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New for you: an easy way to learn about managing difficult situations and conflict in groups. Listen at home or in the car to Great Meetings! Great Results CDs:

Queasy About Conflict -- an hour-long interview with Dee and Pam on defusing conflict in groups.

Putting out Brush Fires --
a 5 CD set of 5 hour-long teleclasses on how to intervene in difficult situations. It comes with a downloadable workbook.

Click here to purchase the CDs or to learn more about how Dee and Pam can help you create Great Meetings with Great Results!

Long-Range Planning

Long-range, or strategic, planning is a way to identify what you want in the future and how you are going to get there. Whether you are looking at school buildings or curriculum, the components of the planning process are the same.

First, a group needs good information on which to base its planning. What is working well now? What are the problems? What are the external factors that will impact your future? Those are some of the questions that group members might need to answer in order to define a long-range plan.

Imagine, for example, that you are looking to prepare a long-range plan for a middle school building

  • First, you identify what everyone 1) likes about the current building and 2) what they see as the problems/potential problems with the building.
  • Gather as much information as possible about the building. For example, you might gather a structural and safety survey of the building, forecasts for school population growth/decline, and the latest thinking about good school design.
  • To gather additional background data, use the SWOT analysis technique to define the current reality and likely future impacts.
  • Engage all interested parties in creating a common vision for the future of the school building. What does it look like when it is the way you want it to be? (See previous Great Meetings article, including Visioning the Ideal: Wish, Want, Wonder and Defining the Vision.)
  • Use the group's "vision" to identify specific goals you want to achieve. Agreement on the vision and goals gets everyone headed in the same direction. If you don't know where you're going, it will be impossible to find the right road to get there.

Key Points To Take Away

--- A group needs good information on which to base its planning, including a strong understanding of the current situation.
--- Next, a group needs to develop and agree on the vision and the goals.
--- A plan for how to achieve the goals needs specific tasks and time frames; a specific person must be responsible for each task.

Once you have collected the background data and have a set vision and goals, then you can work on a plan for how to get from the present to that vision; that is the roadmap to your goals. For each goal, you will need to develop a series of tasks that must be accomplished over time to meet the goal. Make sure that plan specifies each task, the budget/staff implications, the person responsible, and the date by which it needs to be completed.

For more information about long-range planning, order your copy of Great Meetings! Great Results today.

NEXT WEEK IN GREAT MEETINGS: Activities for warming up a group, increasing participation.

About Great Meetings

Pam Plumb and Dee Kelsey are your facilitators in charge of Education World's Great Meetings series. They are also authors of the popular guide to meeting facilitation, Great Meetings! Great Results. Together, Pam and Dee have more than 40 years' experience facilitating change and training meeting leaders.

Learn more by clicking the links below:

* Read biographies
Learn about Pam and Dee.

* Read a "backgrounder"
What will you learn from this series?

* See the Great Meetings archive
See past articles in the series.

* Visit the Great Meetings Web site
Learn about the book, training workshops Pam and Dee offer, and more.

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