Earlier this year I had the opportunity to travel to Lithuania to work with the ISM University of Management and Economics on thinking through strategy and how they compete in the global market for management education. I could do an entire post about the beauty of Vilnius, how gracious everyone there was, or how cool it was that they’re housed in an old monastery and built their newest building on top of the old city walls – but I won’t. Rather, I’ll tell you about what impressed me most – the way they creatively approached developing strategy.
The school itself focuses on developing innovative managers and they modeled what they expect their students to become throughout the two-day meeting. The session was structured so that on the first day, participants all viewed, reviewed and discussed a common set of information and the second day they discussed options, debated alternatives, and created a rough outline for how they would move forward. They followed a lot of best practices throughout the session:
So far this sounds like many strategy sessions I’ve been a part of, but what the teams came back with was anything but. What emerged was some very creative thinking – one team, for example, summarized their discussion using an equation with variables and consonants to describe their research agenda and desired results. Another utilized a theatre analogy to describe how to create the motivated team they needed to get closer to their desired future state. This one, in particular, was impressive – and you could tell by the knowing smiles that came from easily understanding the analogy and how it would be applied in their situation.
For a school focused on innovation, they certainly demonstrated it in the way they approached this strategy session – using a facilitated process and making the outcome their own. Of course the hard work began after the two-day session, and it’s well underway. That’s not the point. The point is they used a solid process and set of practices to discuss options, debate alternatives, and consider the best path forward.