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A strategic planning session with 500 people

Old Montreal

The client

A large academic institution wanted to gain input for its 5-year strategic plan from all key internal stakeholders, in one session.



  • Large number of participants:  500 people

  • Diversity of the group:  5 constituencies (students, faculty, support staff, professionals and management)

  • Varying degrees of familiarity and experience with strategic planning

  • Facilitation expertise was not available internally; there was only one external facilitator

  • Short time frame:  ½ day



  • Well-planned logistics was crucial (venue size and location, seating arrangements, audio-visual support, asking/answering questions, etc.)

  • The magic happens when the large group is divided into smaller groups.  Participants worked in groups on various types of exercises.  Flip-charts, markers and other tools were provided.  Groups were encouraged to be creative in how they approached the exercises.

  • Report-outs were additive, and done in a creative way, to minimize monotony.



  • Raw output – more than 200 flip chart pages of ideas and innovations

  • Participants exhibited a high level of engagement and enthusiasm. They were pleasantly surprised at the amount and quality of the work accomplished in the short time frame.

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