“Becky, Thank you for a very well run, efficient and effective series of online workshops – you have managed to drag some really good information from us whilst maintaining a collegiate and amenable style. Thank you”
In March 2020, Becky Hirst Consulting was engaged to undertake some Direction Planning to help the newly appointed Landscape Board Presiding Members to articulate the purpose and focus for their shared meetings over the coming years. This planning was following a large state government reform process, including the passing of a new parliamentary Act. The process would include clarifying their shared purpose, strategic goals and priorities, and would identify how they would like to work together in the context of the ongoing NRM/Landscape reform.
The end goal of the work was to enable a high functioning collective of Chairs from a number of boards across the state. It was seen as important for the incoming Chairs to start their collective efforts on ‘the right foot’ and shape their own agenda clearly.
The work had intended to take place via a face-to-face 3 hour workshop during April 2020. However, with the sudden onset of the COVID-19 global health pandemic, a new approach was required. This presented both challenges and opportunities.
Given the current global climate of the inability to meet face-to-face, a staged process of Direction Planning was proposed and accepted. The staged process included three-steps via three video conference calls, of one-hour each over a period of three weeks.
The three sessions focussed on the efficient and effective planning process of NOW-WHERE-HOW. This 3-step process ensured that the direction of the collective efforts of the Presiding Members did not simply become an operational plan, focusing on how meetings are run, or seeing the group stuck on an endless journey, without a destination.
Instead, a concise One-Page Direction Plan was be created that focused on the here and now of expectations, legislation, stakeholders and more; the end vision of the collective and some of the practical steps needed to be in place to move together from the ‘this is where we are now’ to the ‘this is where we want to be’.
Taking this staged approach enabled a well thought through process to be led using video conferencing and interactive online workshopping technology.
Becky facilitated the sessions pulling on her expertise in bringing energy to group processes, using a mix of warm ups (to predominately test the technology), brainstorming, discussions, quizzes (to maintain high energy and provide a break in thinking) and instant workshop evaluation.
Rather than running a single three-hour session, these ‘bite-size’ one-hour sessions not only enabled considered progress to be made over time, but enabled participants to remain engaged, involved and active for the entirety of each one-hour workshop.
An added bonus of this approach was high efficiency and outputs for lower budget and better time efficiency, with no travel requirements (with participants based all over South Australia) or physical room and catering bookings. Whilst the group were not all highly digitally literate, instructions for logging in to the workshops were kept simple and support was provided in regional offices for those who needed it.