Forward thinking firms realize how important their Strategic Plan is to their overall success and future sustainability as a company. They understand that they need to identify their top goals and objectives and then determine their strategy to make sure they are continually working towards those goals. There is one area that many forward thinking firms overlook and that is the importance of bringing in an outside facilitator for these meetings. In this article I will outline six crucial reasons a firm should bring in an outside facilitator to conduct and drive these firm planning sessions.
Full Team Participation
If one of your team members is facilitating, their thoughts and input are not able to be relayed since they are keeping everyone else on track. Bringing in an outside facilitator allows everyone on your team to fully participate in the discussions and activities. It’s vital for your Strategic Planning to have all teams able to give their insight so you have a full picture of what is happening and what needs to be happening at your firm.
Encourages Attendance by the Right People
Facilitators who are not personally involved in your firm are able to request and encourage attendance by the right people. They understand the importance of every aspect of the firm to the bigger picture and they make sure that all are involved from the beginning. An in-house facilitator tends to have a narrower scope of the goals they want to achieve from their planning sessions. This narrow scope can hinder their decision to bring in all of the correct team members to help with the big picture thinking.
Builds Consensus for a True Firm Vision
Something we hear from several firms is that they do not have a shared vision among the partner group or leadership team. They state that several individuals have their own agendas or are only thinking about their specific areas and that hinders their firm growth. By bringing in an outside facilitator, they are able to lead visionary discussions with your team, encourage active participation and get buy-in from everyone to develop and support one core vision. The more buy-in they are able to achieve, the more likely everyone will be working towards the overall firm goals.
Bringing Outside Perspective and Ideas
While some team members bring in experience from a few other jobs, outside facilitators bring experience from hundreds of clients and resources. These wide-ranging interactions give them insights into how multiple firms work and they are able to apply those perspectives and ideas to your team. These perspectives and ideas help with the visionary team discussions that make you successful and forward thinking.
Lower Chance of a Cancelations Taking Place
When you bring in a facilitator outside of your organization, plans are made, dates are set and there tends to be more commitment on your firm’s part to keep those dates. We’ve received feedback from firms who conduct their own planning sessions that dates are often shifted multiple times before taking place. Sometimes those sessions shift past the ideal time to get goals and initiatives set, which can throw your overall timeline off and decrease your overall success for the year.
There are two main reasons accountability is increased by bringing in an outside facilitator. The first is that the firm has more incentive to get the most out of something in which they invest. By investing in an outside facilitator they are more likely to follow the advice they are given and really put that plan into action.
The second reason is that most consultants build accountability into their process. Accountability is a way to keep your entire team on track and to make sure that steps are being made to accomplish the goals set up during the onsite facilitation.
Remember, the overall success of your firm depends on having a solid Strategic Plan. The best way to accomplish this is to bring in an outside facilitator who will make sure the right people are in attendance, who can gain participation by everyone, who will build a true firm vision, who can contribute their own outside perspective and ideas, who will lower the chance of meetings being cancelled and rescheduled multiple times and who will increase accountability at the firm and individual level.