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The Ticket to Strategic Planning – Part 2

The Ticket to Strategic Planning - Part 2

The Strategic Planning meeting is one of the most important meetings of the year.

Your company is ready for it. You confirmed, from The Ticket to Strategic Planning – Part 1, that you have the type of culture able to handle the emotions, politics and stress of a dynamic and meaningful discussion about the future. After 25 Strategic Planning meetings, here are lessons I’ve learned based on those that worked well and those that missed the mark.

Let’s start with the basics!

Who should be there?

  • Decision Makers
    • Someone needs to give the nod or final word when things are debated. They obviously need to be present and ready when needed.
  • Visionaries
    • Not everyone sees into the future or thinks about the changes in the industry that need to be addressed. They need to be front and center in the discussion.
  • Enhancers
    • They may not come up with the initial idea, but they know the business and can add to the kernel and flesh it out from there.
  • Doers
    • Someone needs to think about how to “do” the operational initiatives. Those folks start thinking about the resources needed, the time frames to implement and the departments impacted by the plan.
  • Future Strategists
    • Not everyone is a seasoned strategic planner. There are people who need to see the process in action, and learn from those who have been there.  Make sure the next generation of leadership is watching and participating as well.

Pre-work vs. Show ’n Go

If you set the meeting and have the team just show up (Show ’n Go), you are in for a limited result. If you want to get the most out of the critical time, make sure you think, plan and give people pre-work to do in advance. If there is pre-work, people area able to discuss beforehand and some decisions can be made or agreed upon prior to stepping into the Strategic Planning room.

Pre-Work Show ‘n Go
Gives people to spend time carefully considering pros and cons of different ideas and strategies Expects people to immediately react to ideas and strategies that are presented
Provides an environment for high-level discussion based on careful consideration Can limit the view and lead to ideas and strategies based on whims
Allows for more decisions to be made and not left open to debate at the end Tends to leave meetings with open debates, follow-ups and few decisions

Rules vs. Chaos

An outside moderator or strong facilitator allows for rules to be made, communicated and followed. Having that moderator ensures that no one is above the rules.

Rules Chaos
Allows everyone to be heard equally The strongest and loudest voices tend to dominate the conversation, which creates a negative company culture
Conversations and disagreements are civil because they are based in rational thinking, not emotion The most passionate have and keep the floor longer, leading to emotion dominating the conversation
Decisions can be made during the meeting; silence can equate to “agreement” Since not everyone’s opinions are heard, decisions tend to be postponed

Strategy vs. Operations

There is often confusion about the difference between strategy and operations. While both are necessary to a company, the differences between the two and, more importantly, how they work together are what make a company successful.

Strategy Operations
Does not yet exist; involves new ideas and methods that are being tested and are not yet proven The day-to-day issues and tasks of current strategic initiatives that need resolution
Requires creative thinkers with ideas that may or may not work Managed by the current team and management with deep knowledge of the current initiatives
May involve new technologies, channels, departments or other areas of development Is maintained by the current team, technologies and departments

You have your key players in the room and your objectives set.

What’s next? Next week my blog, Strategic Planning Part 3, will cover directing the course of the actual meeting and ensuring a successful strategic planning session. Stay tuned…

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