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Creating a Process Plan and Road Map 41 · Pamphlets, brochures, newsletters. Progress, results, and activities conducted as part of the strategic planning process can be documented through the use of pamphlets, brochures, or newsletters. Pamphlets, brochures, or newsletters should be used when regular communica- tion is necessary (monthly, quarterly, and so forth). The production of pamphlets, brochures, or newsletters presents several advantages. They can be produced electronically for large or small audiences and can include significant details. However, they would require a printing and production budget when produced in hard copy. · Draft strategic plan. A draft of the organization's strategic plan can be presented to stake- holders at meetings. · Email database. A comprehensive project email database including all stakeholders can be compiled early in the planning process. This database can then be used to communicate with stakeholders. · Presentations. The planning team can set up presentations to discuss the organization's strategic plan, distribute information to stakeholders, provide information on the planning process, and help build support for implementation of the plan. · Electronic memoranda/emails. Electronic memoranda/emails can be used to communicate broad themes, applicable to the entire audience, or a personalized message. Electronic memoranda/emails can be used solicit feedback from stakeholders; inform them about the progress, results, and activities conducted as part of the process; or invite them to meetings or workshops. Stakeholders are more likely to respond to an email message that they have received than take the time to send a message to an email address listed in a newsletter. · PowerPoint presentations. PowerPoint presentations can be used to raise stakeholder aware- ness and provide detailed or high-level project information. Presentations are generally used to present materials in a more formal setting, present key points, and obtain buy-in and sup- port. Presentations can be used for audiences of differing levels, and the message can be deliv- ered differently based on the audience. · Mailers. Mailers are best used when targeting stakeholders outside the organization. Mailers can be used to distribute large volumes of information, which the reader can take time to read and digest. The production and postage costs, however, are major drawbacks of mailers. · Meetings and "brown bag" sessions. Meetings and brown bag sessions can take place regu- larly during the planning process to keep stakeholders informed, solicit feedback, and evaluate opinions or reactions to a project or issues. 3.7 Defining Who Should Facilitate the Strategic Planning Sessions The strategic planning sessions can be led by a member of the core planning team or by an outside facilitator. Professional consensus-building facilitators offer the benefit of experience in group dynamics to maximize individual participation and reach milestones. Knowing what has worked and what has failed in other instances is useful expertise. Listed below are the key bene- fits that facilitators can provide and some potential drawbacks. Benefits of engaging a professional facilitator include the following: · A designated person keeps order and the process on track. · Facilitators provide fair assessments of organizations. · The core planning team is freed up to get involved in the process without worrying about process issues. · Facilitators are immune to internal conflicts. · Facilitators are trained professionals who can handle conflicts and focus the group's attention on key issues.
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42 Strategic Planning in the Airport Industry · Facilitators generally have several years of experience and have worked for several organi- zations. As such, facilitators offer a wealth of experience and can offer insights, ideas, and an outside perspective. Drawbacks of engaging a professional facilitator include the following: · Some external stakeholders may prefer to work directly with the management of the organi- zation. · It may be difficult for an outside facilitator to lead the planning sessions if the invited partic- ipants and the facilitator do not have a good working relationship and the atmosphere is not genuinely collaborative. · Engaging a facilitator can be time consuming and challenging. · Engaging a facilitator will result in additional costs. 3.7.1 Finding a Facilitator There are four basic steps to finding a facilitator: · Identify the candidates. · Check the candidates' references or prior work. · Narrow the list of candidates to those that will be interviewed; consider issuing a Request for Qualifications (RFQ). · Interview the candidates. In an interview, observe each candidate's personality, style of interaction, and ability to communicate effectively. Airport managers may also decide to draw upon their own professional networks to identify prospective facilitators/strategic planning consultants or issue an RFQ or Request for Propos- als (RFP). Select a facilitator by completing Worksheet 3.06, "Scoring Guide for Selecting an External Facilitator." 3.7.2 Developing and Implementing the Scope of Work Once selected, the facilitator should work in collaboration with the core planning team to develop a scope of work. This scope should define the role of the facilitator and map out the tasks that the core planning team expects the facilitator to accomplish. This scope should include the number of meetings to be led by the facilitator and the tasks to be accomplished. The scope of work is generally accompanied by a project schedule that reflects the length of time expected to be required to produce the organization's strategic plan. Generally, the facilitator and the core planning team will use the RFQ or RFP as the basis for refining the scope of work.
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Creating a Process Plan and Road Map 43 CASE STUDY Selecting a Strategic Planning Facilitator--Chicago Executive Airport (Wheeling, Illinois) Chicago Executive Airport (the Airport) is one of the busiest airports in Illinois and serves as a reliever airport for the region. The Airport is publicly owned by the municipalities of the City of Prospect Heights and the Village of Wheeling, and is managed by the Chicago Executive Air- port Board of Directors under an intergovernmental cooperative between the two municipalities. The Airport has three active runways, approximately 410 acres of land, and is home to approximately three hundred gen- eral aviation aircraft. The Airport serves as a key building block and powerful economic engine for both com- munities and the surrounding region.a To promote the Airport's continued growth and strength in the community, Airport management initiated a strategic planning process. A facilitator was selected to lead the process for several reasons. A facilitator was viewed as better able to assemble the numerous stakeholders and get them involved in the process. Also, Air- port management believed it was the best option politically to have an independent facilitator leading the process to ensure that the process remained neutral and did not favor one community over the other. Airport management selected a facilitator experienced in working with governmental agencies who had previ- ous experience with the stakeholders and was highly regarded by them. Once the facilitator was selected, the Airport Manager met with the facilitator to explain the unique issues facing the Airport and to define the scope of work, which included involving as many stakeholders as possible. The strategic planning process included more meetings than might typically be held in a similar process, based upon the Airport's political his- tory and the desire to allow sufficient time to develop a realistic and implementable strategic plan that was supported by all the stakeholders. The major tasks that were led by the facilitator included stakeholder inter- views and resident surveys, a Board retreat and a major stakeholder focus group, business-specific focus groups, the establishment of strategic directions, and the training of staff. Given the Airport's ownership structure, an outside, independent facilitator leading the strategic planning process ensured that the process remained neutral and didn't favor the needs of one community or the other. Having been through the strategic planning process, Airport staff recommends use of a facilitator with experi- ence in this process and in the industry. The facilitator must be highly credible with the stakeholders and must be able to elicit responses from the stakeholders and ensure the establishment of benchmarks to ultimately measure compliance with the plan. a Chicago Executive Airport, www.palwaukee.org/index.html (accessed May 28, 2009).