Wednesday 31 July 2013

Business strategy development

I've attended a number of less than successful business strategy development sessions in the past and have observed a number of the following happening:
  • the same people contributing
  • nothing new emerging
  • energy at the end of the day being very low
  • limited inspiration to take action
  • lack of cohesion between the leadership team
  • no clear plan emerging
  • cliches maintained
  • nothing changes as a result
I'm sure you could add to this list.

When facilitating such sessions I often use nature as the inspiration and find, as a result, the above list to be missing. I'm sure there are many reason for this - the one I'd like to concentrate on today is the power of metaphor.

With one client, after the leadership team had spent time in small groups in nature, the above picture emerged to summarise the conversation about where the organisation was and some of the options that existed for where they wanted to be.

The beauty of using metaphor to explore the current situation, especially if you can stick with the metaphor for as long as possible, is it avoids:
  • ego
  • resistance
  • barriers
  • "if"s, "but"s and "not"s
  • defensiveness
  • anger
  • blame
The beauty of using metaphor to explore opportunities is it avoids all of the above and in addition:
  • attachment to preconceived opportunities
  • the same old opportunities re-emerging time and time again
  • lack of new ideas emerging
Imagine the facilitator, or CEO for that matter, saying "we need to do something different" at the start of the session. Before we've even had chance to take a breath the reasons why it's not possible start. With a metaphor the suggestion to try something different comes from:
  • walking up a lane and seeing a hole in the hedge
  • sunrise or sunset
  • caterpillars or butterflies
  • seeds - whether floating past, growing or still in their pods/shells
  • the tide changing
  • the sound of the wind
  • harvest time 
  • spring time
I can assure you the "can't"s evaporate when faced with the wisdom from nature. Once the wisdom has been harvested then, and only then, is it time to release the metaphor. Time to understand what it means in practice and identify an inspirational and innovative strategy for the organisation going forward.

How could the wisdom of nature help your leadership team today? #happytohelp

Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out

You can find out more about the work I do here. There's also an Overcoming business challenges using the wisdom of nature workshop arranged in August - it's also available to be run in-house.

Caterpillar picture courtesy of Pixabay

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