Participatory Strategic Planning

Who this course is for
The course is suitable for all those who want to be able to involve people more effectively in planning and implementing medium to long-term strategies together, including team leaders and managers within organizations, those working with Boards, management teams, partnerships and external stakeholders, youth and community workers and independent facilitators.

Questions this course answers

"How can I enable my group to come to a common vision for their future? How can I help them make their vision happen by creatively addressing the root causes of the challenges that are blocking them, rather than focus simply on fire-fighting and problem-solving? How can I ensure a real sense of ownership, so that for once their plan actually happens?"

The course presents a structured long-range planning process which incorporates the Consensus Workshop method for building consensus, the Focused Conversation method for effective group communication and an implementation process for turning ideas into productive action and concrete accomplishments.
Those with more experience of facilitation, strategic planning may need no further support to apply the process effectively in their own situations, and for others the course serves as a powerful, experiential introduction to the process.
During the two-day course the participants will learn an advanced method from the Technology of Participation (ToP®) series, developed by ICA:

Introduction to Participatory Strategic Planning
The Participatory Strategic Planning is a process, which takes a group step by step to develop a plan in a participatory way, which will be owned and supported by everyone. This process is dynamic, participatory, flexible and realistic. It relies on the several mental steps in the decision making process. In the course the four planning phases are demonstrated and talked through.

  • How do you design a clear focus question for your planning process?
  • What methods can you use to create group participation?
  • How do you use group exercises and stories to create the right state of thinking?

1. Practical Vision

This first step of the strategic planning emphasises on the future vision
that a target group has in mind.

  • How do you arrive at a balanced focus of the planning process?
  • What are the perspectives and concrete images for the future?
  • What do we want to see in place 3 to 5 years from now?

2. Underlying Contradictions

In the second stage of the planning process the current situation is analysed.

  • What is blocking us from realising our vision?
  • What are the underlying causes that stop us from meeting our goals?
  • What social patterns and behaviour are lying underneath?

3. Strategic Directions

The third phase of the planning activates the strategic thinking of participants.

  • How can we take away the contradictions?
  • What actions can we take to realise our vision?
  • What future direction can we take from them?

4. Implementation Planning

The final stage of the planning forces participants to formulate concrete and realistic goals and activities that will be implemented.

  • What objectives can we commit ourselves to for the next 18 months?
  • What activities will we implement the coming 3 months?
  • How are we going to co-ordinate this?

The Participatory Strategic Planning (PSP) Course is suitable for:

  • Executives, Professionals, and people actively involved in Business Sector, NGO Sector, Churches, Government and Fund-raising Agencies.
  • Field staff with no previous experience of facilitation who wishes to develop their strategic plans.
  • Existing Organisations who wish to learn new skills or deepen their knowledge in participatory facilitation skills.
  • Experienced facilitators who wish to refresh their skills and expand their knowledge.
  • Group Facilitation Methods (GFM) course graduates.

These methods can be used in an infinite number of situations. When creatively combined and adapted, these methods serve as powerful tools for any size group to think and work together creatively and productively.

Course set up

The two-day Participatory Strategic Planning course is set up in a highly participatory way. Methods will be demonstrated, talked through and practised. Participants will get a practical and comprehensive manual to take home to use these methods in their work.

Technology of Participation
Participatory Strategic Planning Course Overview
Day One
Day Two

Session One

Session Two

Session Three
Strategic Directions

Session Four

Introductory Conversation

Participant-Led Discussion
Participant-Led Discussion

Implementation Planning Demonstration

Course Introduction Overview and Focus Question

Contradictions Workshop Demonstration

Strategic Directions Workshop


Vision Workshop Demonstration


Contradictions Naming Exercise

Strategic Directions Expression Exercise

Closing Reflection & Evaluation

The Participatory Strategic Planning course is an advanced course in the Technology of Participation (ToP®) series. It builds on the Group Facilitation Methods (GFM) course and uses methods like the Focused Conversation and Consensus Workshop. It is helpful for participants to be GFM-graduates; however, this is not a prerequisite. Other advanced ToP-courses include Secrets of Implementation and Training of Trainers.

What you will gain
By the end of the course, you will

  • have enhanced your capacity for creative strategy building by exploring and understanding the four stages and the flow of the Participatory Strategic Planning process, and the four associated types of thinking – visionary, contradictional, strategic and practical
  • be able to identify when and how to use the Participatory Strategic Planning process
  • have consolidated your understanding of the Focused Conversation and Consensus Workshop methods and gained confidence to use and adapt them
  • have further developed your links with others to promote future collaboration and support in the use of the methods.


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