DIY: Facilitating a Strategic Planning Session

I used to moonlight as a professional facilitator. A few months before I was trained and certified, I never knew such a job even existed, but I stumbled upon the opportunity to do it professionally and I found it incredibly rewarding. It was right in line with my natural tendency to generate alignment and consensus in my leadership roles and guiding others through the same process was new and fun. I mostly facilitated strategic planning sessions but also had several engagements that involved organizational assessment and design and team building.  I worked with people in industries I didn’t know anything about, ranging from party equipment rental to non-profit organizations and everything in between, and in doing so I learned that the basic principles that guide the process are nigh universal. I also found it to be very exciting work because the team dynamics and the behaviors and even the occasional dysfunctions were always unique to each team. Perhaps the most interesting story I have in that regard is that I once had to pause a strategic planning session for a family business, because I had to conduct an impromptu private marriage counseling session for a couple who held key positions with the company before we could get back on track.