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Strategic planning calls for everyone’s full attention and energy—two things you’re not going to get sitting in your stuffy office. Turning a planning session into a retreat is a great way to kick up the energy level, get employees motivated, and ensure that you have fun while doing something that everyone dreads!
The conference room you use for daily meetings at the office has probably acquired a negative connotation after years of rallying for hour or two hour-long meetings, whereas a new location will be fresh and full of possibilities. Plus, an off-site event venue like The NEW Center will have plenty of amenities for your employees.
It’s pretty hard to get anything done when you don’t know for sure what you’re trying to accomplish. Franklin Covey, world leader in consulting and training for large corporations, recommends starting with the end in mind and working backwards from there.
Present to your group what you hope to have accomplished by the end of the planning session or retreat, and then present the steps you will take to get there. This not only ensures efficiency in the meeting, but helps everyone get on the same page and feel like a cohesive team.
A structured planning method like SWOT typically involves the team identifying core issues that are trying to be solved or main goals that need to be achieved as a starting point. This creates somewhat of an outline or roadmap for the planning session ahead.
You can even ask your group to do some work ahead of time to prep for the meeting. Ask each team member to come prepared with a list of their perceived strengths and weaknesses of the team and then compare with the group.
Research shows that people are able to better digest information when it’s broken up into smaller chunks. This idea not only applies to chunks of text on a page, but also to chunks of time spent on an activity. Break up your day of planning with some energizing activities that will re-charge your team and get them feeling like, well…. a team!
Integrating some light competitive activities could spark passion in even the quietest person in the office, which could then translate into competing for the best ideas of the day. Plus, you’re helping to promote a healthy and happy lifestyle at your corporation!
After a day’s worth of planning, the last thing you want to do is send everyone home without a follow-up in mind. A strategic planning session is not fully complete until you have a solid strategic execution plan, which can only be solidified after each department has come up with their own implementation plans that will help them complete department-specific goals.
Perhaps you send everyone home with the expectation that the next week will be used to come up with those implementation plans, and then the entire team will meet again to agree on a strategic execution plan. However and whenever you decide to do so, a finished strategic execution plan is the ultimate goal and sign that you’ve successfully finished planning.