I know. Summer isn’t over yet. It may seem a little early to be thinking about a strategic planning guide for 2019. It isn’t. Whether you’re in Cincinnati or anywhere in America, it’s time to make plans so next year is your best ever.
In the last fifteen years I’ve helped facilitate and implement over 450 strategic plans. Here are some of the more common issues that CEOs and business leaders think about when it comes to strategic planning.
The benefit of holding your next annual planning session in your building is convenience. Everyone is already there. You have meeting rooms. There’s little extra cost or complexity.
Interruptions are one of the biggest downsides to holding your strategic planning at your facility. People know you’re in the boardroom and they assume they should bring you in on normal matters.
The case for doing strategic planning at an offsite location lies in the fact that it isn’t being held at your normal stomping grounds. Interruptions stop. The newness of the surroundings helps people to think differently, more creatively. It’s also a bonding opportunity for your leadership team. For most companies, the value of better ideas far outweighs the added expense.
The gut instinct from many frugal CEOs is to do everything in one or two days. In some cases, that will suffice. In many cases it will not.
The truth is, the amount of time you should dedicate to your strategic planning depends on many factors. How many people are needed to give input? How big are your challenges? How great are your opportunities? Do you already have a long-term plan or are you just focused on 2019?
In many cases, a good rule of thumb is to give two days to outlining the challenges, opportunities and threats. This is when you want to get input from your front-line managers, not just senior leaders. Afterwards, hold a follow up one or two-day session with business leaders to formulate your plans. That second strategic planning meeting could come on the heels of the first or be scheduled a week later.
As organizations become larger and more complex, the value of an outside facilitator increases dramatically.
Facilitators know how to keep things on track. They know how to pull out information that is valuable and how to shut down what is not. They help get decisions made and make detailed notes on exactly what was decided. They help people think differently and more strategically.
Facilitators assign pre-reads and set the agenda, in coordination with leadership. They do work before, during and after to ensure the overall success.
And because the outside facilitator is running the meeting, that allows key executives to stay in the moment, focused on generating the best ideas…not on taking notes or when the next break is scheduled.
Great outside facilitators also go two steps further. They compile the notes and decisions into a detailed written strategic plan. Then they work with senior leadership to ensure the right work gets done.
The world is changing at an ever-faster rate. Those organizations that have sharply focused plans for where they want to go have a much greater likelihood of getting there. Those that don’t have a strong strategic plan had better buckle up for the ride.
This strategic planning guide for 2019 is just the start. If you would like to give your organization a real leg up on the competition, give me a call. I’ll help you maximize your strategic planning. We’ll come up with a plan that will help make 2019 your best ever.