Strategic Planning Facilitation

Only 10% of organizations successfully implement and execute strategic planning—and half of leadership teams dedicate little to no time to it. Yet 75% of successful companies operate with a strategic plan in place. See how strategic planning can help your organization succeed.

What Is Strategic Planning?

A strategic plan is the compass guiding an organization toward its desired destination. Strategic planning, therefore, is the process of crafting this methodology. When leadership teams converge to assess their current status accurately, chart the course for their organization, and outline the necessary actions to reach their goals, they are actively engaging in strategic planning. Surprisingly, many small to mid-sized companies forego this crucial process.

The StratOp Method

As a strategic planning consultant, I specialize in facilitating the StratOp process. This method, pioneered by Tom Paterson over five decades ago, is rooted in the Paterson Process, which navigates strategic planning through six distinct phases. This Socratic approach to planning results in a comprehensive strategic and operational process that fosters growth and effectiveness.

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The Six Phases of Strategic Planning

Let's delve into each phase and understand why and how they play a vital role in the strategic planning process:

Phase 1: Perspective

The StratOp Process begins with perspective. “Perspective before planning” is the key to success. If you have the right perspective, the strategic plan almost writes itself. In the perspective phase, the strategic planning facilitator guides the team in tightly defining the current state of the organization. StratOp uses a variety of tools necessary to help gain perspective on all the critical organizational issues.

Phase 2: Core Plan

Once a team has the proper perspective, they then have the wisdom to develop a living core strategic plan. The team will also have a rationale for its plan, as well as a set of shared fundamental beliefs upon which to develop this plan. Asking the question, “Where are we headed?”, this phase builds the core plan from the perspective gained in the previous phase. These core plan components include strategic, operational, and financial assumptions; an organizational performance model; a set of performance drivers; key differentiating strategies; target customer definition; and company mission, vision, and core values.

Phase 3: Action

After the core plan phase, the team now knows definitively where the company is going and is ready to move forward as one group. This is one of the key benefits of the StratOp process: silos are often broken down, and strategic growth now involves the whole team. The team-developed core plan serves as the basis for creating a unified action plan. We do this by reviewing the core plan and asking, “What’s Important Now? (W.I.N.)” The answer allows the team to focus on quarterly goals and initiatives, all of which help to achieve company objectives.

Phase 4: Structure

Form follows function. The overriding purpose of structure is to ensure that the right decisions get made in the right way, and in accordance with the plan.  With a core plan and its resulting action plan in place, the structural requirements needed to implement will be addressed. The strategic planning consultant will facilitate and coach to make sure organizational structure, culture, systems, processes, and staffing all support the plan.

Phase 5: Management

The StratOp process provides ongoing, regular feedback and accountability to help manage strategic plan implementation. The strategic planning facilitator meets quarterly with the team and asks, “How are we doing?” The team learns how to manage the plan via weekly, monthly, and quarterly reviews.

Phase 6: Renewal

Each year, the leadership team comes together to review and renew the entire strategic plan. At this session, facilitated by the strategic planning consultant, fresh perspective is gained. Then, current action items, opportunities, patterns, trends, objectives, and goals are all reset for the coming year. The StratOp process begins again.

Part of strategic planning is determining what kind of people are on your team and learning how to best delegate tasks in a manner that maximizes the outcome. The Thinking Wavelength is a talent assessment tool that uncovers the blend of creative/abstract and practical/concrete thinkers in your organization.

To gain a broader understanding of your current standing and begin the development of your plan and goals, ask yourself the following questions that are offered in this tool: What is right? What is wrong? What is confusing? What is missing? Your team will come away with a much better grasp of how to move forward with realistic, appropriate steps.

Just as your business is ever-evolving and transitioning, so is the outside world and its patterns and trends. This tool allows a way to easily identify, map, and plan for these inevitable changes, whether they’re beneficial or detrimental to your business.

Most use a SWOT analysis to determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats holistically. In StratOp, we use it as part of the action phase. When a team is put together, they use this tool to gather perspective relative to the initiative they are about to embark on. The process creates a natural outflow for developing an initiative project plan.

What Does a Strategic Planning Facilitator Do?

As a strategic planning facilitator, my role extends to crafting the structure and process for your strategic planning sessions, leading your organization's onsite planning meetings, and guiding the development of your company's strategic plan. I often remind my clients, "I'm the process—you're the content."

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Jay’s Strategic Planning Consulting Services

With over two decades of experience in leading organizations through strategic planning, I adopt a collaborative approach focused on asking the right questions, making astute observations, and working through proven constructs. My clients achieve clarity of direction, team cohesion, and exponential growth through the StratOp approach.

What Are the Benefits of Working with a Strategic Planning Facilitator?

Many companies have experienced the transformative benefits of collaborating with an external strategic planning facilitator, including:


For many small to mid-sized companies, the ability to think strategically is not a predominant trait. That’s not a slam on anyone, it’s just an observation. Often, these companies are led by industry experts whose talent and value is the ability to execute. Having strategic experience from the outside is a big plus for these companies.


Seeing the forest for the trees is a huge benefit that an outside strategic planning facilitator can bring. I’m often told, “You have a great ability to see things we can’t”. Actually, it’s just that I see it from the outside, a view that those inside the company don’t have. That proves to be beneficial, especially as we are gathering perspective.

Conflict Resolution

Because of the outside, third-party perspective that I bring as a strategic plan facilitator, I’m able to rally differing views in a unique way. I encourage each department to speak to other areas beyond their own, creating a horizontal exchange of ideas. This approach is where breakthroughs happen and where conflict is reduced.


There’s just something about having an outside third party guiding and keeping the team accountable. Over the years, I’ve repeatedly heard comments such as, “I can’t believe we have achieved so much in such a short time,” or, “I knew you were coming in for our quarterly review, and I didn’t want to let the team down, so I completed my initiative tasks.” Teams work more efficiently when they know someone’s “watching” from the outside.


Often, the task of strategy is the domain of the leadership team. StratOp is different. Although the leadership team develops the plan, StratOp is designed to have the implementation of the plan cascade down through the organization. When that happens, the entire team rallies around the long-term and short-term objectives. When everyone is rowing together, the results are significant.

Professional Development

There’s an additional benefit that my clients receive from working with me as a strategic planning facilitator. I’m also a leadership coach. In addition to helping teams create and execute their plan, I can come alongside the executive team and help them develop as leaders. This one-two punch (strategy and development) has had a profound effect on the companies with which I work.

Schedule a Strategic Planning Session

If you have read this far, perhaps you’d like to learn more. If you're interested in learning more, I invite you to schedule a consultation to explore how strategic planning facilitation can propel your company forward.