Strategic Planning, Meeting, and Retreat Facilitation

Having a designated, third-party facilitator helps all attendees focus on the subject at hand. A facilitator "makes easy!" She utilizes a number of facilitation techniques to ensure full participation, buy-in, and the use of both logical and creative thinking.

A facilitator can see things from a "forest" perspective. She can bypass political and power positions to ask the difficult, hard, or "elephant in the room" questions.

To "facilitate" is " make easier."
The facilitator doesn't set the goals, make the plans, or resolve issues. The facilitator makes it easier for the organization or group to do so.

To "facilitate" is " make easier."

The facilitator doesn't set the goals, make the plans, or resolve issues. The facilitator makes it easier for the organization or group to do so

When Should You Use a Facilitator?

You should bring in a facilitator whenever you have specific objectives for gathering a group of people and desire full participation. Facilitators can be either in-house or from outside the organization. Facilitators from outside the organization can provide a neutral third-party perspective that is often hard to achieve from a staff person.

It can also be helpful for the facilitator to have an understanding of the particular industry-speak or vocabulary of the group being gathered. This can help the facilitator to ask specific questions to gain mutual understanding within the group and address those "elephant-in-the-room" issues.

Carol Warkoczewski has been in the design and construction industry for over 28 years, with experience in healthcare, research, classroom, library, office, and other building types. She has a unique understanding of this industry and the project issues often encountered. Additionally, she has experience working with and within non-profits and governmental agencies.

"Carol -- thanks so much for your efforts in facilitating our strategic planning process over the past several days. You did a great job. In fact, you did more than just facilitate the sessions; you inserted yourself in our group in a way that made us feel you had a genuine interest in making us better. That isn't an easy thing to do for an "outsider" (I use that term carefully) but you did it.

Thanks again for helping us. We will be a better organization as a result."

Bill Throop, Director, Project Management and Construction Services, The University of Texas at Austin

  • Meetings - General and team meetings where ideas will be shared or problems addressed. Whenever there are multiple stakeholders involved there needs to be someone to "hold the floor" and keep the meeting on track.
  • Strategic Planning - Strategic Planning are useful for Boards, Trustees, and Councils; community organizations, project managers, and teams of all kinds to develop the organizational or project vision, set strategic goals, collaborate to find creative solutions, focus on understand organizational strengths and weaknesses, advance group values, build mutual trust, schedules, and establish work plans, expectations, and responsibilities.
  • Retreats - Either on-site or off-site, retreats are often used to focus on strategic planning or team-building. These are often multi-day or weekend events that include activities to stimulate and grow creativity, communication, and mutual trust.

What Will I Do as Your Facilitator?
  • I will work with you to develop the agenda and the meeting/workshop objectives and outcomes.
  • I will have preliminary consultations with the participants or stakeholder representatives to introduce myself and gain a better understanding of issues and personalities.
  • I will set ground rules to allow everyone to be heard in a respectful, non-reactive way.
  • I will make use of my experience and multiple tools and techniques to enable each participant and the group as a whole to employ both the logical and creative parts of their brains, and also to keep the group energized and engaged.
  • I will act as a neutral third party (mediator) if a dispute arises in the course of a meeting.
  • I will look out for the good of the group as a whole and not be attached to a particular outcome.
  • I will listen carefully and respond in a flexible manner to the needs of the group and of individuals.
  • I will provide a useful and attractive document of Outcomes as a record of the event and decisions made (when contracted to do so).

Why Use Synergy Builders?
  • Experience - Carol has over twenty five years of facilitation experience with a variety of groups, including state agencies, city departments, and project teams, project meetings, work groups, project improvement teams, and as a speaker, trainer, and presenter.
  • A Cadre of Professionals - We have available to us a cadre of experienced professionals to help "fill-in" any knowledge or experience gaps to make sure your event provides a quality and meaningful experience for all attendees and meets all stated goals and outcomes.
  • Pre-workshop Planning - We will spend as much time as needed with you and others as needed to understand the goals and outcomes desired, set the agenda, clarify roles and responsibilities, and plan the entire event if you'd like.
  • Pro-activity - Before using an activity, we will consider modify the characteristics of the participants and the purpose of the activity and make any modifications needed.
  • Flexibility and Adaptability - We will monitor the group and change approaches or focus as needed.
  • Responsiveness - We will make modifications during the course of the meeting or activity to keep different tensions (structure, pace, interaction, focus, control, and concern) within acceptable ranges.
  • Resilience - We will accept whatever happens (without taking it personally) as valuable data and smoothly continue with the meeting or activity.