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Assuredly, organizational executives are known to go off-site to conduct strategic planning sessions, building consensus around vision and strategy to lead an organization to the future it seeks.

Yet infrequently, if ever, the Account Payable Department (or, some other function, process, activity or product) justifies off-site strategic planning sessions. They still need consensus around why that department (or, some other function, process, activity or product) exists, where they are going, and how they are going to measure their progress. To build consensual understanding around WHY something exists or WHY it is important, consider using our Purpose Tool. If used appropriately, Commander’s Intent (aka, the Purpose Tool) may be the second most frequently used workshop tool, after Brainstorming.

Purpose Tool Purpose

The Purpose Tool: Building the Strategic Plan for a Function, Process, Activity or Product

The Purpose Tool
(or, Commander’s Intent)

This activity yields a wonderful, group constructed statement that captures the reason, plan, scope, and benefits of a business area.

Purpose Tool Rationale

Provides the group a consensually built backdrop that can be appealed to. Helps galvanize consensus around analytical methods and decision-making that follow.

Purpose Tool Method

Either on one easel or two separate easels, in advance you should build out the visual prompt (preferably in a separate color), that “The Purpose of ____ is to . . . (ellipsis) So that . . . (ellipsis).”

  • Prompt your participants with “The Purpose of ____ is to . . .
  • While scribing, print the last word from the previous input, prompt them audibly with “So that . . .” because you want to keep the energy high.
  • Do not use hyphens as you capture, rather use commas as you are helping them build one, long run-on sentence.
  • Do not wordsmith the results but be certain to reread, review, and confirm that they have created a statement that everyone can live with.  Basically, you have created a strategic plan at the level of a business area or activity—why it is important.
  • Review during the workshop as an appeal to ensure that the discussion stays on topic. If necessary, either take off topic discussion and ask that it be placed in the Issue Bin or go back and modify this statement to allow for its inclusion.


Don’t ruin your career or reputation with bad meetings. Register for a class or forward this to someone who should. Taught by world-class instructors, MG RUSH  professional facilitation curriculum focuses on practice. Each student thoroughly practices and rehearses tools, methods, and approaches throughout the week. While some call this immersion, we call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.

Our courses also provide an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, and 40 CDUs from IIBA, as well as 3.2 CEUs for other professions. (See individual class descriptions for details.)

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Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz, CSM, PSPO, CSPF, is the Managing Director of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Facilitation Best Practices blog features over 300 articles on facilitation skills and tools aimed at helping others lead faster, more productive meetings and workshops that yield higher quality decisions. His clients include Agilists, Scrum teams, program and project managers, senior officers, and the business analyst community among numerous private and public companies and global corporations. As an undergraduate of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and MBA graduate from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on process improvement and product development. He continually aspires to make it easier for others to succeed.

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