Facilitation Friday #33: Outcome(s) and Output

When preparing the agenda for a meeting, planning session, or workshop, we often begin with establishing the overall outcome(s) for the event.  Here's the established outcome for an upcoming one-day joint board of directors and senior staff retreat I am facilitating:  

Clarified and calibrated roles, responsibilities, and relationships between/among Board of Managers and Executive Resource Team that produce accelerated progress on the organization's strategic plan.

Evaluating success at the end of the retreat can be measured simply by asking: have we clarified and calibrated roles and responsibilities to accelerate progress on the strategic plan?

Achieving that outcome becomes more probably by shifting your thinking from outcome(s) to output.  What output needs to be appearing as we move from the start of the event to the finish line of our stated outcome(s)

For the eight hours of this retreat, we selected the following questions as catalysts for the desired output of the journey, each question anchoring an individual 60-90 minute retreat segment.
  1. Who is here and what do we need to know about each other in order to work together effectively?
  2. What is our work and what is each entity uniquely positioned to do?
  3. What must occur in order for every individual to “own” the plan, support its strategy, and leverage the contributions they are uniquely positioned to make?
  4. What contributions are required from individuals and what support do they need in order to be successful?
  5. What should meetings look like and what communications needs to occur before/between them in order for us to be successful?
  6. What commitments do we make to each other moving forward and what actions will each entity be taking?
Once guiding questions are sequenced appropriately, you can craft the various activities and additional discussion questions for each segment. This is true for a workshop, retreat, or planning session.

So the next time you go to design the outline and content flow for an event you are facilitating, try thinking in terms of both outcome and output.  It may help you shape a more powerful learning and community-building experience.

If you'd like me to develop a custom half-day or full-day facilitation skills program for your organization, simply complete this form.   I will only be doing 10 such sessions in 2013 and reservations are on a first come, first serve basis, so act now.

Every Friday in 2012, I post information and insights about effective facilitation, sharing some of the content and thinking I provide in the one-day and half-day facilitation workshops that groups often engage me to present.  You can find previous posts by searching for the tag: facilitationfriday.

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