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Power of participation: Why you should involve your team in strategy formation

"Coming together is a beginning. Staying together is progress. Working together is success." Henry Ford

For your business to succeed in 2023, you need a robust strategy with buy-in from your entire team.

Crafting the correct strategy is challenging enough, but how can you be confident your plan will actually be implemented by your team in the age of hybrid working?

Luckily, there's significant evidence to show involving your team in strategy formation can massively improve delivery in implementation. And that's the case from boards to leadership teams, and even entire organisations.

Here's why strategy facilitation works:

1. Increase your team's sense of ownership over the strategy to boost commitment to action

The key to a successful strategy is making it 'the baby' of your team. When your team is involved in the strategy formation process, they're more likely to feel a sense of ownership over the plan. They'll be committed to seeing it through to completion, and more likely to take responsibility for making it happen.

2. Improve communication and collaboration within your team to allow aligned, focused action

Effective communication and collaboration are vital for success in your organisation. Involving your people in strategy formation improves communication and collaboration across different teams and departments. By breaking down functional silos the process is there to make sure everyone is aligned with each other and your organisation's strategy and goals. Naturally the resulting improvement in collaboration leads to more efficient and effective implementation of the strategy where the rubber meets the road.

3. Ensure your people understand your strategy, so they can make good decisions, faster

As you know, knowledge is power in most businesses. When your people are involved in strategy formation, they're more likely to have a true understanding of the strategy and the reasons behind it. That deeper understanding can help identify potential issues or roadblocks before they even happen. And even better, you can empower your team to make faster decisions without the typical delays caused by red tape. All they have to do is ask themselves "Will this help us meet the plan? Is this on strategy?"

4. Harvest innovative ideas from your team to maintain competitive advantage

The competitive advantage for Aussie businesses is all about rising to creative and adaptive challenges. That is, unless you want to compete with the Phillipines (or AI for that matter) for a race to the bottom on price and lower-value technical tasks! Creativity and innovation thrive when you involve a diverse range of voices in strategy formation. During strategy facilitation teams find new solutions and ways to unlock new ideas - and the approach overall fosters a culture of innovation. This helps your team stay sharp, avoid lazy routines and maintains your firm's competitive edge.

5. Improve your team's morale and motivation to lift employee satisfaction and reduce turnover costs

Employee motivation and morale are critical factors in driving productivity and achieving organisational goals. And involving your team in strategy formation can be a powerful way to boost both. When employees feel like they have a voice in the direction of the business, it can give them a sense of purpose and direction and help them feel more connected to their work. This will lead to higher levels of engagement and productivity across your whole team.

Evidence of success - why we're not just making this up.

Involving employees in strategic planning is a win-win for both the organisation and its employees.

According to a study in the Journal of Applied Psychology, employees who had a seat at the strategy table reported higher levels of job satisfaction, organisational commitment, and accountability for the success of the strategy (Cotton, Vollrath, Froggatt, Lengnick-Hall, & Jennings, 1988).

And another study found involving employees in planning increased their sense of possession over innovative new behaviours desired by leaders, boosting their motivation to see it through to completion. They also found employee involvement had a constructive influence on communication and coordination throughout the company (Klein & Sorra, 1996, AMJ).

These results show why engaging your team in strategy formulation process is as a way of promoting ownership, motivation, and cooperation across your business.

It's not a surprise to us, though - we have been using and improving this method for 18 years and seen the results for ourselves. Although most engagements go smoothly, the interesting thing looking back is that the tougher moments often end up creating value as well.

In other words, the strategy facilitation process works - one way or another - every time.


Matt is founder and principal of Turning Leaf, a strategy facilitation firm. Matt has 25 years' experience in marketing strategy and facilitation including client-side leadership roles at blue-chip firms Unilever and Diageo, and the last 18 years as an independent consultant. Matt has worked with large multinationals such as LVMH, Veolia and Kia, local giants such as Lendlease, and the Federal Government. And his favourite work is helping local firms and family businesses in all sectors (the engine room of the Australian economy).


Cotton, J. L., Vollrath, D. A., Froggatt, K. L., Lengnick-Hall, M. L., & Jennings, K. R. (1988). Employee Participation: Diverse Forms and Different Outcomes. The Academy of Management Review, 13(1), 8–22.

Klein, K.J., & Sorra, J. (1996). The Challenge of Innovation Implementation. Academy of Management Review, 21, 1055-1080.


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