The Power of Including All Voices in the Planning Process

by Julie Boll  - October 8, 2019

I’ve always been passionate about making sure all voices are heard in any planning process. This is one reason I love Compression Planning® which has a powerful definition: a visual brainstorming process designed to bring out a group’s best thinking and energy on a specific issue in an environment of fair play and equal participation led by a skilled facilitator.  This process is designed to ensure all voices are heard and considered so the best solution can be identified. 

Organizational Development experts Bolman and Deal explain how change impacts organizations and why we need to hear all voices throughout any change process:

“Changing an organization is a complex, systemic undertaking. It rarely works to retrain people without revising roles or to revamp roles without retraining. Planning without broad-based participation that gives voice to the opposition almost guarantees stiff resistance later on. Change alters power relationships and undermines existing agreements and pacts. Even more profoundly it intrudes on deeply rooted symbolic forms, traditional ways, icons, and rituals. Below the surface, an organization’s cultural tapestry begins to unravel, threatening time-honored traditions, prevailing cultural values, and ways, and shared meaning.” (Reframing Organizations pg. 377)

The stiff resistance Bolman and Deal describe can unravel even the best-laid plans and is why we can’t afford not to include all voices in the planning process. Dr. Brene Brown advises daring leaders to use power-with, power-to, and power-within to combat hierarchical organizations where only those on top hold the power which she describes as power over leadership. This advice underscores the need to ensure all voices are heard.  She outlines the antidote for a power over leadership style:

Power-with – finding common ground in different interests and building collective strength, multiplying individual talents

Power-to – giving everyone on your team agency and acknowledging their unique potential to make a difference

Power-within – recognize differences and respect others by being grounded in a strong foundation of self-worth and self-knowledge

How do you ensure all voices are heard in your planning process?

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