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Who to invite to a strategy workshop.

By Ruth Tearle

One of the first steps in a strategy planning process is to plan to plan. As part of your initial planning, you may decide to hold a participative team based strategy workshop. To ensure your strategy workshop is successful you will need to plan it carefully around the benefits you want to achieve. You will also need to think carefully about who to invite to your strategy workshop or retreat.

Who you choose to involve in your strategy planning process is as important as the content of your strategy workshop. Your choice of participants to a workshop or retreat will impact on:

  • The group dynamics during the workshop.
  • The quality of creative thinking during the workshop.
  • The quality of the strategic plan you develop as the end result of your workshop.
  • Your ability to implement your strategy after the workshop.
  • The length of time it takes to achieve a result.

Who should be invited to attend a strategy workshop.

Consider inviting people who will meet a few of the following criteria:

  • They will be part of a team you want bonded in the future.
  • They have special insights to contribute.
  • Their support will be needed to ‘sell’ your vision to key stakeholders.
  • Their commitment will be needed to put your vision into practice.
  • creative-strategy They think differently. Remember that the more diversity you have in a team, the better the creativity. Try to get variety in terms of:
    • Functions (HR, finance, IT, marketing, operations, distribution, product development…)
    • Regions.
    • Personalities and thinking styles. (extroverts, analytical people, creative people...)
    • Stake holders and representatives of your company's value chain. (Especially key customers.)
    • Parent and sister companies.
    • Race, gender, age profiles.
  • They are potential leaders you want to develop quickly.
  • They are new to the company and you want to educate them quickly about the business of the company.

Who should you avoid inviting.

Try to avoid inviting people who:

  • Cannot commit themselves to attending all the sessions during your workshop and want to come in and out when it suits them.
  • Don’t want to be there.
  • Have hidden agendas that will cause them to sabotage the process. e.g. someone who is intends resigning from your company or someone who wants to use the strategy workshop to demonstrate his power.
  • Are totally rigid thinkers. They believe they are always right and are incapable of listening to others.

What to watch out for.

Who gets invited to a strategy workshop, and who is left off the list, sends a message to the organization about who you think is important and who isn't.
You may need to be able to explain why you chose some people to attend and not others. Ensure you invite the key political players in the organization. The efforts of a strategy workshops can be wasted if key people who have the power to implement or sabotage the strategic plan, fail to attend. Similarly, if your group consists mainly of senior executives, and you invite one junior manager, you need to have a good reason for doing so.


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