Dr. Stefan Pastuszka on the use of Collaboard in strategy development:
Strategy workshops online? For sure!
Strategy is still perceived by many as a complex, difficult topic that can only be discussed very carefully in an appropriate setting and face to face. The very thought of holding strategy meetings virtually makes many executives shudder: How is that supposed to work? Will anything sensible come out of it at all? Virtual meetings are difficult anyway - and then again on this topic?
In fact, it works surprisingly well online once you get into it. Of course, face-to-face meetings have certain advantages, especially when it comes to non-verbal communication, but compared to the alternative of postponing important topics, online strategy workshops are clearly the better choice. Especially in Corona times, many face-to-face workshops were postponed, not always with the best outcome. So: It is better to work online now instead of in presence when it is too late.
In my practice as a strategy and innovation consultant, I have supported several companies in their strategy development - both online and in person. One particular case was a medium-sized company for which I designed a complete strategy process online over a period of six months. In the original conception, the whole thing was supposed to run as a series of face-to-face workshops, but this was made impossible by the emerging Corona pandemic combined with locations in different countries and the travel restrictions that came with it.
Instead of waiting, the decision was made without further ado to move the process into the virtual space and was thus able to revise the corporate strategy to the greatest satisfaction. The original reservations about the virtual process dissipated as quickly as fog in the morning sun. This is also true for many other, shorter strategy development processes that I have conducted with other companies in virtual space.
New opportunities due to new tools
One of the greatest aha experiences is usually associated with the consistent use of innovative digital collaborative whiteboard software in addition to a video communication tool. Here, some things work even better than in a face-to-face workshop, and in some cases completely new possibilities arise. Particularly worth mentioning in my view is the work with images, e.g. for the development of a common vision, the flexibility in the handling of sticky notes (simple copying, recoloring, etc.) as well as the possibility for everyone to participate equally.
|Collaboard offers numerous options that make such a process so versatile. In addition, there are a large number of easy-to-use templates for a wide variety of problems. Especially for the area of strategy, the Strategy Explorer should be mentioned as a popular and field-tested method, which is also a standard template at Collaboard. It allows strategies to be developed quickly and agilely on just one single (canvas) page. Originally designed for face-to-face workshops, the method is also effective in virtual workshops.
If you're on the fence about strategy and collaborative (online) whiteboards - perhaps because you're worried that confidential information could be accessed in the cloud - there are secure solutions available: Collaboard, in particular, offers several variants that allow companies to maintain maximum security and control over their data.
Additional benefitsApart from the modern collaboration tools, there are other tangible advantages of online strategy development. On the one hand, due to the somewhat more strenuous collaboration in the online workshop, the workshops have to be divided into shorter sessions. On the other hand, this allows for easier scheduling and creates the opportunity to research and test hypotheses between sessions. In general, travel expenses are saved, which is quite relevant not only in times of pandemics, but also for international teams and especially because of the reduction of greenhouse gases.
However, with all the benefits, there are a few things to keep in mind to make online strategy workshops a success:
In terms of content, all strategy-relevant topics that can be discussed objectively are suitable. It can be difficult if the topics are emotionally charged or there are conflicts within the team. In such cases, a presence-based approach is more advisable. A combination of online and face-to-face meetings can also be helpful (e.g., kick-off in presence to get the team on board).
Key success factors for online strategy meetings are good preparation, a clear structure (such as provided by using Strategy Explorer), and the right tools, such as Collaboard for co-creation and a robust video communication tool. Also remember that strategy is made by people who need to be wide awake and creative for it: don't stretch the sessions over too long a period of time to keep the flow, and make sure there are enough breaks and movement for the participants - the best ideas usually don't come while seated!
It may take some convincing, new tools, and some preparation, but strategy workshops can work great online: Keep an open mind and just try it out. Plan it well and ideally have an experienced facilitator support you!