Strategic Planning Road Trip
â€œStrategic Planning Road Tripâ€
Depends on the group, but can include:
Â· ID short-term goals and long-term project/campaign timeline
Â· Develop shared understanding of possible implications of undertaking a complex initiative
Â· Support consideration of many factors in setting a plan
Â· At least 90 minutes
Â· Youâ€™ll need about 72â€x 96â€ (or more) of easel pad paper, taped together in a rectangle on the wall.
Ask if anyone has ever planned a wedding, or another large-scale initiative that took weeks of preparation, and may not have turned out exactly as you planned. Explain that campaigns involve many of the same moving parts. You start by answering the question, â€œwhat do we want to accomplish?â€, and build towards your ultimate goal along a defined timeline.
â€œIn this activity, weâ€™ll practice driving to our â€˜destination,â€™ and weâ€™ll take some time to consider what might happen along the way.â€
This activity requires a substantial amount of artistic prepwork. Youâ€™re going to draw the â€œvehicleâ€ of your campaign travelling on a road to victory, the â€œdestinationâ€ in the top right corner. Along the entire bottom border of the page leave several inches blank for the timeline â€“ imagine if the â€œtripâ€ began today, when would the â€œdestinationâ€ be? (If this were a grid, the x-axis would be the timeline, the y-axis tracks campaign momentum.)
Your â€œmapâ€ should highlight a few other things:
Â· Several â€œspeed bumpsâ€ or obstacles
Â· A gas station (or biodiesel/EV station, or a bike pump)
Â· A â€œrearview mirrorâ€ on the car, for collecting experience-based reflections from those present
Â· Clouds/rain looming over one segment of the road overhead
Â· At least one â€œforkâ€ in the road
Â· Milemarkers along the way
Bonus points if you can draw the roadâ€™s terrain as a series of peaks and valleys, mirroring the up-and-down nature of campaigns.
I recommend writing a large glossary on a separate page next to the â€œroadtripâ€ scene to explain the connection between the metaphors and campaign being fleshed out. Hereâ€™s a sample glossary:
â€œRearview Mirrorâ€ â€“ Lessons from the Road(s) Weâ€™ve Traveled
â€œGas Stationâ€ â€“ Resources That Will Power Us
â€œSpeed Bumps/Obstaclesâ€ â€“ That Might Keep Us from Reaching Our Goals
â€œMilemarkersâ€ â€“ Signs Weâ€™re On Our Way to the Ultimate Goal (these could be short-term goals, smaller victories)
â€œForkâ€ â€“ Directions We Could Take
â€œRest Stopâ€ â€“ How Weâ€™ll Stay Healthy & Thriving
You can add others if they seem obvious. If this is for a political campaign, for instance, there may be clear interest group opponents who want to slow your progress. You can add them as the â€œState Patrolâ€.
Split the group into teams of 3-5 participants. If the group is less than 12 people, you can have them each spend 5-10 minutes generating items in each category. For a very large group, youâ€™ll want to have each spend more time, around 20 minutes, with only one category, like â€œmilemarkers.â€ Give each group clear instructions on what theyâ€™re generating â€“ itâ€™s easy to get lost in our own metaphorical brilliance! Circulate around as they start to brainstorm to make sure theyâ€™ve got it.
After a physical warm-up or a break, have them reconvene in the large group.
You have many options for focusing the debrief depending on your goals. Getting a good list of â€œmilemarkersâ€ can be especially useful for planning â€“ the group often must work on getting to the first ones right away â€“ so I often spend more time building to consensus there, and breeze over the others.
I have also used the debrief to give the group an opportunity to â€œtasteâ€ the many considerations theyâ€™ll need to explore, and re-consider, and then re-consider again, if they decide to launch a campaign. It can also be used to help the group think about how to focus their planning research â€“ big questions often emerge about what milestones will be necessary to reach along the way, or philosophical questions about the cultural importance of breaks and celebrations, and even, crucially, the fears participants have about what might happen. Or, we could spend a lot of time thinking about our current or potential allies (â€œgasâ€ to get us from one â€œmilemarkerâ€ to the next).
Depending on your goals, have the groups write their â€œroadtripâ€ additions on post-its and place them on the wall, one at a time. If thereâ€™s time, have them come up with a roadtrip song that incorporates some of their brainstorm! This is a LONG activity, itâ€™s important to get people moving.
To end, invite the participants to turn to someone near them and discuss which of the â€œroadtripâ€ markers they think are most important for the group to address at the next meeting. Or if the group is displaying a heavy emotional energy, invite them to share their feelings with one another on launching the initiative.