As a strategic planning facilitator one of my roles is to help my clients see their future.

This can be difficult because managers and leaders are incredibly busy and often immersed in their day-to-day problems.

It takes time therefore to help a group move from the current situation to an ideal situation.

I faced this situation yesterday when I was facilitating a leadership team from a non-profit organisation who in spite of their amazing work are facing a funding crisis.

The leadership group in spite of the small bush fires they face everywhere decided to run a day long session with their team to try and design a better future.

I love this approach because it is a proactive way of crafting a future which acknowledges the current environment but the organisation is not captive to it.

How we started:

We started by running through a SWOT analysis (i.e. strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).

Then we used my Mindset Box tool to highlight the groups key and often self-limiting assumptions, beliefs, expectations and experiences.

These tools helped to ground the group in the current situation.

Imagining a different future:

The next step was to have each leader draw an image that they felt best represented the organisation today and one that captured a future state.

Having participants draw these images has a number of advantages:

– It is fun and creative

– A picture tells a thousand words

– The entire process is quick and insightful

– It creates a greater urgency for action (i.e. because the current picture is always different from the future one).

– Each individual has a chance to draw their own vision and

– An image can often convey emotions much better than words.

Discussing each drawing:

The group then spent some time explaining and discussing their respective drawings.

Remember at this stage there is no right or wrong scenario — it is the future after-all.

The group then tried to connect and compare different future states.

The aim at this stage is to see if there is any consensus among the group about what the most desirable future looks like.

Pulling it all together:

The last step in using the Drawing the Solution tool is for the group to put some words around describing the future.

The most popular and engaging words were then assembled and a story developed by the group.

Suddenly the team could start to see a more optimistic future that was filled with new opportunities.

As important they could also start to reject projects that did not fit in with this collective vision.

With limited resources this greater clarity and focus will pay-off almost immediately.

In summary:

Drawing the ideal or future solution is a very powerful and insightful strategic planning facilitation tool that i would urge every leadership team to use in their next strategic planning facilitation day.

It will make your session more insightful and help you to escape a business-as-usual future.

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