This was a huge commitment on our part. Taking 40 senior people away from the coalface is not done lightly, but it was worth it for a number of reasons. It is worth noting firstly the buzz in the room throughout, it really was a high energy event. And secondly, by the end of only two days, seven key strategic areas were identified by the team and presented in the final session.
McLaughlin and Harvey had a two day event which aimed to bring their Scottish and Northern Irish senior teams together for a get to know you session and, more importantly, to scope out the key strategic areas the business needs to focus on going forward.
“Our initial thought was that we needed to get everyone in the same room, for at least a day. When we started to discuss this with Russell he challenged many of our assumptions: why have all these presentations? How will you know you have been successful? What are you meeting for?
One day turned into two and through discussion we came up with a programme that shifted the dial in terms of our thinking.”
David O’Neill, Group Finance Director
At 9am on the first day the job was to get forty senior managers, all with a healthy scepticism as this was new to many, onside and keen to fully invest their time and abilities over two intensive days.
By 4pm on day two the group had to have a better sense of their colleagues, have met all those they did not know, believe the event was a good use of time and have contributed fully to the tangible outputs that would be taken forward by various groups created on the day.
And there had to be tangible outputs: actions going forward assigned to individuals and groups with specific goals articulated and time-framed.
“Russell had done some pitching work for us in the recent past, so I knew his style would suit this group. But what transpired over the two days was still a revelation. The energy, the humour and the ability to take our group on a journey was palpable from the first morning and sustained throughout: that is not an easy task when there are so many distractions.
But more importantly the outputs were what we needed and by the second afternoon six groups delivered what were essentially mini strategic plans for their chosen areas. Russell’s contribution from initial discussions, through creating the brief and focussing the programme to execution, were invaluable.”
The results of a two day strategic facilitation are manifest in the medium and long term, but what can be measured immediately after is whether the objectives set were achieved and how the group felt about it in the aftermath.
There is a huge opportunity cost in doing this type of event and the outcome must be more than talk and teamwork, important as they are.
What has emerged are a series of projects with project teams assigned to them and the beginnings of a focus on goals that will show how success is to be measured.
In the end it is the people in the room who decide whether an event is a success and the longer term assessment relates to what actions were taken and how far the dial was shifted - watch this space. For now, here are some delegate reactions to the event:
"Thoroughly engaging and professional."
"Very engaging, very energetic and kept the two days interesting and lively."
"Enthusiastic, interesting and entertaining delivery."
"Inspiring, energising and above all motivational."
"Inspiring, funny, well structured, kept the day moving very quickly."