An important extension to the Advanced Strategy Lab (ASL) capabilities is the ability to now facilitate electronic brainstorming sessions directly over the Internet in an approach we call Advanced Strategy Lab Online. ASL Online allows us to conduct real time sessions over the Internet with 20-30 participants with a simultaneous data connection for brainstorming and a voice conference call for facilitation and dialogue. Sessions generally last between 1 and 2 hours and have been received very well by the participants as well as the sponsoring client organizations.
“Tool provided an excellent platform for global input on significant issues facing the organization. What I liked most was the pace and clarity of facilitation. Yes… I would recommend this process for other strategic projects.” (Honeywell Industry Solutions participants)
“It was EXCELLENT!! I truly enjoyed using the technology and it forces us to think of more cost effective approaches of having meetings. It saved several of hundreds of $ in travel and time. I loved the convenience of my office–and NOT fighting an airport. Let’s do it again!” (Banner Health System participant)
“Excellent tool. Very simple to follow, and a very efficient way to catalog unedited responses from so many people. Encouraging when you see agreement out there for your ideas. Eye opening when you don’t; This process connects us in a new way for gaining feedback that can make a difference.” (Universal Technical Institute participant)
How does and ASL Online session operate? Here’s the general sequence of events and what’s required:
SPONSORING EXECUTIVE/PROJECT REQUIREMENT: Often times there is a need for direct input by members of an organization on strategic planning, employee alignment/development, project planning or marketing planning. In addition to internal sessions, we are also seeing a significant number of sessions where the organization/client is looking for feedback/input from its external business clients, or even direct consumers/customers;
SESSION AGENDA/KEY QUESTIONS: Similar to our face to face brainstorming sessions, our pre-planning session effort is to work directly with the sponsoring client and identify a set of key questions and desired outcomes. Often times these are open-ended questions, evaluation of specific strategy areas, and identification of critical next steps. This set of questions is then loaded into a specific Internet tool that supports our Online process;
PARTICIPANT IDENTIFICATION AND NOTIFICATION: Participants are identified, invited or recruited to a specific session. To be in an ASL Online session, participants need an active browser with Internet access (it is assumed that participants have reasonable internet knowledge/navigation skill), and simultaneous voice access for the conference call that is conducted during the session. A userid and password are established for the participant, and instructions are sent by email on any preparation for the session and the date and time for the session;
CONNECTION WINDOW AND SESSION URL: We have found that it is VERY important to be timely in initiating the call and getting all participants logged on. We run a connection window just prior to the session start that has all participants sign onto a specific URL that hosts our session, enter their userid and password, and be logged into the actual session agenda. In addition, they then join our conference call for a planned voice roll call right at the start of the session;
FACILITATOR ROLE AND CLIENT OBSERVERS: A trained facilitator then introduces the session, desired objectives, and background on the ASL Online methodology. Because we are operating over the Internet, the client team can be logged onto the session and observing the session as well, interacting with the facilitator as appropriate;
SESSION RESULTS AND DOCUMENTATION:A typical session will last 1 to 2 hours and a complete session output document can be pulled from the session, formatted and then emailed to the client for direct review. In addition, the session can be archived for further analysis by the facilitator or client team.
Our Advanced Strategy Center is currently using the WIQ collaborative toolset to support our sessions. One of the most important reasons for using this tool is that it is entirely browser based…there are no downloads or plug-ins required. Not only does this simplify set up for our participants, but it eliminates nearly all firewall and proxy server issues. If you can connect to the Internet, you can connect to the ASL Online sessions using WIQ.
There are two ways that we can run ASL Online sessions. Our most typical session is when nearly all participants are coming in from separate locations or rooms. This is truly a virtual session environment and participants can literally be anywhere in the world. A second implementation is a blended session where there is a base group or perhaps 10 or so participants in one room (all with their own workstation access), but typically with the facilitator and in a ‘face-to-face setting’. Joining them in the same ‘virtual session’ are invited participants from other geographic locations. This blended session can be based at the Center in Scottsdale, or any other location with broadband internet access.
Advanced Strategy Center
26546 North Alma School Road Suite 240 Scottsdale, Arizona 85255