Reasons to run a “Big Picture Thinking” workshop with your team

What did you set out to achieve last year and how did it go? What did you learn about your work? How can you use that knowledge to plan for the year ahead? What trends and opportunities did you pick up on that might shape the work that you do?

These are all useful questions to ask yourself at this time of year, to set intentions for the months ahead. Allocating time to step away from your tactical day-to-day work and think about the long-term is a great way to regain some focus.

This is a useful exercise to do individually, but there’s also huge value in doing this with your team. I call this a “Big Picture Thinking” workshop?—?a collaborative session involving a series of activities and discussions to help you to look at the overall direction you’re heading in (there’s a link to a template at the end of this post). It’s an opportunity for busy teams to step away from their to-do lists and stretch their strategic thinking muscles.

You’ll ask your team questions like: what were our biggest successes and challenges from the past year? What were our biggest lessons? What inspires us? What might be a barrier or opportunity for us? What are potential ideas for work we could do, and what will we do next?

While it might feel daunting and messy to bring all of those ideas out into the open, the pros far outweigh the cons. In addition to the tangible content you’ll create that will help to build your strategy, you will:

Provide a focused space for reflection

A Big Picture Thinking session enables your team to zoom out and take a broad look at what they’ve learned from their work. It can often be difficult for your colleagues to incorporate this type of thinking into their day, with more immediate deadlines taking priority. This workshop provides the space to stop and look back at the last quarter or year, before rushing straight into the next project or task.

Learn from each other

During the workshop you can ask your team to share their inspirations and influences, and trends they’ve picked up on that could impact their work. The workshop is a forum for them to communicate these insights and their knowledge, as they may not have had an opportunity to before. It’s a great way to learn from, and about, each other, creating a focused and purposeful team-building activity.

Spark creative thinking

Your team will have time to generate, challenge and combine ideas for future work that you could do. It won’t be possible to take every suggestion forward (you will need to set these expectations with your team), but the activities in the workshop will spark new thinking. With good follow-up, it will form the start of more discussions where ideas can incubate and be developed further afterwards.

Create alignment

By encouraging your team to take a step back, they can review how their work fits into the bigger picture, enabling them to reconnect to the organisation’s overall purpose. They’ll find new connections between their work, achieve more clarity and see how the various aspects of their work can make an impact.

Motivate your team

From their experience, your team can provide suggestions for key areas to focus on in the coming months. They will more motivated to engage in a strategy that they had a part in shaping. Above that, it makes sense that as they are closest to the work, they are best placed to make decisions about it, and set relevant objectives.

These are all great reasons to run a Big Picture Thinking workshop with your team?—?reflecting on their knowledge, learning from each other, creating alignment and boosting motivation.

By reviewing the past, exploring external influences and trends, and building ideas for the future, you can bring your team back onto the same page and provide focus for what you’ll do in the year ahead.

Get the template

This template helps you to facilitate a “Big Picture Thinking” workshop with your team. It breaks down the activities step-by-step and provides a checklist for before and after the session.

The outline includes:

  1. Review: what did you set out to achieve this past year and how did it go?
  2. Insights: what have you learned about your work/business/customers this year?
  3. Trends: what is happening in industry, outside of your business?
  4. Wish list: what would you do if time, money and resources were unlimited?
  5. Ideas generation: what if you were to…?
  6. Actions and next steps: what are the biggest insights from the session?

Get the template

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