Deadlock dilemma: Accelerating the performance of a senior leadership team


Our client’s senior team was divided regarding how to conduct the upcoming strategic planning process.  Half the group favored a bottom-up process that would begin by gathering employee input. The other half wanted the process to occur completely within the senior team.  Members of the senior team had made several attempts to resolve their disagreement, without success. Their inability to agree on a path forward was delaying the strategic planning process and straining relationships on the team.


There were two objectives for the engagement:

  • Create a strategic planning process that was acceptable to all members of the senior team
  • Provide team members with a process for resolving conflict that strengthened relationships rather than damaging them


We created a highly interactive, one-day off-site for the team.  The morning was spent creating basic communication and negotiation skills:  listening, understanding other points of view, exploring the interests underlying opposing positions, and creating win-win solutions. In the afternoon we facilitated a conversation in which team members used their newly acquired skills to resolve the strategic planning process dilemma.


The most important skill team members learned during the off-site was how to balance inquiry with advocacy – in particular, how to inquire more (and more effectively) than had been their custom. The result was striking: for the first time since the disagreement began, the two “sides” understood the interests that lay beneath one another’s positions. Once these interests were revealed, they were able to stop fighting over the two opposing processes currently on the table and create a third option that addressed everyone’s interests. Most importantly, they learned a way of managing disagreement that would enable them to resolve their differences more effectively in the future.

In our clients' words

Absolutely superb!…

It was…the best session of its type I’ve attended…

You put everyone immediately at ease and had an obvious logic and structure [to your approach]…I would recommend you to others looking for such guidance

Executive Team Offsite
Leading Media Company