When calling individuals together for strategic planning meetings the following introductory script has been found useful:
- As you are well aware, we are accelerating change and I need your input prior to finalizing our strategy and implementation plans. I believe there is an opportunity for us to improve our understanding of the way we implement change.
- This session is intended to be the first in a series of dialogues to help us clarify the assumptions, programs, and responsibilities underlying the implementation of our key strategies. We have the view that only through the input from a larger group can we execute our changes in programs in a coherent and unambiguous way. The purpose of this two-day session is to gain understanding of each other’s view by thinking through the major issues facing us at this time.
- The session is not an attempt to make decisions as much as a setting to examine directions in the assumptions underlying them.
- We have a second goal. This is to be together as colleagues, leaving all our roles and positions the door. In this talent we should consider ourselves equal to still have the substantial of knowledge of the situations we are considering.
- We see this meeting as the first step toward establishing an ongoing substantial dialogue among us. Our experience shows that to engage in dialogue takes practice, and we should expect to be learning how to do this in the session. Several ground rules are helpful and we invite you to participate by following these as much as you can.
1. Suspension of assumptions. Typically people take a position and defend it, holding to it. Others take up the opposite positions and polarization results. In this session, we would like to examine some of our assumptions underlying our direction and strategy and not seek to defend them.
2. Acting as colleagues. We are asking everyone to leave his or her position of the door. There will be no particular hierarchy in this meeting, except for the facilitator, who will, hopefully, keep us on track.
3. Spirit of inquiry. We would like to have people free to explore the thinking behind their views, the deeper assumptions they may hold, and the evidence they have that leads them to these views. So it will be fair to begin to ask other such questions as “what leads you say or believe this?” Or “what makes you ask about this?”