A good meeting leader or facilitator takes time to carefully craft a meaningful agenda that achieves the overall objectives and deliverables. The facilitator also identifies the possible potholes in the road and develops strategies to prevent problems from happening in the first place. Yet, even with all that preparation, the group may decide to go in a different direction!
I call this a “Strategic Moment.”
Strategic moments are those key times when the group is faced with a variety of possible ways to proceed – including staying the course! By choosing a new direction, the team is making a commitment that is not easily reversed.
You can tell a strategic moment when the team begs the question, “What do we do now?” Usually, the answer is a key conclusion, realization, insight, group decision, or another significant event.
Strategic moments are both a crisis and an opportunity. The crisis is one of faith. Can the team really agree on a path forward? If we choose a particular path, can we be successful?
The opportunity exists for the team to strike out boldly, declare its decision and work together to achieve success.
How to facilitate a strategic moment:
- Call It. Recognize that the team is facing a strategic moment where the selection of an appropriate course of action will be critical to the team’s success. Make sure everyone understands the importance of the moment.
- Check for Agreement. Does the entire team believe they need to go in a new direction or is the team being hijacked by one or two vocal members?
- Make a Conscious Choice. The team is in a quandary. What to do? Solicit ideas for a path forward. Summarize the choices and take a poll.
- Aim for Consensus. Since this is a key decision, aim for consensus so that all team members can live with and support the decision upon implementation.
- Confirm the Decision. Whatever the decision, be clear that the team is making an intentional choice to stay with the course or deviate from the published agenda. (I like to physically “turn the page” by turning to a new flipchart!)
On a final note, the facilitator has to be willing to let go of their beloved agenda. Even though they think it is the right direction and right thing to do if the team doesn’t agree, they won’t follow that amazing agenda. A strong leader is willing to facilitate a “strategic moment” by calling it for what it is, checking for agreement, clarifying the options, aiming for consensus, and proceeding with the agreed-upon desires of the group.
KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF | Master, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator. She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 27 years. She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action. Her latest book, 123 Ways to Add Pizazz to a Panel Discussion was published in January 2021.