Bring people together to create strategies for action – 2 day course
Download course overview (pdf)
Please visit our public courses calendar to see upcoming dates and locations for this course. Alternatively, contact us for more information about booking this course as an in-house course for your organisation.
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Who this course is for
Group Facilitation Methods is a pre-requisite for this course.
The course is suitable for all those who want to be able to involve people more effectively in planning and implementing medium to long-term strategies together, including team leaders and managers within organisations, those working with Boards, management teams, partnerships and external stakeholders, youth and community workers and independent facilitators.
“The training gave me the confidence to trust the overall power of groups, and my skills in how to get the best out of them. It is readily accessible, and I have used it extensively since attending the course” – Donna Green, Models of Care Co-ordinator, Barnsley Drug & Alcohol Action Team
“The course attracted delegates from different countries, cultures and work background - it was testing, and ultimately very rewarding” - Matt Swain, FB Development
"The course demonstrated that the method works, and can really stimulate the engagement of those involved - it increased my confidence in the methods and in my ability to employ them successfully" - Michiel Lenstra, Arthritis Care
Questions this course answers
"How can I enable my group to come to a common vision for their future? How can I help them make their vision happen by creatively addressing the root causes of the challenges that are blocking them, rather than focus simply on fire-fighting and problem-solving? How can I ensure a real sense of ownership, so that for once their plan actually happens?”
The course presents a structured long-range planning process which incorporates the Consensus Workshop method for building consensus, the Focused Conversation method for effective group communication, and an implementation process for turning ideas into productive action and concrete accomplishments.
Those with more experience of facilitation, strategic planning or our approach may need no further support to apply the process effectively in their own situations, and for others the course serves as a powerful, experiential introduction to the process.
What you will gain
By the end of the course, you will
- have enhanced your capacity for creative strategy building by exploring and understanding the four stages and the flow of the Participatory Strategic Planning process, and the four associated types of thinking – visionary, contradictional, strategic and practical
- be able to identify when and how to use the Participatory Strategic Planning process
- have consolidated your understanding of the Consensus Workshop and Focused Conversation methods, and gained confidence to use and adapt them
- have further developed your links with others to promote future collaboration and support in the use of the methods.
Participatory Strategic Planning is a 4-stage process, each stage involving a specially tailored Consensus Workshop process. The four stages are:
- Practical Vision - what the group would like to see in place in 3-5 years’ time, often preceded by a visualisation exercise.
- Underlying Contradictions - the obstacles or issues that are preventing that vision from happening, and which must be dealt with in order to move forward
- Strategic Directions - innovative courses of action that the group can take to deal with the underlying contradictions and move it toward realising its vision.
- Implementation Plan - a set of practical actions that will start the group’s journey from where it is to where it wants to be. A clear outline of what is to be done, why, how, when and by whom.
Download Participatory Strategic Planning Method overview (pdf)
Download a case study (pdf) of how this method was used in community planning in North London
This method has been featured in publications including:
- Involve’s 'People and Participation: how to put citizens at the heart of decision making',
- the New Economics Foundation’s 'Participation Works! 21 techniques of community participation for the 21st century',
- Bunker & Alban’s 'Large Group Interventions: Engaging the Whole System for Rapid Change',
- Holman & Devane’s 'The Change Handbook: the definitive resource on today's best methods for engaging whole systems'.
- Deutsch, Morton and Coleman’s “The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice”
- and many others - see our books and resources
The course presents the process in a practical and participatory way, enabling the group to experience the complete strategic planning process during the course. Each of the four workshops is first demonstrated, using a scenario with which participants can identify without having to role-play.
These demonstrations can also offer a few opportunities for participants to facilitate parts of the sessions themselves, with coaching from the trainers. After each workshop, the process is analysed and discussed. Finally, participants plan how they can apply the process in their own situations.
What do participants say about this course?
80% of PSP participants rated this course 8/10 or higher.
Comments from participants’ end-of-course evaluations included:
- an in-depth look at advanced use of ToP group facilitation methods for strategic planning
- provides a great tool to enliven your team and involve them in making commitments to deliver benefits for your organisation – I really enjoyed the course
- an insightful and inspiring course that opens new doors in facilitating groups
- great fun with lots of practical knowledge, facilitated by skilled and friendly facilitators
- hard work, but definitely worth it
- great value and a real learning curve
- this is the best two days you could spend on learning to plan strategically for maximum impact