The Key Business Benefits of Facilitated Planning Workshops

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If you’ve read my other articles on Index card Planning, particularly “The 5 Key Drawbacks of Project Planning Using Sticky Notes” or “How to Plan Your Project Using Index Cards”, then you may be interested in using the Index Card Planning Method to plan your next project.

If you are feeling confident in running a workshop yourself then go for it – get yourself a batch of 8″ x 5″ Index cards, a handful of pens, sheets of flip-chart paper and you’re good to go. If you’re not feeling that confident, would like to see the approach in action or would like to have someone come in to lead a workshop or two for you first then I’d recommend using an external facilitator for your future projects.

The benefits of using an external facilitator

The main problems experienced in planning workshops – reliance on subject matter experts, lack of consistency, low levels of knowledge transfer and lack of consistent follow-up – are all overcome through the use of a trained facilitator.  Here’s how:

  • Your facilitator will work with you to ensure that you have the right people at your workshop and, provided that they are there, will help to draw out their expertise and share it with the rest of the participants
  • By having a facilitator lead the workshop, your project manager becomes a participant, rather than the workshop leader.  This is an invaluable aid to developing collaboration.  This allows them to participate fully, to view the project objectively and listen to the opinions of others in the session in a way that they could not if they were leading.
  • You can expect consistently high outputs through a repeatable planning process than means you get a credible high level plan, usually in a single session
  • You can expect a high level of knowledge transfer because it is specifically built into the workshop.  Your team will leave the workshop with a better understanding of the activities and problems that they need to overcome, plus a clear vision of what they need to do on the project.
  • You will get consistent follow-up after the workshop through the use of time-bound action plans and the input from your own senior management in the workshop.

What you can expect from a facilitated planning workshop

  • A clear understanding of what success will look like if the project is delivered
  • A credible high level plan and key milestones for achievement
  • A better informed and motivated project team
  • The basis for reliable costings and estimates
  • Successful knowledge transfer and skills development for the whole team

The aim of facilitation is to make things easier. Why not make things easy on your project and on yourself by getting in someone whose sole task is to help you create a credible plan by harnessing the power of your key stakeholders in a way that gets their commitment.

“The Key Business Benefits of Facilitated Planning Workshops” © 2014 Bryan Barrow