Recently a friend asked me what sets TPG Companies apart in how we lead and facilitate strategy and planning processes – because we get so much positive feedback.
My friend is involved with many companies and thus sits in on a lot of planning meetings. She said, “Some people do a decent job, but more often than not I’m displeased and frustrated with the person facilitating and leading. They don’t engage the management team or board well, it’s a full 2 days, and I’m just wrung out and exhausted by the end of it.”
She wondered: what does TPG do differently?
I don’t claim to know everything about how others do it, but I do know what people tend to say to TPG when we lead or facilitate planning processes (i.e., strategic planning, business planning, project planning, implementation/execution planning).
We get an abundance of feedback, but these four comments come up time and again:
- “You really do your homework to get to know who we are!”
That we do. We’ve found we can help entities so much more when we know them (and the people participating in planning) beyond a surface level – as individuals, as companies/organizations. From the start, we dig deep to learn who they are, where they’re coming from, and what their objectives for planning are. We’ve learned to ask lots of questions before and during planning, and to “coach it out of them” as needed. Always seeking to understand and achieve what would be of real value.Knowing the organization and the individuals well helps us design a process that works for them. Not every tool, technique, or method is right for every client or situation. Even once we’ve laid out a road map, we stay flexible and aware during the process to revise on the fly, if that is what’s needed.
I suppose we could do what some may call “veneer consulting,” a mile wide and an inch deep. However, we’ve found doing our homework ensures we can go with our clients wherever they need to go – like our what matters most motto says.
- “You clearly live this stuff every day.”
It’s not just that we “live this stuff” as strategists, facilitators and advisors for others – we literally live our strategy and planning methods and tools in our own TPG Companies and with other companies that are venture partners or who we work with. We have plenty of opportunities to see the back end of what happens when you strategize, plan, and implement effectively (or when you don’t…).We learn from all those opportunities – in fact we’re voracious learners – and continuously apply new learning as we work with others. It seems to make a difference.
- “You tune in to where we’re at and who we are, individually and collectively.”
To lead a strong and positive planning process, we believe you have to operate and think on many levels at once: individual, group, organization, content, process and even beyond the organization. When you prepare, navigate, and facilitate on all those levels, it’s possible to create strategy and plans that can live and breathe, and bring results.We sometimes hear about consultants and facilitators who come in, go through their pre-defined steps, maybe do a SWOT exercise, and strictly follow their prescribed program – the same way, every time. That can work for some. What we hear, though, is, “It didn’t engage us because they were focused on their process and their stuff rather than us.”
Literally, we ask ourselves, What would be engaging for these people? What’s the experience they’re having? What will help them think clearer? Communicate more effectively? Make better decisions? What’s working? What has room for improvement, and how can we help with that?
The answers to these questions impact everything – from the amount of natural light in the room, to who sits by whom, to which topics are emphasized (and in which order), and how we navigate the “dance” of the topics and agenda.
- “Your diverse experience pays dividends to us.”
People notice our depth and breadth of experience and expertise, because we put it to good use when we’re doing planning and other work with clients and partners. We’ve worked in – or have team members who have worked in – so many different professions, industries, and sectors, that we have a lot to draw on. We tailor the approach to each new entity we work with, according to what fits best. We’re seldom starting from scratch, yet each solution is unique to each entity.
…. A technique we found useful with a financial services company might also be a great fit for multicultural advocacy group.
…. A manufacturers’ association could be at just the right place to make good use of a tool or method originally developed for a health care company.
…. A model that made perfect sense with an education-focused nonprofit may – or may not – also make perfect sense with a multinational agribusiness entity.
Every company and organization is distinct in its own right. Still, similar patterns, challenges, and opportunities arise daily even in vastly different organizations. Recognizing the patterns, without losing sight of the distinctions, is core to the value TPG brings to our clients and partners.
Are you getting that level of value in your planning?
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