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How to Facilitate a Balanced Scorecard Workshop

Posted January 13, 2012 6:29 PM by Dylan Miyake

Your leadership team is ready to launch a strategy management system. They have bought into the idea of a strategy map and strategic measures. They even say they will meet regularly to discuss performance and make strategic decisions. It is going to be great. They have asked you to facilitate the leadership workshop. Do you know how to facilitate your leadership team?

Here are a few guidelines on how to facilitate a productive, purposeful workshop with your leadership.

Establish clear objectives for the meeting.

Every good meeting begins with a structured agenda and clear objectives. Everyone in the meeting must agree to the objectives at the outset. You need to indicate the direction the meeting will take and revisit this periodically so the team is aware of the progress that they are making. When the meeting seems that it is about to get off topic jump back to the objectives for the meeting.

Establish ground rules with the Executive Director/President.

As facilitator you need to know who the boss in the room is, what outcomes are most important and be confident that she is on your side. This requires a" pre-present" with the boss to review the agenda, objectives, decisions to be made and how she would like to resolve conflicts or end discussions that are not leading to a decision. Will she make the final decision, will there be a "parking lot" for issues to be set aside, what topics should be avoided. During the meeting you need to continually check in with the president – everyone else is watching her reaction you need to be a step ahead.

Take the time to understand and educate the group.

With the team bought into the Balanced Scorecard or whatever management process you are using they will be in a rush. The will not have the patience to sit still for education, theory or any kind of overview. You skip this step at your peril. There will most definitely be an uneven level of knowledge or experience among team members. It is important that you review the concepts with the group to ensure that everyone has a basic understanding and will be able to participate constructively.

Homework will pay off here. If possible, meet with the participants before the meeting to get an understanding of their view of the strategy, what are their concerns and priorities. The more you know about individual's biases and priorities the more equipped you will be to navigate the group discussion, anticipate landmines and solicit input from people who have particular knowledge or views.

Focus on the decision to be made.

Think of facilitation as providing road signs for a conversation. You are not trying to be elegant and seamless rather you are trying to explicitly point the way and provide guard rails along the way. As the facilitator you should make clear the decision that the group is trying to make. Conversations may naturally migrate to related and even unrelated topics. But remember that you are not hosting a cocktail party you are helping a leadership team make decisions. If their conversation wanders, no matter how naturally, you need to bring them back on topic and re-focus them on the decision at hand.

Balance the voices in the room. Every group has a few people who jump into conversation readily, others who dominate conversation and some who will not join a conversation at all. Be mindful that people have different learning styles, some need to read and think, others think as they speak, others benefit from dialog, etc. Consider different formats to leverage different learning styles and personalities – breakout groups, table exercises, formal presentations, stickies on wall charts....are just a few.

Remember, the folks that are quiet are not disengaged or unintelligent they may simply have a different method of learning or communicating. It is your job to get their knowledge into the conversation. Similarly, those that are eager to talk are not necessarily the most knowledgeable. It may fall to you to prevent these folks from dominating the conversation to make room for other voices.

Know when to declare victory.

If you are facilitating a strategy map workshop or a measurement meeting you are asking your team to make some difficult decisions. Priorities, tradeoffs, investments, indicators are not easy decisions to make and even more difficult for a group to make. Be sure to mark when a decision has been made and write it down and review progress periodically!

Also know when a conversation has gone as far as it can in the meeting. Sometimes, a discussion should be tabled for later or a different venue when particular experts can be involved. Don't force a group beyond their point of productivity. A break or even a new topic may refresh through group and get you back on track.

Remember you are the facilitator.

Be careful of the number one trap of facilitation – joining the conversation. Your job is to conduct the orchestra not to sit down and jam. Stay in your role and follow the points above. Focus, perseverance and tireless enthusiasm will make all the difference!

Filed Under Facilitation