Strategic Planning in Open Space

Jay Vogt JayWV at
Thu Oct 21 08:36:00 PDT 1999

Hi Andrew:
Lots to reply to.

I think your process design can work.

In doing a two day OS specifically to create a strategic plan for a new
organization, we:
• began by doing environmental scan, etc., and publishing that information
for all
• published a "template" for the ultimate strategic plan before we started
making it (yes using all the conventional categories) so everyone knew where
we were headed
• used three big "buckets" to broadly converge information generated at the
1) guiding ideas (mission, values, vision, etc.)
2) program goals
3) operational supports for program goals
• gave groups "templates" (flipcharts requesting certain information) to help
focus the groups' output into usable chunks of planning information for the
ultimate plan.

A small, (very) dedicated staff group compiled all this information into a
strategic plan.  They checked their work with representative stakeholders.
They created a plan for the organization for the first time.  Their critique
of the process fit your worries: the folks who gave the input were somewhat
passive waiting for the small group to finish the plan, and despite diligent
work, it took them from November to May to finish the thing.  Of course, when
they finished, they had a strategic plan, an operational plan linked to it,
and a budget.

Ultimately I don't see a lot of alternatives.  The learning curve for this
group, doing this for the first time, was steep.  Charging folks up to act on
their own, right out of the gate, gets faster action, but without the
blessing of the concerted plan.

Incidentally, the client invited me back to their second retreat (next week)
also in Open Space, which builds on the goals and strategies of the first.

My advice: use Open Space to generate lots of input fast.  Be very clear
about your planning structure and givens in advance.  Coach folks to assemble
the plan as fast as they can after the events.  Plan follow up Open Spaces to
give folks a chance to build on the plan when it's published.

Carry on!

Regards, Jay

Jay W. Vogt
166 Hubbard Street
Concord, MA 01742-2448 USA
(978) 371-3134 - Voice
(978) 287-5431 - Fax
jaywv at - Email

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