A couple of the leaders at an amazing Elevate client recently asked for suggestions on getting started with BRP. This is for a new part of the business that we’re not currently working with, and where internal BRP experts are not yet engaged.

“Could you send details on BRP sessions, including agenda, attendees, and any presentation materials you would recommend?”

My answer to that request turned into this blog post! Of course, I definitely suggest leveraging existing internal examples and having a transformation website or wiki where these are generally available. However, details, agenda, attendees, and materials might all vary widely. I’ll explain why that is, giving some insight and detail into why and how they vary, including some helpful assessment questions and common building blocks.


Defining Big Room Planning (BRP)
Big Room Planning (BRP) is a general term used to describe several types of collaborative, large group working sessions. These sessions often include some sort of mid-range or quarterly planning, and the steering and alignment creation needed for such planning.

BRP has its roots in Rally Software’s use of this language for both PI Planning (SAFe®) and quarterly business steering.

After Rally was acquired by CA Technologies, this language evolved to include an even larger variety of collaborative creation, decision-making, and alignment sessions:

  • SLT working sessions with ~100 of the SLT determining full enterprise focus
  • Agile management sessions for a line of business or department: quarterly leadership offsites (QLOs or QLMs), strategy alignment workshops (SAWs), and quarterly business steering meetings (QSMs) to review and analyze results on KPIs and OKRs, align on key strategies, and create high-level plans for critical change the business work for the next quarter
  • Critical initiative or program deployment (CID or CIP), where critical change the business initiatives (those developed in the SLT or QSM sessions) are steered and planned
  • PI Planning, where programs or solutions come together to have the humans who will be doing the work plan their work in sprints (for the next 10-13 weeks)

Because of the variety of the meetings the term BRP encompasses, the purpose and agenda vary greatly, too.

Purpose
Even within a single type of BRP described above, the purpose can vary greatly depending on maturity of the organization, time horizon under consideration, number of new leaders, size of the organization, whether change initiatives are mature or just getting started, rapid market changes, etc.

To define the purpose of a BRP, start by asking yourself and the key stakeholders these questions:

  • What are the desired outcomes?
  • What are the desired outputs?
  • Why are you using a BRP format?
  • Who are the humans that need to be involved?
  • Who are the key stakeholders?
  • Who do we need to do empathy interviews with this time?
  • What decisions need to be made to create the outcomes we need?
  • What context is needed to make the decisions we want to make?
  • What training is needed for the humans to be able to make the decisions we need to make?
  • How much time will we need to effectively create these outcomes, including needed alignment?

There are other considerations, of course, but these are a few critical questions to always ask. A BRP is an expensive session in terms of executive and senior leader time, energy, attention — and in terms of everyone’s morale. It is worth investing in the design and facilitation.

Agenda
There are some common agenda considerations or building blocks that are critical to each BRP:

  • Creating space and time for the humans to meet and get to know each other, to see each other as people and collaborators vs friction against what they want to accomplish
  • Creating safety for hard conversations and decisions through working agreements, executive welcome, expert facilitation
  • Facilitating business agility principles: Beyond standard facilitation, this expert facilitation is part training, part facilitation, part deliberate practice of business agility principles and practices needed to create successful organizational habits and results
  • Setting context: Bringing in, reviewing, and engaging with all the information needed to steer, decide, align
  • Creating divergence: Every BRP creates time, space, and engagement needed for innovative divergence. The intersection of different views, information, lenses, and products is where innovation happens, where many of the best ideas are created.
  • Facilitating convergence: Every BRP includes the difficult job of creating clear prioritization of work efforts and real alignment needed to take that forward with energy.
  • Retrospecting: Every BRP includes the concept of continuous improvement throughout, including at the end of the session

Background
If you’ve worked with an executive from Broadcom, CA Technologies, or Rally in the past few years, you might have heard the term BRP. Rally was acquired by CA Technologies, which was later acquired by Broadcom.

The founders of Elevate worked together in all three of these organizations, where they helped develop and refine many of these methods, along with others critical to successful transformation. Two of the founders led the whole-company business agility transformation at CA Technologies. All of the founders have studied what makes companies successful in leveraging business agility principles to effectively deploy these concepts.

Throughout this experience, from companies in the Fortune 10 to local startups, we’ve found a key to all BRP sessions is leveraging expert facilitation and deliberate practice of Business Agility principles, what we at Elevate often refer to as “Practice Makes Culture”.

Historical Resources
Rally Software BRP overview video
CA Technologies uses BRP/CIP to create business agility in Legal, Audit, and Customer Success
CA Technologies uses BRP to deliver LOB (line of business) results


Get Started
Get started with Elevate expert facilitation of your BRP, or with Practice Makes Culture facilitation and training. Beyond standard facilitation, this expert facilitation is part training, part facilitation, part deliberate practice of business agility principles and practices needed to create successful organizational habits and deliver results with confidence.