utilized method is a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). Strategic planning is the formal consideration of an organization's future course. All strategic planning deals with at least three key issues.

  • What do we do
  • For whom do we do it
  • How do we excel

In many organizations, this is viewed as a process for determining where an organization is going over the next year or more typically 3 to 5 years, although some extend their vision to 20 years.  In order to determine where it is going, the organization needs to know exactly where it stands, then determine where it wants to go and how it will get there. The resulting document is called the strategic plan.

The Clemson Innovation Center has assisted organizations throughout the state in these areas.  To learn more about how we may be able to assist your organization please contact the center at 803-788-5700.