10 Ways to Improve Strategic Planning Sessions
Learn from our clients’ mistakes and successes – use these tactics to improve your strategic planning sessions.
1. Invite the right people.
Avoid falling into the political trap. Focus on the participants who can give actual strategic direction and advice. If you are considering a strategy for distribution then bring in participants from the distribution team to ensure you make the right choices and ease implementation. If you have leaders who like to dominate the conversation or are afraid of a specific decision – then prepare your facilitator to neutralize their impact.
2. Get active.
Avoid sitting around a huge boardroom table with PowerPoint presentations. The best strategic plans are designed by active participants collaborating and layering upon each idea. Keep participants moving through a variety of exercises to examine the new possibilities in the current and future states.
3. Use an
outside facilitator. Asking an internal leader to facilitate and contribute is unfair. Sometimes the only thing more expensive than a professional — is an amateur. Avoid having to call for an intervention with the executive team after a poorly-designed and facilitated strategy planning sessions. You will achieve the results faster, go deeper, and leave aligned with a clear implementation plan with an outside facilitator.
4. Hold your strategy session away from your office.
Consider natural locations with inspiring views – remember to keep the Powerpoint off and the windows open. When you have a breakthrough session with a facilitator, rebook the facilitator and the location for 6 months or next year. Leverage the success you’ve just experienced again and again. We have several clients that have used the same facilitator for over a decade – imagine how well they know their industry, organization and team.
5. Have mobile free conversations.
You’ve invested to get away from the distractions of the office, take the next step and choose which of these conversations are mobile device free. Give adequate breaks to allow for issues to be cleared and if someone needs to keep their device on, have them let the facilitator know. Keep the group present and focused on the strategic plan rather than the distractions of the office.
6. Don’t stop at strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
This traditional approach only identifies context. Make sure your facilitator engages the group to create strategies that leverage the strengths, minimize the weaknesses, seize the opportunities and mitigate the threats. Otherwise, the exercise can be replaced.
7. Build ownership.
Even if an entire team is involved in an activity, assign one owner. Ultimately the responsibility needs to rest on one individual who ensures the team takes action. Having multiple owners for actions leads to confusion and less accountability. Even if two leaders will work together to achieve the outcome – make sure one name owns the outcome.
8. Organize your actions by month on one chart.
We call the process “Displayed Planning” so you can see which months have too many activities. Add other important dates like year end, conferences and major events to reduce the numbers of bumps you experience implementing the plan.
9. Everyone communicates updates together.
Now you have your strategic plan so choose the same day each month for everyone to get on a conference call and update each other with their progress. Implementing the plan is where the value of your strategic plan lives.
10. Mid-year review.
Save time each year by aligning your mid-year review with the budgeting process. Aligning both processes together ensures the plan and the budget align.
NATURAL COMMUNICATION STYLE.
Each person has a natural communication style.
Understanding yours can and will impact how effective you are when dealing with friends, co-workers and clients.