You’ve organized time to work on your company’s strategic plan. Great! Taking time to strategically think about your business, the processes you use and how you can grow and improve your company is an important investment of your time. Strategic planning can be immensely valuable to your company but it’s important to take a disciplined approach to running the planning process.
A good place to start is ensuring that your strategic planning meetings are productive – this is a simple way of keeping your process on track and keeping your team members engaged. No one wants to waste their time in pointless meetings, least of all you, the business owner.
- The first key to running successful planning meetings – team buy-in. You need the full attention and support of everyone involved. The time budgeted for strategic planning must be understood to be top priority by everyone participating. It is essential to make sure your team understands the purpose of strategic planning – to design a strategy to ensure future success – and the significant role they play in shaping the plan.
- The second key is realizing that no strategic plan gets completed in one sitting. You will need to plan several meetings so that you can reflect on the plan and adjust as necessary. This means each meeting topic should be short and simple. The most common mistake that results in meetings running off the rails is setting too broad an agenda or cramming too many topics into a single meeting. Several short, concise, focused planning meetings are much better than an all-day marathon.
- The third key is the agenda. Every planning meeting needs one. It should be circulated prior to the meeting along with any reports or other materials that need to be reviewed in preparation. It should include all items to be discussed with time allocated for each. The agenda should also include a goal or statement of purpose for the meeting, highlighting how the meeting fits into the strategic planning process. This way those attending know what the outcome needs to be.
- Finally, you need to ensure that your planning meeting runs as planned. The following three roles are vital for keeping things on track.
Chair – This is probably you, although it doesn’t need to be. This person is responsible for leading the meeting and keeping the group focused on the agenda items. The meeting chair needs to ensure all the voices around the table are heard, should curtail distracting discussion and overrule counter-productive arguments. The chair will decided if there is a need to end discussion on items or push them off to another meeting.
Time Keeper – Not only should every meeting begin on time, it should end on time also. The time keeper is responsible for keeping the meeting running on time and will notify the Chair if items exceed allotted time.
Scribe – The scribe takes the meeting minutes and, pending the chair’s review, circulate these to all meeting participants. The minutes should include detailed action items, including who is responsible and the delivery date.
One of the most common reasons strategic planning gets derailed is unproductive, unfocused planning meetings. Ensuring the team has a stake in the process, is committed to short-focused meetings with a clear agenda and with clearly defined roles will help your company’s strategic planning process be successful.
4 Keys to Successful Team Planning
- Buy-in of all team members to the planning process and alignment of expectations of the outcome.
- Plan the necessary time and keep each planning meeting short and concise.
- Have a detailed agenda, with a clear goal.
- Assign key roles to keep each meeting on track: chair, time keeper, scribe.
Ready to start the strategic planning process?
Work with a facilitator or learn how to lead the process yourself: