Planning & Facilitation

Strategic Planning & Facilitation (Core Service)

We have supported a wide variety of planning and facilitation services, and would welcome the opportunity to speak with you and help you design a consulting engagement to support your work.

Facilitation is one of the most important skills we have developed over our years as managers and consultants. It runs through the center of any planning engagement. At its core, facilitation is about listening. We help you strike that critical balance, making sure that everyone in the room is clearly heard, but that the task at hand is still accomplished. We are comfortable with groups of any size and can respond to the inevitable dips and turns that sometimes heated discussions can generate. Whether you already have clearly honed objectives and a meeting agenda in place, or you need help planning a successful meeting or retreat, we can provide the independent and experienced meeting management every organization requires from time to time.

Strategic Planning is often the best example of, and most challenging type of, planning and facilitation work. The power of strategic planning rests in its core deliverable: clear agreement. With that in hand, an array of individuals, who care deeply about an organization and its mission, will be able to work in concert toward the same specific goals, objectives and tasks over successive months, quarters and years. The plans we help clients craft are concise and useful, not research tomes that sit on a shelf and gather dust.

Our approach to strategic planning has been honed through real-world experience and hard-earned lessons. We believe that board members, managers, staff and volunteers of successful organizations focus on, and coordinate their work around, a common set of goals. They each understand their own role in achieving these goals, and respect and understand the roles of others. Collectively, they are clear about how these specific goals will allow the organization to fulfill its mission and its niche in the community. Effective Strategic Planning creates a timely and practical blueprint for translating this understanding into action.

MGA customizes each planning process at the outset, based upon an organization’s needs and circumstances. Planning must be inclusive, capitalizing on the diverse perspectives of stakeholders. But no organization has excess time and resources; you cannot allow yourself to be bogged down in unnecessary process.

Each strategic planning project we do is different. It has to be. Each organization is unique. Organizations come to us at different points in their own organizational history and with a unique set of challenges presented to them by the communities they serve, their internal capacities, funding streams and environmental factors.

In the past, we have incorporated a variety of activities into strategic planning processes. We have helped organizations to do the following:

  • To build on lessons others have already learned — by researching and synthesizing current best practices and policy innovations.
  • To look around and gain new insights into the communities served and the operating environment — by learning from those outside the organization (e.g. through focus groups, surveys and interviews).
  • To take a fresh look within, assessing current strengths and weaknesses, — by learning from those already invested in the organization (e.g. staff, board members, volunteers and donors).
  • To re-focus their organization’s purpose — by revising or refining mission and vision statements.
  • To make clear how they expect individual staff and volunteers to behave, and to make organizational decisions — by articulating an organizational values statement.
  • To define the fundamental opportunities, tradeoffs and tensions before them — by outlining and exploring explicit choices.
  • To CHOOSE: The fundamental outcome of strategic planning is agreement. Having reached a consensus — having focused on a strategy and set aside other options that might compete for finite time, energy and resources  — an organization will be positioned to succeed.
  • To translate the chosen organizational strategy into action — by agreeing to clear, measurable 3-5 year goals and objectives.
  • To begin to translate the strategic plan into an operational one — by crafting an implementation plan that spells out who will do what by when.

In addition, we always leave organizations with a customized version of our Annual Planning Process so that they can independently monitor the plan during its life and keep it relevant. Without this ongoing, board-adopted process, all of the plan’s best intentions might well be lost to the competing pressures of new demands, staff and board turnover, funding crunches and other predictable disruptions.

Finally, when your plan is complete, we intend to walk away (though we are always a phone call or email away). Our goal is to leave you with the plans, tools and confidence to implement your plan. We want to build your organization’s internal strengths and capacities, not make you dependent upon yet another outside consultant!

View Examples of Strategic Planning & Facilitation Projects:

Sample Strategic Planning Project
Facilitation of Community-Driven Process

Learn more about our other Core Service:

Program Evaluation, Research & Design

Learn more about our Other Services:

Survey & Market Research
Management Systems, Methods & Documentation
Coaching & Transitions
Organizational Development