The words “strategic planning” invoke an emotional reaction in many leaders. For entrepreneurs, the prospect of spending a day or two in a room, free of structure and creativity is exciting and exhilarating. But for managers and executive leaders, the words can be a bit frightening. How am I going to get all my “regular” work done and take time for these meetings? Will we really execute the ideas we generate? Who will plan the meeting? You can create excitement, reduce stress and most importantly, engage your broader team in growing your business with an effective strategic planning process.
Here are 5 easy tips to improve the process:
1. Plan ahead. Most stress comes from juggling calendars and “fitting in” the meetings. If you have a regular strategic planning meeting cycle (we recommend quarterly meetings), plan the meeting dates a full year in advance so that the attendees know when these are and can plan accordingly. This includes the venue, which is our second tip…
2. Meet offsite in a creative setting. Don’t meet in your conference room or office. These meetings need to be in a creative place, offsite so that your managers and leaders aren’t “sucked in” to the day to day. You want your team to be at its creative peak during these meetings and we believe strongly in the power of a creative space to generate great ideas. We believe in this so much at align5 that we have three amazing creative outlets that we offer for strategic planning: align.Space in downtown West Chester, PA, The Retreat in Marathon, FL, and the Nashville Music Loft.
3. Set an agenda and expectations ahead of the meeting. The agenda can be somewhat loose if you are looking for more brainstorming but you should distribute an outline ahead of time of what you want to discuss, when you want to discuss these topics, and the desired outcomes for each topic. This way attendees can adequately prepare (not everyone is just spontaneously creative) and more importantly, they’ll feel a sense of satisfaction and pride of completion when the meeting ends since the expectations of the outcomes were set prior to the meeting
4. Assign a notetaker and timekeeper. “Down the rabbit hole” “offline”. These are buzzwords that will kill any meeting as there’s nothing worse than when the meeting devolves into a discussion into that one customer or that one employee that one time….have someone be your referee and have a “safe word” that everyone knows means its time to get back on track. Additionally, when there is a viable takeaway from a slight detour from a discussion, have your notetaker discern who is responsible, what they will follow up on and when they will do it. I our process, we call this a WWW (or Who What When)
5. Have a defined process for execution and follow up. Nothing de-motivates a team more than 1-2 days they spend out of the office generating great ideas for nothing to happen (not to mention the hours of “catch up” needed to address the work not done during the meeting). Ensure you have an effective system to capture the key steps to executing the ideas you generate, measure your progress, and most importantly, celebrate the successes you achieve! At align5, we believe strongly in the Scaling Up process. You can learn more about us and our coaching offerings at http://align5.com/