Thanks to the subsidy from ACOA, the Community Sector Council of NL and Memorial University’s Harris Centre were able to invite two resource persons from Purdue University’s Agile Strategy Lab (Ed Morrison and Liz Nilsen) to deliver a 2½-day training workshop on a facilitation technique called “Strategic Doing”. The workshop was held on the St. John's Campus of the University on October 11-13, 2017. As well, the facilitators spent one day with a group at Memorial University and a day with Community Sector Council colleagues from the community sector.
Strategic Doing is a relatively new facilitation technique developed by Purdue University, that it is designed to form collaborations quickly, move them toward measurable outcomes and make adjustments along the way. Strategic Doing enables leaders to design and guide networks that generate innovative solutions. It is lean, agile and fast, just what organizations, communities and regions want to meet the complex challenges they face.
Strategic Doing is especially useful when dealing with complex problems that require the participation of a variety of groups (governments, universities, business, the community sector), each with its own culture, resources and decision-making processes. Conventional approaches to strategy often are designed for hierarchies, not networks. But increasingly, issues exceed organizational boundaries and, even within organizations, work involves collections of teams in which traditional command-and-control is not the most effective way of working.
Strategic Doing combines the essential elements of strategic planning and plan execution. Working together, groups using the technique quickly identify projects that can be undertaken with the resources available within the group and allocate action tasks to the group members, according to their abilities and capacity. Strategic Doing then provides a framework for the group to reconvene at regular intervals (usually monthly) to monitor progress and to keep each member accountable to the group.
The 2½-day workshop, held October 11,12,13, titled “Strategic Doing 301”, provided the participants with the knowledge required to apply the Strategic Doing technique with client groups in order to achieve objectives that no one individual could achieve alone. Workshop participants were provided with a “Practitioner’s Field Guide” that provides detailed information about the various elements of the technique. After the workshop, they were also provided access to a website containing a practitioner’s resource library. As well they now have the opportunity to further pursue their learning through practical, on the ground use of the methodology in relationship with the Group at the Agile Strategy Lab., Purdue.
The intent of the workshop was to invite a select group of development practitioners from all three levels of government, academia, non-governmental community groups and professional organizations and private consultants. The range and individual participants were identified by organization and identified skill set and interest in the learning event. The intent was to convene a group who would take value from the new learning and advance their capacity for the purpose of achieving consensus on whatever issues the groups are facing.
Typically the Agile Strategy Lab criteria limits participation to 15 people. However, the CSC NL and the Harris Centre were successful in increasing this number to 20. The CSC NL and the Harris Centre reviewed a number of potential candidates and issued invitations to those individuals who were felt to be most suitable for this initial session.