Where Next? What First?

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The Approach

The Chair and Chief Executive of the charity had already planned to approach the problem through a two-hour workshop to which all staff and trustees had been invited. They simply wanted the OR volunteer to facilitate the workshop.

The OR volunteer met the Chair and Chief Executive the week before the workshop to understand the issues facing the organisation, and the outcomes they wanted from the workshop and longer term. The first challenge was to work out how anything useful could be achieved from such a short workshop; especially bearing in mind that this was the first such workshop the organisation had held.

Following the meeting, the volunteer agreed an agenda for the workshop, together with advance materials that gave a springboard to discussion without detracting from engagement at the workshop itself. This enabled a smooth and productive workshop, with collective agreement on next steps.

“The volunteer quickly understood what we were trying to achieve, and designed a workshop which helped us achieve our objectives in a very short space of time. The involvement in this phase of our strategy development helped us to have a new kind of conversation as an organisation.” 

The Client

The Disability Law Service provides legal advice to disabled people and their families/carers.

The Client's Problem

With funding cuts to themselves, but ever-growing needs from their beneficiaries as the consequences of austerity bite, the organisation needed to develop a sustainable set of priorities – and bring staff with them.

The Solution

  • A draft workshop agenda to enable the Chair and Chief Executive to focus on what they really wanted to achieve
  • Information circulated to all workshop participants to enable them to think in advance about key issues, especially their mission and vision
  • A pre-workshop email-based SWOT exercise to provide starter material for the workshop
  • A fast and focused facilitated workshop, with write-up delivered soon after

The Benefits

  • Participants, including all staff and most trustees, were brought to the same point in thinking about what the organisation is trying to achieve, and what challenges it faces
  • Participants reached a shared understanding of the strengths and weaknesses that they could exploit, or needed to build on, in future planning
  • Together with the list of options generated at the meeting, this gave a sound basis for future strategy development and prioritisation