Many companies develop strategic and business plans from the top down, making business decisions without much input from the key stakeholders and not communicating the entire plan to the organization. It can be a scary and time consuming endeavour to let other people into the planning sessions. The “truth” may emerge. “Ideas” could be tabled. It takes time to work through these and prioritize them! Logixsource has been invited to facilitate many corporate planning sessions to help organizations renew and regenerate their business strategies and goals.
An offsite planning day is a creative idea and helps drive focus on this important business activity. It gets key stakeholders out of the office environment which reduces distractions. The location should be conducive to meetings yet held in a relaxed business setting. This becomes part of the overall planning process. As our key strategist, Heather Cartwright states, “execution is eighty percent planning”. Having just facilitated a strategic planning session for a board of directors meeting, Heather stresses the importance of the time to quality ratio that needs to be constantly monitored throughout the planning session.
In a one day planning session, the time management role is exceedingly important. The agenda needs to be met by the end of the day so there may not be time to get into the weeds or concentrate on developing solutions. This is where a professional facilitator is worth the investment. Their training enables them to understand when the team is going down a rabbit hole and redirect the efforts back to a higher level discussion. That said, the “Parking Lot” is a tool facilitators use to keep discussions on track. The Parking Lot is an area where ideas that are not related to the topic at hand can be placed for future consideration. A white board or easel works best in this situation.
The planning phase can include detail right down to the seating plan. The “buddy” table is usually a distraction. Share the wealth, move these folks to different tables in order to create new friendships and stimulate new ideas. This also avoids “group think” where the “buddy” table members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision making.
Finally, leaving the members with tasks to complete after the meeting helps everyone focus on the outcomes and any “parking lot” ideas that were cultivated during the meeting. Accountability following the session will keep the stakeholders engaged in the planning and leave the company better equipped for the coming fiscal period. It is also important to have appropriate follow up actions after the meeting to ensure that plans are turned into actions and the necessary communications are provided to the right people to be successful.
If you have comments or would like to discuss your strategic planning needs please contact Logixsource at 905-877-2134 or firstname.lastname@example.org.