In A Breakthrough in Strategic Planning, Ron Tabachnick shows us what we need to know about planning a project simply in a complex world. Ron exposes planning’s underlying unconscious processes and then instructs us in his highly effective strategic planning process, which he calls The Plan. In his engaging style he shares a wealth of knowledge and experience gathered over twenty-five years as a professional on the front lines of the business world. As we are taken through planning meetings with some of his clients, ranging from an afternoon session for a woman seeking a new career, to a two-day corporate retreat for a multinational restaurant chain, we learn how The Plan works and see his personal techniques applied. As we read we are entertained and stimulated and experience the best approach to planning.

Like most busy professionals we hold meetings and do strategic planning only when absolutely necessary, otherwise we put it off. We are not professional facilitators but we do our best. We can learn a great deal from someone who has made facilitation his life’s work. Ron’s experience in both the human and bottom line aspects of business has allowed him to develop a highly effective three-stage method of planning.

The book proceeds by addressing the three stages of Identifying Challenges, Setting Goals and crafting an Action Plan. A simple case study illustrates the form and effectiveness of The Plan. Then an account of a more complex planning meeting demonstrates how large, executable ideas can be formed when a well-functioning team is given the right tools. After being encouraged to dream freely, participants experience various planning techniques that help them manifest their goals. Aligning the challenges and goals, the action plan follows. Accountability is simple, effective and fast-paced when the meeting is on track and the documentation process is automatic.

In the last chapter A Breakthrough in Strategic Planning takes us through Ron’s Toolbox. We get to know him as a facilitator and understand the benefits of using this type of outside professional. Ron also lets us in on some of his tools for understanding people and their approaches to planning. We also meet The Technographer, the person who records the key components of the discussions in the meeting for all to see as it progresses. We learn why this collaborative writing method is key to the heightened efficiency of creating The Plan.

How do we keep a meeting alive and end up with a written account? How do we turn our dreams into action? What about identifying and removing roadblocks? What is the best way to deal with difficult participants and draw out the shy people? Is there a way to cut through the well-established organizational politics to build a team for a new project? And what about accountability and follow-through for what participants agree to take on? A born teacher and mentor, Ron makes his various topics jump off the page with personal wisdom and charm. Remarkably, A Breakthrough in Strategic Planning gives us the tools and techniques for doing it all in as little as half a day.

Regardless of the size of the organization or the complexity of the planning issues at hand, A Breakthrough in Strategic Planning offers a platform and a clear course of action – a refreshing approach to meeting facilitation and strategic planning.