International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

Workshop for defining goals

Length of Workshop:

Approximately 2 to 3 hours of the first SAP strategic thinking meeting


Initially in plenary but followed by small breakout groups. After the plenary session, SAP Development Team members divide into groups of between 3 and 8 (possibly based around priority transboundary problems). Mixed discipline groups work well – ensure that the group members working on this process cover all the areas of expertise needed. In addition to natural scientists, social, legal, political and economic experts will be required. Preferably, the Project Manager will define the groups prior to the workshop. At the end of the group work, each working group should report back in plenary.


Introduction of provisional goals that achieve the vision and reduce the impact of each transboundary problem and agreement on finalised set of draft goals

The Task:

Before the workshop, the Project Manager and key SAP Development Team members should draft a list of provisional Goals together with approximate timeframes, including information on which priority transboundary problem(s) they are linked.

In Plenary:

  1. Initial Briefing by the chair or facilitator on the purpose of this workshop.
  2. Presentation of the provisional Goals followed by a short open discussion (10 - 15 minutes). All comments should be minuted.
  3. Disperse into breakout groups.

In Breakout groups:

  1. Decide on a facilitator/chair and a rapporteur and ensure all members know each other.
  2. Review the goals associated with each specific transboundary problem and ensuring they: 
    1. Achieve the vision; and
    2. Reduce the impact of the given transboundary problem or problems
  3. The facilitator should encourage an open discussion of the goals and should discourage participants from focusing on “how” issues. In addition, the facilitator should also stay clear of any discussion about funding and feasibility since these matters stifle creativity. The “how” questions will be addressed further into the strategic thinking process.
  4. Make sure all review comments and suggested alterations are noted by the rapporteur – there will need to be feed back to the plenary group.

Report back:

In plenary, ask for a 5 to 10 minute report from each group. Limit the time for each group and keep a close eye on timekeeping. Allow time for a critical discussion within the group and ensure all comments are captured by a rapporteur.

It might be useful for a second round of group work to incorporate any ideas from the whole group. This would need to be agreed by the project manager, prior to the workshop. If a second round is decided, move team members between working groups.


  • Draft list of goals together with approximate timeframes, including information on which priority transboundary problem(s) they are linked.
  • Annotated list of discussion comments from TDA Development Team