8 Tips to Leading a Great Strategic Planning Session

Guest post from Patrick

business, a leader’s ability to strategically plan for the company’s future is
of the highest importance. Your company will not be successful if you don’t
have the strategies and execution plans in place to reach your objectives.

plans stem from great planning sessions. However, planning sessions are
traditionally viewed as boring and unproductive. In fact, according to
recent survey
, 71 percent of professionals in the U.S. felt that meetings
were fruitless. This is a direct result of poorly executed meetings.

key to leading a great planning session is to keep them effective, engaging and
able to produce results. In my book, “
Rhythm: How To Achieve Breakthrough
Execution and Accelerate Growth
I provide practical tools and tips on how to effectively lead your team toward
strategic goals and objectives. Here, I lay out eight key tips that can turn a
boring planning session into one that is engaging and productive.

1.     Have a goal already in mind.
Set clear objectives for each planning session. Make sure
that your executives are fully aware of the end goals and come prepared with
different ways of reaching them.

2.     Create an agenda.
Put as much thought as possible into an agenda that
outlines the meeting and send it to your executives a week before the meeting
so they can be prepared to discuss the topics at hand and make well-informed

3.     Come prepared.
Spend some time before the meeting thinking about the past
year or past quarter. Know what worked, what didn’t, and what needs to be improved
to achieve goals in the future. And of course, make sure your team comes
prepared as well.

4.     Set the right tone.
It is very important to have the right tone during these
meetings. Having each team member share something positive, a successful
business outcome perhaps, is a great way to start a meeting on a high note. It can
also be useful in getting people acclimated to participating in the

Be effective

Don’t worry so much about getting through everything on the
agenda; rather, focus on the right discussions that will deliver concrete
results. Be sure to slow down the meeting during the more important and
sensitive topics. 

6.     Have an idea repository.
When a topic comes up that is not on the agenda, put it on
a list for later. This way, the meeting can always come back to the person who
brought up that specific topic. This tactic helps your executives to know that
their thoughts and concerns are important and will be heard throughout the

7.     Make light of every issue.
Every company has an ‘elephant in the room’ that it doesn’t
want to discuss. Making light of these topics is great for clearing the air and
coming up with a plan and a solution. Don’t be afraid to address these topics. 

8.     End the meeting at a reasonable time.
Tired people don’t always make the best decisions. If the
session is running too long, end the meeting – especially if there are big
decisions that need to be made. Thinking about these choices overnight never hurts.
Be sure to have a backup plan for the next day to cover the information that
didn’t fit into the first session. 

sessions are essential to the success of an organization. As a leader, it is up
to you to cultivate a discussion that can successfully prepare your teams while
producing positive ideas and more importantly, results. 

Patrick Thean: 

Thean is the CEO and co-founder of Rhythm Systems, a cloud-based strategy
execution software platform that facilitates airtight execution and
measurability for mid-market CEOs. A serial entrepreneur, bestselling author
and frequent speaker, Patrick is best known for helping companies accelerate
their growth by focusing on great execution.