Two Tales of Participative Strategy

Changing the story for the Blue Cross

Animal lovers will all know Blue Cross. Sameer Pathak, Head of Internal Communication and Engagement, invited Engage for Change to design their Leadership Conference 2016, an off site for 80 leaders.

The theme was Changing the story for Blue Cross and the aim was to devise an event that would help the leadership team to discuss and agree key priority activities for the year.

John Smythe worked in advance with both the Executive and Senior Leadership Teams to agree aspects of the business strategy that were set in stone and flesh out five strategy delivery streams.

The two day event commenced with exacting rehearsals for the participative strategy session featuring a version of Strategy Safari for the 80 leaders. One of the problems with leadership meetings is the production of too many ideas, many of which are not specific and actionable or not aligned to the challenge to hand.

If the process is not diligently managed it can become a repeat of personal agendas and incremental thinking. The big bear trap lies in conventional PP presentations followed by table brain (less) storms. We have learnt that the stimulation of out of box thinking requires a surprising environment, safety to speak up and meeting dynamics where the group never outflanks the meeting design. And two more things; absolute and ruthless punctuality. And most important; team size escalation in which people work alone to form a personal view and then work in groups of ascending size (from pairs) to the point, in some situations, to cohorts of a 100 which negotiate with other cohorts.

In Blue Crosse’s case more than 250 ideas for strategy delivery were whittled down to five big ticket streams of activity – such negotiations take a half day and fast moving dynamics; some pre-designed and some made up as the drama unfolds. Strategy facilitation is a real time art.