Thursday, April 16, 2015

8 Tips to Leading a Great Strategic Planning Session

Guest post from Patrick Thean:

In 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.

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

The 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 decisions. 
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 discussions. 

5.     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 meeting.

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. 

Planning 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. 

About Patrick Thean: 
Patrick 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.  

1 comment:

hazel said...

This is a great check list for anyone leading meetings.

Too often meetings are dreaded as a waste of time. When meetings are run efficiently and there is a clear goal, attendees can attend and leave feeling their time was well used.