What are some effective visioning exercises to use with my clients in strategy development processes?
As with all such techniques, think through whether or not this process works well with your client's culture and fits with the rest of your strategy development. Clarity in strategy always starts and ends with simplicity - start with a clear, focused concept and expand it as needed but, ultimately, it has to be easily communicated to stakeholders.
Here's an idea that seems too forced or trite to work but is incredibly powerful. If not constrained, a client team can consume a day of enthusiastic debate on this one exercise.
Have each member of your working group imagine a headline about the company at some point in the future, say in 5-10 years. Ask them to select a newspaper, journal, or industry magazine - whatever they individually think would provide the best visibility and credibility for the company. This means not just the local newspaper but the most influential journal or opinion source in their industry. Have them write down a headline and a sentence or two of the story lead. You may be surprised how different each person's aspirational view of the future is. Tip:
Create a mock up of the newspaper or journal. Start with the consensus headline and build out the story, in journalistic style, starting with the key features, followed by subordinate facts. Add a picture if appropriate. If you have time and interest, sketch out the adjacent stories that might appear on the page to reflect conditions and trends in associated industries, contemporary political or economic events of importance, and maybe even a view of what might come next for your company. There is no best format - let it organically grow from the enthusiasm and needs of the group.© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA