Admit it: When you receive your invitation to your company’s annual strategic planning meeting, do you have to suppress a groan? These meetings always have the same agenda, cover the same topics, and resurrect the same struggles as the previous year. Wouldn’t they be so much more productive, and wouldn’t the team get more excited, if there was time for deeper discussion, real actions, and achievable follow-on tasks?
I’m not going to sugarcoat it: Strategic planning is hard work. It takes preparation, teamwork, and a commitment to follow up and close out the inevitable action items that will be raised because no good strategy is created in a single sitting.
Planning for your growth requires a deeper look at the market, a better understanding of what keeps your customers up at night, and a refreshed assessment of how you can solve their problems. Dynamic market conditions demand honest conversations and a nimble plan to meet business objectives. Here are some tips to make your strategic planning process successful:
1) Include the right people
The best meetings include diverse and dedicated team members. It’s best to have a small core team of leaders and managers who represent each area of the company.
2) Commit to having big picture, “blue sky” discussions
While fighting fires daily is important to your business, so is thinking big. Create an agenda that includes several hours dedicated to big thinking, and ensure you use it. Some of your best ideas will come from these sessions.
3) Use your team wisely
Everyone needs to be heard. Don’t let titles or positions hinder the idea sharing. And to make it flow better, hire an outside organization or facilitator. This keeps everyone on track and ensures all ideas are shared.
4) Formalize action items and next steps
Make sure the actions and next steps are captured and stated. Everyone needs to know what’s next, who’s responsible for what, and by when. This is one of the most important activities of the meeting.
5) … and repeat!
Strategies, like the market you’re in, are dynamic. It’s crucial to meet at least quarterly to measure results, evolve the plan, and update actions. The teams are accountable to show results. Your company won’t grow at the pace you want without constant review and modifications.
The time is now to schedule your strategy session: Put together your plan, book the venue, and bring the team together! If you need help, just reach out to us. We would love to help kick-start your strategic planning and accelerate your growth.