4 Strategic Planning Co-creation Steps & Benefits

Strategic co-creation planning…what’s that?

Co-creation to speed up understanding, buy-in, implementation

Many organizations, particularly those in the for-profit SME and the NFP sectors have, until now, operated well on the outdated annual programme/budget basis. Now, downward pressure on income and/or funding is revealing the lack of organizational skills in both management and programme development and delivery. They are ineffective and/or inefficient for new complex market conditions. Change has come calling at the door and the need for strategic outcomes-driven planning is overdue. Some even argue that strategic planning is outdated…

Traditionally, strategic planning takes time and requires expertise, often delivered from the outside. The experts examine the problems and devise solutions, goals, strategies, etc. The plan they deliver may be somewhere between ideal and flawed, but we can’t know until it’s been implemented. The risk is in people, (staff/partners/stakeholders/funders/customers) taking their time to become engaged in the strategic plan. It’s often difficult to get them to stop doing what is supposed to change. It’s a slow process.

You can take the horse to water, but can’t make the horse drink it.

What’s the option? How does a Solution Focused co-created planning process speed up the process of planning change, especially in looking at long-term outcomes?

It asks three simple questions you’ve heard before on these pages: What is working that we don’t need to change? What do we do more of/ instead of the problem? What do we need to do to see immediate progress?

The approach is used to engage many stakeholder perspectives in assessing

What’s working (that we don’t want to change)? There’s always more than we realize. Benefit: Moves people from hopeless to hopeful

What needs to be different/better? We clarify the problem, but do not make it central to the solution Benefit: It’s easier to see what we will stop doing.

What will it look like when the problem is no longer present? When asked this way, people discover what they have in common. Benefit: build a plan that leverages input and insight of all parties.

What would we see ourselves doing to initiate the change? Benefit: The change can begin at the start of the planning.

Engage the horse in getting it to the water it will drink.


Yes, but what if the people engaged are wrong about what needs to be done? They may be wrong, but no more so than the planning experts. If they own it, they will make it work flaws and all. If they don’t own it, they will take more time to engage.

Yes, but what if the staff (and others) are resistant to any change? Start by asking them (and their customers) what’s working and what needs to be better. Watch the change start happening. It may have to slow down a bit if they are deeply entrenched.

Key ingredient: early cross-stakeholder alignment (everyone is a stakeholder) and the above solution focused better questions. When everyone is aligned around the new desired outcomes, the plan falls in place more naturally.

It is a co-creation planning process. 

More on the better questions that Solution Focus brings to co-creation

Fry The Monkeys is now the official book of www.betternxt.com

Betternxt 2.0 tiny




8 thoughts on “4 Strategic Planning Co-creation Steps & Benefits

  1. michael cardus

    Alan this is refreshing and helpful to refocus me. There is pressure to “be the expert and tell the company the future” . Somehow the expert is supposed to have greater knowledge of the work than those doing the work. This can hurt progress. What you frame is 3 progress steps that work. Thank you.

    1. Alan Kay

      Thanks Mike, it is sometimes hard to bite your lip when they ask you what you think, or you have a ‘much better answer than theirs’.
      So, I sometimes say. ‘I’m taking off my change facilitator hat and putting on my consultant cap. My thoughts are XYZ. Now, the facilitator’s hat is going back on’. Other times I might say, ‘What I’ve seen other clients doing is…’

  2. Pingback: Organization Development : Team Building : Leadership : Create-Learning » Blog Archive » What if the people engaged in planning are wrong about what needs to be done?

  3. Pingback: First discover where your client is self-reliant. | Fry The Monkeys

  4. Pingback: Solution Focus applications. Beyond theory and coaching | Fry The Monkeys

  5. Pingback: Let small changes infect big change in your organization | Fry The Monkeys

  6. Jason Duckworth

    I like that the questions help them take ownership of the project versus us striving to “sell” them on ‘our’ solutions.

    1. Alan Kay

      Thanks Jason. It’s a Solution Focus core practice that the client comes up with the solution and thereby owns it in a more engaged way. In all of my planning facilitation work I encourage the client to engage as many stakeholders as possible so that when the final plan is launched, a) they have ownership (relative to their role), b) are already engaged in making some of it happen. I promise clients that while this approach may seem to slow down the planning effort (it actually doesn’t), it speeds up plan implementation.

Comments are closed.