Most of the people I work with have higher education degrees. In undergraduate and graduate school, we are taught to think about things from lots of angles. Complex thinking and academic-level knowledge is rewarded.
Because our brains have been trained in this way, it is frequently easier to understand and describe our business development ideas in complicated terms and lengthy explanations. Plus, every member of the team focuses on their individual role, rather than the whole.
The French philosopher Blaise Pascal famously wrote, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” It is hard to simplify these concepts and ideas into clear language that everyone can understand.
Business development workshops, especially those led by untrained facilitators, are known for being a bit all-over-the-place. They are scattered and full of random paths that participants go down and get off track. We call these distractions “squirrels”. They are rarely helpful and overload our brains with information that isn’t relevant to our planning. We often walk out without a clear plan and no next steps to keep the process going. Each person picks up a pet project or two that they think contributes to the whole, but there is very little evidence of whether it works.
A good business development workshop has three main components.
- A TRAINED FACILITATOR
Too often, Executive leaders try to take on the role of facilitator in planning workshops. They falsely believe they are the right person to guide the group to answers. However, in organizations where the leadership team is valued and trusted, it is significantly more important that the CEO plays a role on that team, rather than as a facilitator. When a neutral party guides the team, they can better listen to and consider all contributions.
Plus, a trained facilitator can keep you on track and knows what you need to move forward.
With a trained facilitator, you ought to be able to work through a pre-formulated process that helps you find a way through challenges and see the new opportunities quickly and without confusion.
An untrained and ill-equipped facilitator might ask the question, “What is it going to take to get 10x growth this year?” It’s a wide-open question that leaves so many paths to navigate.
A trained facilitator would instead say, “We want 10x growth this year. Here are the paths we need to navigate. I’m going to walk with you as you navigate each one and apply my knowledge of systems so that we can set you up for the best possible success.”
When you leave a business development workshop, you ought to have a clear vision of what is next. Everyone in the room should be able to communicate that plan in the same way.
When there is confusion and each person shares information in the way they understand it, it creates panic and mistrust.
Clarity means being able to say, “Here’s what we are working toward and here is how it’s going to happen.” If your team isn’t able to answer that question, you need to go back to the drawing board.