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Challenging BAU for a new way of thinking

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Each year our planning process has followed a tried and tested method. Traditionally, our product leads submit their product development and sales priorities for the New Year, following a bottom up planning approach. This year, we decided to challenge this approach. 


We wanted to spend more time upfront building a strategic plan and collaborating in real time with our management teams to achieve consensus and their support. The result has been a more cohesive and aligned business plan for each of our product and solution areas. 


This change in approach and thinking came about due to embracing our innovation development workspace called ThinkSpace. Located on Optus campus in Sydney, this unique facility is available to Optus Business customers and provides a guided process to achieve a people-centred approach to business planning and problem solving. Many of our customers have had success breaking down business problems and through the process come away with an actionable plan with validated ideas and clear next steps. 


As I was new to the ThinkSpace process, I needed to change my way of thinking. Aaron, one of the ThinkSpace facilitators, worked with me well ahead of the scheduled session to understand the workshop objectives, ideal outcomes, who would be attending and their background. 


I found that the session got to the desired outcome by covering four key components: 


Alignment – we used clever collaboration tools that encouraged group participation and allowed immediate input from experts outside of the room.


Inspiration – the workspace helped to provide fresh new perspectives that made it easier to reframe our business challenges and opportunities – we identified some new creative approaches to familiar problems.


Ideation – we followed Aaron’s agenda to guide my team through concept, creation, validation, feasibility and prototyping solutions.


Planning – I came away from the session with actionable next steps, a gap analysis program and the FY17 strategic plan that had already received team consensus and a share vision.


At the end of the session I realised that sometimes you need to step away from business as usual, to paint the vision and draw the map that will lead your team towards its goals.