The Growth Channel

From tweets to casino bets: 3 ways to engage participants at your next planning retreat

by Anna Yakovenko and Mouli Chakravarty

Each year, health system planners gather leadership teams for a retreat to discuss the strategic future of their organization. These retreats have the potential to catalyze major decisions by soliciting feedback and gaining stakeholder buy-in—but all too often, retreats fail to arrive at these goals because they don't engage participants in meaningful discussion. 

To ensure your retreat solicits critical thinking and strategic decision-making, try using these three discussion exercises:

1. Role-playing exercise

Goal: Craft a plan to address market uncertainties

To craft a plan that address major changes in your market or threats to the organization, consider a role-play or scenario planning exercise. Assign participants the role of a competitor, payer, or patient. Then, play-out organizational reactions to various market disruptions. If your leadership team is interested in scoping a new partnership, for example, this exercise could uncover the underlying assumptions of various stakeholders and forecast the partnership's impact across the greater market. 

Turn to our new Scenario Planning Workshop Guide at your next retreat to theorize organizational responses to future scenarios.

Download the Guide

2. Imaginary tweet exercise

Goal: Learn how to solicit stakeholder input on strategic issues

To surface pointed insights regarding about an issue, such as emerging consumerism across the system, form small discussion groups. Have groups summarize the biggest insights resulting from discussion in "Tweet form" (under Twitter's standard 140-character-maximum limit). Distilling thoughts on large strategic initiatives down to just a few words will help your leadership team identify the most salient takeaways.

3. Casino bet exercise

Goal: Develop stakeholder buy-in on strategic issues

A recent Harvard Business Review article showed that gambling exercises can actually aid strategic thinking and group decision-making by forcing participants to place and defend bets on future revenue sources.

To incorporate a casino bet exercise in your retreat, provide small groups with poker chips (or similar, small standardized objects). Then ask participants to allocate their chips, representing the organization's annual budget, across business lines. Once the groups' bets are analyzed, participants can defend their decisions, attempt to persuade others of their bets, and ultimately discuss areas of conflicting priorities.


Create a presentation-ready plan

Download our strategic plan template for guidance on the four steps of the strategic planning process

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Next, learn the anatomy of a great meeting

Meetings. Can't live with them. Can't have a workday without them. Why? Because many meetings are inefficiently run. They don’t set or achieve clear goals. And we hold them out of habit.

It's clear that many meetings are unnecessary. But if you do have to assemble, download this infographic to learn the simple solutions to make that meeting a sucess.

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