- If you want to ensure a level playing field between the CEO and the team members: The outside facilitator has the skills to make sure the CEO does not take over and run the meeting. It is extremely difficult if not impossible for the CEO or other inside person to effectively facilitate because the other people will still react to the CEO or inside person as their superior thus limiting open, honest, feedback and discussion.
- If you want to complete the process in a timely manner and profit from the time a team spends in planning: The facilitator will commit to making sure you finish the process in the time allotted.
- When you need to address sensitive issues and conflicts: An outsider brings the benefit of a dispassionate perspective and can more effectively diffuse arguments and channel intense moments into a problem solving opportunity.
- When your team is not making any progress: The outside facilitator will raise issues that you may try to avoid and will point out the dysfunctional behaviors that are being denied.
- When your group must address complex issues and diverging viewpoints: The experience of the facilitator will help to identify the issues, generate options to resolve issues, and make decisions.
In summary: A professional facilitator brings an independent and open-minded perspective to your strategic planning or team building process. He or she will keep the discussion focused, keep the process on track, and will encourage team members to act as equals in the process.
This approach has been vailidated by such experts as Timothy M. Nolan, Ph.D. , Leonard D. Goodstien, Ph.D and Jeanette Goodstein, Ph.D. We utilize many of the concepts they write about in their book Applied Strategic Planning.