Development of a strategy in an open process

With the results of the open space workshop, we started to develop a strategy, which happened in an open process – not in the classic way, f.e. with external business consultants, who worked on base of their given powerpoint slide set. I will not negotiate this classic way, the point is, that we made it completely different.

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The group members were elected in beforehand by the company employees, to represent the belongings of each organizational level (management board, director, head-of, team manager, employee). So, we had a very mixed, representative working group.

We started in our group of ten with the item list from the open space workshop, which we clustered and prioritized.

After prioritization we focussed on one item and worked it out, as far as possible in the meeting.

After some meetings in the complete group, we divided the groups in two smaller groups and worked out the highly prioritized issues. After this subprocess was finished, the complete group meet again and started to synchronize their results to get an unique view on these strategic questions.

Time invest: we made about 10 – 12 meetings in the complete group and about five in the subgroups.

Moderation: kind of soft moderation, will say, we had a moderator, but he only gave hints and advices about the discussion framework. In the end, where we get nearer and nearer to the date of presentation, we changed his role into a classic moderator, who had to notice our results on a flipchart.

Work intensity: we had a high level on work intensity and discussion atmosphere. there were tons of discussions to check out what each group member thought about the high prioritized topics. In nearly all cases we came to an agreement at the end of a long discussion day.

Outcome: At the end of this process, we were a group of 9 who had an almost similar view on a handful of strategic questions. We learned a lot about different views on a single topic, to discuss these views and try to adopt aspects and arguments of other persons.

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Classic elements: We mixed in our thoughts and discussions also classic business/ consultants elements, as SWOT, competitor analysis, tried to define our goals SMART, etc.

The main difference between the classic way to work out a strategy and the open process method is the group process itself. While in the classic strategy development process a company will often get input from external business consultants based on the given (and improved) framework their consultancy expertise, this method will switch the focus to a process of discussion and thinking of other viewpoints then your own point of view. Which is very inspiring, but also costs (discussion) energy, but opens your mind and give you an insight in other people agendas and thinking landscapes.

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