The Role of Strategy Facilitators at trivago
Strategy planning, when done well, is a crucial element of improving business performance and aligning the company on shared long- and short-term goals. At trivago, our strategy planning approach follows our own trivago Strategy Framework, which we believe best fits our company structure and culture. The main purpose is to create alignment, give direction, enable innovation and to give us focus at any given moment. All of this to help us with decision making, both in the short and long-term perspective.
An essential part of our Strategy Framework is strategy workshops in which departments, teams and individuals brainstorm, discuss and align on our strategic goals and kick off specific initiatives on how to reach them, thereby fostering collaboration across teams and execution of our strategic plans.
However, these workshops often include rather large groups of participants coming from various teams with their own unique perspectives. This requires excellent moderation skills and the ability to ask the right questions to foster open discussion while keeping the group focused, to mitigate conflicts and to provide advice on how best to phrase and measure the chosen goals and initiatives, all the while staying neutral to the topic. This is why we, at trivago, have developed a group of strategy facilitators who facilitate such workshops and thereby help departments and teams to stay focused on our strategy.
Who are strategy facilitators?
Strategy facilitators are a group of talents from across trivago who come together to improve our strategy planning process and facilitate strategy workshops. Every member of the group has a different role in trivago, unrelated to strategy planning, and they take time off their busy schedule to help out other teams.
What do they do?
During the strategy planning cycle, strategy facilitators provide neutral facilitation for trivago strategy workshops, guiding participants through various stages of the workshop, such as brainstorming, discussion, alignment, etc. They always align with the goal owner before the workshop and provide basic documentation of the workshop afterwards. They act as ambassadors of the trivago Strategy Framework, making sure we all follow the same process efficiently which then helps with cross-team communication and collaboration.
Who can join this group?
Almost anyone! trivago strategy facilitators all have different roles in trivago and they volunteer to do this job on top of their normal responsibilities. The only requirements are being interested in the topic of strategy planning, willingness to dedicate time to learn and contribute, and not being afraid of public speaking.
I have no experience in facilitating a workshop, are there any learning opportunities?
One of our company core values is ‘Fanatic Learning’. There are many learning opportunities that talents can take advantage of. There is a ‘Strategy in a Nutshell’ training where you can get a basic understanding of why strategy matters, strategy planning theories, and the trivago Strategy Framework. ‘Effective Facilitation’ workshop focuses on increasing skills in facilitation/moderation of workshops, learning how to create an effective and efficient meeting, and sharing experiences, know-how and practical application through cases.
However, one of the best methods is to shadow other strategy facilitators before facilitating on your own. You will not only gain experience helping development of your own facilitation skills, but you will also learn various facilitation techniques and get a first taste of what is expected of you.
Q&A with our Strategy Facilitators:
How has your experience as a strategy facilitator been so far?
Stephan Strack: It has been amazing to have seen how different teams setup their strategy. I’ve had the chance to do strategy with very different Teams, like Design, Talents & Culture and Marketing just to name a few. As we improve the strategy framework and workshops yearly it has been fascinating to see how the framework has developed from a yearly planning to a very agile, rolling strategy framework with quarterly reviews, tailored towards the needs of our teams, with the focus on empowering collaboration across teams.
Elena Zhigalina: I’m surprised how much I can learn from different teams during the time I facilitate strategy workshops. I work mostly with marketing teams and during a year of being a facilitator I can also see how the process developed and strategy workshops definitely improved.
Arisona Hampl: I’ve just recently joined the team so I’ve only shadowed other facilitators so far. but I’ve already learned a lot. Observing the difference in facilitation styles and how this impacts the group dynamics and outcome of the workshop is extremely interesting. Also, seeing the way different teams organize themselves and listening to the discussions they have is great to get a different perspective and escape the day-to-day routines of your own role. Can’t wait to get some action!
Why would you like to recommend this role?
Stephan Strack: Since my role as Project Manager requires a lot of moderation and facilitation, the Strategy Workshops add an extra challenge and help me to stay sharp on the moderation skills needed. Since I usually have lesser knowledge about the contents of the workshop than the participants, these workshops give me a good opportunity to focus on my own skills and improve them.
Why did you choose to be a facilitator?
Stephan Strack: I’ve chosen to become a Strategy Facilitator because I wanted to know how teams set their strategic goals. In addition I wanted to help improve the workshops and the strategy framework.
Elena Zhigalina: I really like to organize processes and ensure meeting efficiency, so this role is a great fit and at the same I also learn a lot during the facilitation. Last but not least, we have a very cool team of strategy facilitators. We constantly exchange and support each other, which is also very important for me.
Arisona Hampl: I wanted to get more in touch with our company objectives and strategy, especially from different viewpoints. I feel this helps me have a more heterogenic understanding of initiatives within trivago, which also helps me to keep different perspectives in mind during my own work. I also really enjoyed the Effective Facilitation workshop and aimed to build up on what I had learned.
For our existing talents: Are you curious about becoming a strategy facilitator? Feel free to contact Lucia Vlkovičová with your questions – we’d love to have you on board!
Thanks to Selim Lee for compiling this article on strategy facilitation at trivago!