For many organizations, prioritizing cross-departmental or corporate initiatives can be challenging, especially in a workshop or off-site environment. In this setting, negative team dynamics can take over and lead to sub-optimal outcomes. Team dynamics tend to diverge into two extremes. At one end there is total agreement with the plan; and, at the other end, there is no agreement but the conversation continues. In either case however, there is still no guarantee that either of these groups will follow through on the priorities. We’ve worked with clients at both ends of the spectrum where they agree and commit and even where they appear to agree but then go back to their offices and proceed with their own plans.
At Mark Longo, we’ve developed a proven process that works. The secret to prioritizing key initiatives is to set the foundation. First, build the right context and agree on the ground rules. Second, agree on potential decision-making criteria and rank them. Then, clearly define each initiative so everyone is on the same page. Next, re-group to confirm all are still viable. Last, vote, rank, and discuss results and develop a moving forward plan.
Although this sounds relatively simple, gaining agreement and follow through commitment can be extremely difficult. We can help to gain alignment quickly and with the least amount of pain.
Mark Longo’s approach is to balance the art and the science to facilitate a more powerful discussion. We utilize a mix of tools to create the appropriate context. For example, we use an audience polling system that allows each participant an equal voice in these prioritization sessions. It allows everyone to have a voice and express opinions without saying a word. The benefit of using such a tool is the quick, real-time and anonymous input from all participants. It facilitates discussions and ensures opinions are put on the table without the participants succumbing to peer-pressure or the opinions of the “loudest” stakeholder(s). It also allows for more efficient workshops since it reduces the time to collate the results / opinions (and thus gain consensus) and provides more time for more meaningful discussions.
Below are some of the objectives or questions that a prioritization exercise can help you answer.
Our clients walk away from these sessions satisfied they have had fruitful discussions and contributed to the outcomes. Sometimes our participants leave with additional insights into their own personal style of communication as well as those of their team members.
Ultimately, engaging in prioritization exercises will not guarantee an organization’s business success; however, it will engage the stakeholder(s), solicit input, support discussions, and define the game plan for moving forward. If implemented with proven complimentary business practices, you will see results.
Facilitating workshops are not always easy and the key to being successful starts with having the audience in the right frame of mind. Our experience has shown that people buy-in to the plan, the idea or the strategy when they have been engaged in the process. They need to feel like they have made a contribution.
In addition to having the right audience, it is important to have the required research and analysis conducted prior to conducting the workshop. At Mark Longo, we do the preparation outside of the workshop so that the executives’ discussions can be relevant and timely.
“I have enjoyed working with you because I trust that you understand our needs and truly represent Dspfactory’s interests in any solution development. More importantly, your professionalism and pragmatism in working with my Senior Management Team helped to gain consensus and buy-in to the new process.”
Robert Tong, CEO and President, Dspfactory