Saturday 8 October 2011

Highlights Awayday

Great Strategy Day yesterday with Highlights Rural Touring.  Jane is a Board member, and a neighbour in the village is Chair, so I was very well briefed!  Moreover, having recently led a two day Facilitation Skills Programme for Akzo Nobel, I was being particularly mindful of my planning and faciltation - and that paid off.

We agreed to use a village hall as the venue.  Their last strategy day (unwisely facilitated by someone else) had been held at a hotel conference centre, and they'd apparently got little done in the afternoon, partly thanks to the big lunch!

But we thought a village hall was more appropriate, as their business is bringing arts (music, theatre, a craft show etc) to rural village halls.

We were made very welcome at Soulby, with a light lunch (delicious soups and a fabulous range of home-made puddings) and cakes and biscuits throughout the day.  The bill for the whole day for 14 of us, including food, was less than £130 - so will be exploring village halls for other clients!

The day itself went very well: they have a good Board and good staff, all well-informed (and having read the pre-work!) and up for creative and purposeful discussions.  In the morning, after the introductions, we reviewed the last period to recognise successes and extract the learning.  We also identified the major strategic issues that needed discussion, and four groups spent a significant amount of time scoping the territory of one or other of these, generating ideas, and identifying next steps to take it forward.

After a light but delicious lunch (qv) we heard from each group, and interestingly, although they had been looking at different issues, some common next steps emerged, that would address several of these strategic priorities.  So we prioritised them with sticky dots, and put names against them to take them forward.

After tea and some home-made cakes (which none of us needed, but somehow many were eaten....) we looked at how the Board and Staff were working together, and wrapped up the day by checking the degree to which the objectives and peoples' individual expectations had been met - and whether there was any further work to be done.

A very productive day, with high levels of energy, creativity and enthusiasm throughout: on that basis I am confident Highlights will have a very successful season, even in the challenging climate in which they find themselves.

And if you live in Northumberland, Durham or Cumbria, look out for their shows in ia village near you: always well worth a visit!

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