How to run an effective strategy planning day

How to run an effective strategy planning day

How to run an effective strategy planning day

16 Mar 2021

How to run an effective strategy planning day teaser By Mark Giglia, Director, AR Advisors

Running an effective strategy planning session doesn’t have to be complicated. Sticking to some simple guidelines will help keep everyone on track so you get the comprehensive plan of action your business needs.

At the end of a strategy planning day you should have a crystal-clear idea of where your business is directing its energies over the next 12 months, who’s responsible for what, and what the key deadlines are. Easy, right?
 
If you’ve ever attended a planning day that didn’t quite hit the mark, you’ll know it’s not always as straightforward as it sounds. But running an effective strategy planning session doesn’t have to be complicated. Sticking to some simple guidelines will help keep everyone on track so you get the comprehensive plan of action your business needs.
 
Mark the date
Make time in the diary to get all the key players in the same room at the same time. They’ll be responsible for driving the strategy forward so you need them to have buy-in on the day.
 
Get ready
The quintessential SWOT analysis is a good place to start your preparation. Seeking everyone’s input before the day means they’ll come armed with some points for discussion. Also ask participants: What are your personal goals? What do you want the business to achieve? Personal goals will often drive business goals.
 
On the day
A written agenda will provide structure as you devote uninterrupted time to planning your strategy for the coming year. By the end of the day, you want everybody on the same page, eliminating risk and/or driving the business forward. Invite the creative thinking and honest discussion that can unlock fresh views and ideas. Avoid the temptation to problem-solve on the day.

If you feel you’re getting bogged down in the detail, agree to park the issue, note it and resolve to come back to it later. Maybe in a separate session. An external facilitator, such as your business advisor, can prepare the agenda, keep discussions focused and bring an external business perspective to the debate.

And don’t forget to take breaks. It can be a heavy thinking day, so make sure there are opportunities to stretch and refresh. The goal is to come up with an action list and a clear set of priorities that are all documented.
 
Follow up
If there’s no implementation, your strategy day will automatically register as a Fail. Don’t skip the follow-up meeting, when you’ll assign deadlines and decide who will be accountable for each item.
 
Rinse and repeat
Once you’ve locked away your annual planning day, make time for quarterly reviews. How have we gone? What have we achieved? How are we performing against our strategy? What’s happening in the next three months? Strategy planning is not a one and done.
 
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