Mixing Up Group Planning Sessions

Sydney, Australia Chapter

Mark is Director for Arrow Zee Australia in Sydney and has over 20 years of experience working for large organizations.

Are your planning sessions not getting the results you expected? Do you have alphas, extroverts, evangelists, subject matter experts, senior managers or political aspirants who dominate planning sessions to the point that other people’s ideas are quashed or simply never make it to the table?

A sponsor once raised this issue with me when we were discussing the outputs from previous planning sessions. They observed that a selected few were providing most of the input, while the rest of the group remained largely silent. They were concerned that we were not effectively leveraging the talent within the group to get the best result.

I went and talked to some of the quieter members of the group about this. They agreed and added the that these same few influential people always sought to dominate the group sessions with their ideas and were quick to dismiss contrary viewpoints. They therefore considered it to be rather pointless to offer up alternatives that might not support these people’s ideas.

The task before me was to find a way to address this issue and to level the playing field so that everyone in the group would contribute. I refer to the solution I came up with as “the group rotation technique.” Here is an example of how it works… 

Let’s say there are nine people involved in a planning session and it includes two people …

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"Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week."

- George Bernard Shaw