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I was talking with an organization’s leader the other day about how the boss can participate in the process of strategy planning and managing for change without compromising the team’s results. In his case, he was concerned that if he sat back and let his team take the lead in the process of strategy planning, they wouldn’t push for enough change. If, however, he talked first to demonstrate how far the organization needs to go in managing for change, he feared the team would agree with his comments without challenging ideas “the boss” shares.

He asked me what I’d recommend to help mitigate this particular challenge of the boss dominating in the process of strategy planning.

In this case my recommendation was based on a quick assessment that he legitimately wants his organization to undergo dramatic changes. My answer would differ if the question were coming from a leader who talks about change yet every obvious action suggests change isn’t a good thing.

With that backdrop, my first recommendation was to bring in an outside strategic facilitator (i.e., The Brainzooming Group!) so he isn’t in the dual role of trying to both participate and facilitate at the same time. Unless it’s a very rare situation, a leader has to pick one role or the other. Trying to facilitate and also participate is a recipe for problems.

Five Ways to Keep the Boss from Dominating Strategy Planning

Beyond that important recommendation, here are five other ways to deal with this challenge:

  • Incorporate anonymous responses from the team so they can say their peace and suggest ideas without being identified.
  • Reduce the leader’s presence in the strategy planning process so they are not “visibly” participating in front of all team members at all times.
  • Vary the leader’s participation so the leader isn’t always talking first, but is talking first when it makes sense to do so.
  • Use different strategy questions than the organization typically asks so employees won’t know as readily what answers to expect from the boss.
  • Use a new or clearly neutral location for the planning session so the boss can’t sit in the usual power position in a room where the team typically meets.

Those are a few of the general techniques we use to get the broadest and most balanced participation during the process of strategy planning.

Are You Facing this Same Challenge?

What things have you done successfully to ensure the boss doesn’t overly-sway a team when it’s trying to be effective at managing for change? Are there things you do that haven’t worked as well? Let’s hear them!

And if you’re facing this same challenge, give us a call so YOU can do the most and get the most from your team’s planning effort.  – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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2 Responses to “The Process of Strategy Planning: 5 Ways to Keep the Boss from Dominating”

  1. John R. Bell says:

    So much of this depends on the leader and the team. A visionary who “sees the unseen” and has a track record of delivering results, is generally not the kind of leader who wants to get bogged down in bureaucratic processes. However, if this leader sincerely wants team input, a system needs to exist. In the final analysis, if the team doesn’t push for enough change, that CEO will have to mandate it.

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