Over the past few years, the team at X5 Management has facilitated many strategic planning sessions, and with a business environment that is more competitive than ever, we are seeing more and more interest.
We work with organizations looking to reflect on the previous year, share information with their teams, and plan for the upcoming quarter and year. They want to know, among other things, how to do strategic planning. And we’re going to share with you the top tips we offer them in these planning sessions.
How to Do Strategic Planning
Several themes exist for these sessions including strategic growth planning, team goal setting, succession planning, and leadership or communication management.
One of the key items in planning for these meetings is first understanding what a company’s expectations are for their planning session. A consistent challenge is that organizations rarely take the time to:
- Gather input from all organization members
- Share important information with their teams
Strategic planning should represent an opportunity to discuss current issues, reflect on successes and challenges, as well as ensuring your team knows what to do to move forward.
Tips for How to Do Strategic Planning
Get your organization’s next planning session started using a few quick tips.
An off-site planning session will allow your team an opportunity to avoid workplace distractions and spend quality, focused time together. To facilitate this, pick a location that participants will feel excited about, but one that is convenient to access (i.e., many do not want to travel hours and spend overnights for these sessions).
Stick to key themes
There are always many challenges and key areas to discuss during any planning meeting. Depending on your timeframe, pick two or three key areas to focus on and stick to the time allocated in the agenda. To determine these themes, a pre-planning session survey can be helpful allowing the organizer to gather the key themes.
In addition to learning how to do strategic planning, we also cover WHY your company culture deserves a strategy in the first place in this post.
Get input from everyone
It is easy to spend the majority of the time presenting information during a strategic planning session. However, making time to collect team members’ input is equally as important. Carve time for questions after all presentations and make sessions interactive. A facilitator is trained to observe equal participation from all participants to ensure input is balanced.
Break the silence with breakout sessions
Small group discussions and activities allow everyone in attendance to involve themselves. Have activities start with small group discussions, where group highlights are brought to the attention of all participants upon completion of the activity.
Narrow your priority list
Lastly, action items are a significant final step to any strategic planning session. However, if this list is too daunting, many items may fail to materialize. Select your critical few items and set timelines for execution.
Consider a professional facilitator
Decision makers who attend Strategy Sessions need to be focused and participative. This is difficult to achieve if they are also facilitating a busy meeting agenda with many engaged stakeholders. A Facilitator can manage the agenda, remain objective, and ensure there is equal participation in the group.
We would all agree every organization needs a strategy, so it is important the efforts to create or revisit one are implemented. There is no value in planning and not executing.
According to Cascade Research, 67% of leaders believe their organization is good at crafting strategy, but only 47% believe their organization is good at implementing strategy.
Organizations need more than a strategic plan; they need a strategic execution plan. A recent survey of more than 400 global CEOs found that executional excellence was the number one challenge facing corporate leaders, and up to two thirds of large organizations struggle to implement their strategies.
They key is accountability and ensuring ownership is distributed to leadership who have the tools and resources necessary for success. This includes a communication strategy to ensure management can clearly articulate the expectations on a consistent basis to their teams.
- Not understanding how you are perceived in the market via a SWOT and a PEST
- Lack of focus with a list of too many items
- Aligning priorities with a manageable number
- Establishing accountability
- Effective communication of the new strategic plan
- What is the priority
- Who is the lead on this project
- When is the starting date
- What is the anticipated end date
- What additional resources are needed
- When is the accountability check-in date
- Who is the accountability partner (i.e., external partner)
As mentioned, organizations need more than a strategic plan, they need a strategic execution plan. Ownership needs to be shared at all leadership and management levels with regular check-ins.
This is when a coach can be an excellent resource for leaders; checking in on progress, communication, and achievement of goals can be a productive discussion in identifying successes and opportunity areas in achieving goals.
The strategic plan may be the steering wheel, but the execution of the strategy is the engine that propels it forward.