This week’s strategic planning session with my client reminded me of how powerful guiding a group to explore what might be blocking them can be. I often use the Technology of Participation's® (ToP) Participatory Strategic Planning process with clients wanting to have a highly participatory and engaging strategic planning process with widespread ownership for its creation and implementation. In addition to whatever environmental scanning is appropriate, the ToP process has four workshops; Practical Vision, Underlying Contradictions, Strategic Directions, and Implementation.
It can be an incredibly powerful group exercise to move away from irritants and blaming patterns when referring to reoccurring frustrations and collectively engage in a deeper analysis of how the participants themselves may be contributing and supporting persistent roadblocks. Like the iceberg, the majority of root causes of these blocks are likely under the surface and seldom named, let alone discussed or addressed. Naming, owning, and strategizing around these underlying contradictions allows for systems to intentionally disrupt these often entrenched patterns. It also sets them up well for strategic directions, which focus on substantial actions to address the named contradictions and move towards the vision.