In a previous post, I talked about a couple of instances where I worked with folks to let them ‘pick my brain’. Those were about learning design in particular, but I’ve also worked with folks on strategy. In these strategy sessions, things work a little differently.
So, in a typical strategy session, I prepare by looking at what they’ve done beforehand: any existing strategy documents. I also look at their current context, e.g. their business, market, customers, and products/services. Finally, I look at their stated goals. I also explore their stated needs, and see if there are some they may be missing. Then we get together.
I typically will spend an hour or so going over some principles, so we have a shared framework to discuss against. Then we brainstorm possible actions. We’ve prepped for this, circulating the space for topics, so people have had time to identify their individual ideas. We get them documented, diverging before converging. This may be a relatively large group, with representative stakeholders, but not so large that it can’t be managed.
Then, typically, a smaller group will take those ideas and prioritize them. To be clear, it’s informed by the context and infrastructure, so that the steps don’t just go from easier to harder, but it’s also about choosing steps that are strategic in securing credibility, building capacity, and leveraging other initiatives. At the end, however, the team I’m working with has both a general roadmap and a specific plan.
And I think this is good. They’ve gotten some new and valuable ways to think about strategy, and custom advice, all in a very short engagement. Sometimes it’s happened under the rubric of a mobile strategy, sometime’s it’s more general, but it always open eyes. In two particular instances, I recall that the outcomes they ended up focusing on most weren’t even on their radar when they started!
This is another instance of how folks can get high benefit from a small engagement. Picking my brain can be valuable, but it’s not a fair engagement unless we make it mutually rewarding. That’s not so hard to do, however. Just so you know.