tips for strategic planning session

How to Facilitate a Strategic Planning Session [2024 Strategic Planning Workshop]

By Ted Skinner

strategy planning

Annual & Quarterly Planning

how to facilitation a strategic planning session

At Rhythm Systems, our consultants are trained strategic facilitators who are crucial in strategic planning. They are planning experts who help you get the most ROI from your meeting with their expert facilitation skills. We have facilitated hundreds of successful Strategic Planning , Annual Planning , and Quarterly Planning sessions for our clients. In this blog post, we will share expert insights from these sessions so that you can scale up your company. Strategy planning (and expert facilitation) is vital as the longer-term strategic priorities drive the shorter-term goals, projects, and actions with complete organizational alignment .

Note to strategic CEOs: Along with our ability to educate, coach, and facilitate specific content and methodology during on-site sessions, one of the main reasons CEOs choose to bring us in to run their sessions is so that the CEO can fully participate and implement their 5 year plan template . It is impossible for a CEO to effectively facilitate a session with all the stakeholders and fully participate simultaneously. The CEO's contribution and participation is significant to reach the desired outcome. Session facilitation is an extra burden that is better placed on another team member or an expert facilitator. You should learn to be a good facilitator with tips and tricks or consult with us to see if hiring an expert makes sense.

Free Guide: How to Facilitate a Strategic Planning Session

Rhythm Systems Annual Planning Facilitation Guide

Strategic Planning Facilitation Step 1: THINK Through the Purpose and Outcome of the Meeting

Stephen Covey advises us to "begin with the end in mind." What is the purpose of this meeting? What do we hope to accomplish? Who should attend? What are our strategic objectives for this workshop? What work should the meeting participants get done before the meeting (research and homework)? What are the specific outcomes or outputs we are looking for from this strategic planning session? What is the role of a facilitator in a strategic planning session? Do we need a plan B for a potential 2024 recession ?

Creating an Objective Statement that you can share with the rest of the team in advance is a great way to ensure everyone who attends the meeting has shared goals and expectations for your time together. It will also clarify you as you move into step 2 and begin planning for the session. Make sure that this aligns with your mission statement. This differs from  team meetings ; setting expectations upfront is critical for your strategic objectives. 

An Objective Statement consists of three parts:

Part 1: TO : (What is the action? What will you do? Start with a verb.)

Part 2. IN A WAY THAT : (How will you do it? List criteria, scope, involvement, success measures, specific tactics, side benefits, or any other relevant information. Use bullet points.)

Part 3. SO THAT : (Why are you doing this? Why is it essential? What is the main benefit?)

Sample Objective Statement for one company's Quarterly Planning Session

QUARTERLY PLANNING OBJECTIVE STATEMENT

TO : Conduct a practical strategic planning session

IN A WAY THAT:

  • Brings the Senior Leadership Team together for two full days to develop an effective strategy
  • Highlights the previous quarter's accomplishments
  • Updates and advances our Annual Plan and long-term goal attainment
  • It allows us to discuss-debate-agree critical topics as a team
  • It prepares us to overcome any potential obstacles to hitting our year-end goals
  • Identifies 3-5 Company Priorities, complete with owners and clear success criteria
  • Identifies clear Individual Priorities for each member of the leadership team
  • Prepares us to begin thinking about next year's Annual Plan
  • It allows us to identify strengths and weaknesses
  • Answers the key questions facing our company and industry
  • It helps us clearly define and communicate our business strategy to the entire organization
  • Fun ideas for strategic planning are always considered and change up the energy in the room

SO THAT : We finish this year strong and set ourselves up for a solid start to next year.

Professional Strategic Planning Facilitation Video

Strategic planning facilitation step 2: plan all the details in advance.

Anytime you bring your team together for a meeting, whether for a few hours or days, you invest time, energy, and money. The way to ensure you get the most out of your investment is to be adequately prepared. The preparation checklist below will help you.

Learn More Expert Facilitation .Learn more about the Rhythm System, the complete solution for strategy, execution, coaching, methodology, and software.  

Strategic Planning Process Meeting Preparation Checklist

  • Set the date – You will want to determine and set the date as soon as possible so that everyone on your team can attend. The longer you wait, the harder it is to find a time that works. If this is an ongoing, standing meeting, ensure everyone has it on their calendar every time it occurs and actively works to protect the scheduled time with the team.
  • Select the Facilitator – It is essential to pick the right person to facilitate your session. The facilitator is responsible for creating the agenda, preparing content material (slides/visuals), arriving early to ensure setup and materials, testing technology, and facilitating the session. If you must choose someone on your team who will be in attendance, remember to occasionally stop during the meeting and ask their opinion if not previously shared. If you choose someone who would not usually be in attendance, ensure they understand that their job is to facilitate, not offer opinions on discussions they would not typically be involved in. Role clarity is essential.
  • Select a location – A meeting or planning session in your conference room can be ineffective. The opportunity to lose focus and be interrupted by operational issues increases exponentially. This is fine for short, weekly, routine meetings, but we recommend taking your team off-site for 1-2 day planning sessions. 
  • Choose a Meeting Coordinator – This person is in charge of handling all of the logistics for the meeting, making sure participants have made travel arrangements, the conference room (on-site or off-site) is booked and set up for the session, and that all participants are aware of any homework/preparation that is needed for the session. Use someone on your team who is meticulous with details and have them build a strategic planning checklist for future meetings.
  • Prepare the meeting material – You and the facilitator should refer to your Objective Statement when creating the agenda. Be careful not to overload your agenda. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in the time you have available. Create a basic time plan to accompany your agenda. This will help you know whether or not you are on track during the meeting. Less is more when it comes to slides. The old rule was no more than 6x6 (six words long by six bullets). In today's Twitter and drive-through world, you're better served to stick to 4x4 or, better yet, 3x3. Consider revealing information one bullet point at a time, especially if you must have more than 6x6 on a slide, and always ensure it is written for your target audience.   Use our AI Goal Coach if you have any questions!
  • Email the meeting agenda and pre-work to the attendees - Communicate with all attendees at least two weeks before the session, sharing the objective statement, agenda, and any pre-work you want them to do. Realize that some people - even with proper instruction - may be in the habit of attending meetings unprepared. If you consider the pre-work essential, let the team know that it's mandatory and require them to return it in advance, or instruct them to bring copies to the meeting and build time to share the output into your agenda. This will allow people to think about the strategic goals for themselves and the company ahead of the meeting.
  • Last minute details - Work with the meeting coordinator to ensure all the meeting details have been addressed: supplies ordered, lunch planned, technology arrangements made, attendance confirmed, action plans, etc.

Remember to be realistic about what you can accomplish in the available time and set the agenda appropriately. The strategic planning facilitator must also keep the team focused on having the proper discussions for your organization. Understanding and working with the group dynamics is essential, especially in a large group. This related article can read more details about a virtual strategic planning session .

Strategic Planning Facilitation Step 3: Do the Hard Work of Running the Strategy Session

Three definitions of the role of the facilitator:

  • "An individual who enables groups and organizations to work more effectively; to collaborate and achieve synergy. He or she is a 'content neutral' party who by not taking sides or expressing or advocating a point of view during the meeting, can advocate for fair, open, and inclusive procedures to accomplish the group's work."
  • "One who contributes structure and process to interactions so groups are able to function effectively and make high-quality decisions. A helper and enabler whose goal is to support others as they achieve exceptional performance."
  • "The facilitator's job is to support everyone to do their best thinking and practice. To do this, the facilitator encourages full participation, promotes mutual understanding and cultivates shared responsibility. By supporting everyone to do their best thinking, a facilitator enables group members to search for inclusive solutions and build sustainable agreements."

The word facilitation means to make it easy. Too bad actually facilitating a group of people isn't. It takes a tremendous amount of energy, focus, quick thinking, and patience to facilitate a meeting. Following the first two steps in this blog post (Step 1: THINK and Step 2: PLAN), you are set up for a successful session. But there is still much work to do.

Here are 15 Tips to keep the strategy session moving positively.

15 Expert Tips for Facilitating a Great Zoom Strategy Meeting

Set ground rules at the beginning of the meeting . Let the team discuss their expectations for full participation, candor, sidebars, interruptions, tangents, and cell phone and computer use. This conversation upfront creates an environment of accountability and high commitment to the meeting. Ground rules will help reduce the stress of group interaction and make it easier to resolve problems when they arise. Capture your ground rules on a flip chart while discussing and post for reference throughout the meeting. To start with some energy, I suggest using one of our Zoom icebreakers to get things started.

Trust the process . Remember that you have put a great deal of time into steps 1 & and 2, so you are going into the day with a good game plan. Sometimes, things seem disjointed, or the team doesn't understand where you're going. Tell them there is a method to the madness, and ask them to trust the process with you. When utilizing a slide deck and agenda provided by Rhythm Systems, know that the function and content have been tested and proven to work many times. It may not all come together until the very end, but if you are going in with a clear objective and well-thought-out agenda, the results you're looking for will follow, and problem-solving will occur.

annual planning

Give yourself permission to deviate from the time plan if a topic requires more time than you thought it would. As long as the additional time is used for good, healthy debates on important issues and not the beating of dead horses, it will be a good use of time. If you do deviate from the time plan, involve the team in deciding how you will make it up. You may choose to stay late or start early one day, or you may decide to cut or shorten the time allowed for another topic. Involving the team in this discussion and decision increases engagement, energy, and commitment.

Celebrate your progress as you move through the session . Reflect on lessons learned and breakthroughs. Acknowledge someone when they're brave enough to bring up a tricky subject. Check-in with each other to ensure you're all engaged. After breaks, consider restating what's been accomplished and where you are on the agenda.

Use icebreakers with purpose. Ice breakers are quick, interactive exercises designed to get the team's brain working and mouth moving. They are usually used at the beginning of a session, after breaks, and after lunch. They can also be great for raising the energy level late in the afternoon. A quick Google search will provide hundreds of ideas for icebreakers. One of our favorites is a quick round of victories or good news. This serves several purposes. It gives team members a chance to share information, allows them to get to know each other better, and starts the meeting positively. We recommend that you start every session with some version of good news.

Encourage full and equal participation. A team comprises many individuals, each with their own personality and preferred work style. Some are naturally more dominant and expressive, while others may be more thoughtful and reserved. One type is not better than another, and the fact that they're on your team means you value their input. The facilitator's job is to recognize these different styles and run the meeting in a way that gives each person a chance to contribute. This is a good discussion at the beginning of the session as you set the ground rules.

Set the expectation of full and equal participation clear and give the team a chance to discuss how they will do this. The facilitator may have to step in throughout the meeting, explicitly calling on individuals who have not spoken up. The facilitator may also design the meeting to include specific opportunities to hear from everyone. Examples of this would be small group breakout sessions or employing different brainstorming methods (see #8.)

Use visual aids effectively. Any combination of flip charts, whiteboards, sticky notes, posters, PowerPoint/Keynote, and handouts will do. We've all seen the person who used every animation tool within PowerPoint - wiggly jiggly icons, annoying animations, slides swiping in from 20 directions in 5 different ways. Don't overdo it; allow your visuals to distract from the meeting. People have different learning styles; Some are visual learners, some auditory, some kinesthetic, and some experiential, so mix it up and use all aids in moderation. Keep in mind that your body language is one of the most essential visual aids that you have; make sure that you make people feel like they are being heard.

Use different methods for brainstorming. Round robin, freewheeling, group pass, and silent reflection are all proven methods you may try. Brainstorming aims to produce a comprehensive list of potential ideas, solutions, or plans. When done well, brainstorming should increase participation, reduce inhibition, stimulate ideas, increase creativity, and be a group process.

Strategic Planning Brainstorming Methods:

  • Focus on quantity first and capture as many ideas as possible.
  • Encourage and welcome all ideas - ask the team to dig deep and think beyond the obvious - every idea submitted should be captured.
  • Hold off on judgment, criticism, or reality checks - this should be a "safe time." Ideas will be discussed and debated later.
  • Use short phrases and bullet points, not paragraphs and lengthy explanations.
  • "Piggyback" on others' ideas. Outlandish ideas can be stepping stones to good, workable ideas.
  • Although giving a brief overview of brainstorming rules can be helpful, there's no need to go into an elaborate explanation. "Let's brainstorm annual priorities that will move us toward our 3-5 year strategic plan . Remember, let's not judge the ideas but just capture and understand them first." Then, begin your chosen method of brainstorming. As you move through the process, anticipate that someone will break the rules - that's when the facilitator steps in and makes the correction.

Round Robin

Ask for a volunteer to start the brainstorming process with one idea. The facilitator captures the idea on a flip chart for all to see. Ask the volunteer to choose whether to go to the right or the left, allowing the person sitting next to them to offer one idea. The facilitator continues to chart the answers, going around the room until everyone can contribute at least one picture. You can then try to take a second pass around the room if the ideas are flowing freely, or you may open it up to anyone who has another idea not previously mentioned.

Freewheeling

Suppose you're working with a group where equal participation is not an issue. In that case, you may be able to open the brainstorming session up by asking for ideas and allowing people to offer suggestions in any order at all. Use the participants' words to chart all ideas with short bullet points. This method can go fast, so you may want to ask for a volunteer to help chart answers using a second flip chart.

Each person in the group starts with a piece of paper, writes down one idea, and then passes the piece of paper to the next person. The following person then builds on the original idea, adding a few thoughts. Continue around the room until the owner returns their original piece of paper. You can then ask each person to take a minute to review their original idea and share it with the team.

Silent Reflection

Some people need a little time to think and formulate their ideas. Instruct the team that you give them a certain amount of time (5-15 minutes, depending on the topic) to think and write down their ideas. You can ask them to write their thoughts on sticky notes, one idea per note, or list them on paper. If you use sticky notes, you can ask them to read one statement at a time and place them on the wall, grouping all similar ideas together. If they are written on notebook paper, you can use the round-robin method to share and chart the ideas.

Use a Parking Lot. Stay on track by creating a place to capture ideas that are inappropriate to the discussion at hand but that you don't want to lose. Make it visible to all using a whiteboard, tear sheet, etc. This helps you keep the meeting focused without chasing too many "rabbit trails." It is important to honor all ideas, questions, and concerns during a session, and by placing the item in your parking lot, you send the subtle message that all contributions are essential. Refer to the parking lot items while facilitating when appropriate and review any unresolved items at the end of your session, moving them to an action item list. In a strategy meeting, you must keep the team on task; using a parking lot can help you accomplish that.

Deal with difficult people ahead of time. Before your meeting, think about participants who tend to be outspoken, dominate, or argue in meetings. Think also about participants who may have felt bullied or intimidated or have a history of not participating openly. Have a conversation with these people before the session, explaining your concern and asking for their help in creating a healthy and productive environment. When talking to the dominant person, helpful language might include, "Jim, I'm trying to increase participation in this meeting. I appreciate your outspokenness and value your input. If it's ok with you, I'd like you to go last so I may first hear the rest of the team's thinking before you share yours." Be sure to reevaluate and give that participant a chance to share.

This is also an excellent topic to discuss while setting ground rules at the beginning of the session. Discuss the expectations for politeness and tone during the meeting, and ask the team for permission to point it out if things get off track. If a conflict arises during a meeting, the facilitator must be prepared to step in and take control of the meeting. Anytime the discussion becomes accusatory or personal, the facilitator can ask the participant to reword statements so that they are focused on solutions, facts, and business issues, not people and blame. An excellent technique for redirecting a heated discussion is to ask the team to discuss their learnings rather than their frustrations. Be sure to do this whenever the language becomes personal; before you know it, your team will police this behavior themselves. Conflict resolution is the central role of the facilitator.

Keep the energy high. Enthusiasm is contagious - and so is negativity. Some people need to doodle while they think, some need toys like a Koosh ball or rubber Gumby, others need talk time with other participants, and others need to stand up or walk around the room from time to time. Think through your meeting day and plan ways to keep the energy high for the entire time to keep the group paying attention.

Have participants work in pairs, write something down, work together on puzzles, make mini-presentations on topics assigned before and after breaks, schedule group breakout sessions, etc. Remember that the room's energy is often a notch or two below the facilitator's, so it is vital to keep your energy high. Try to get plenty of sleep the night before, eat well, have plenty of water on hand, and take breaks as needed, as group facilitation is challenging!

Get to a consensus. Many discussion topics require moving the group from several individuals, independent ideas to one agreed-upon group decision. Consensus can be defined professionally as an acceptable resolution everyone on the team can support. It does not mean that everyone on the team has to agree that this is their number one favorite resolution, just that they will support the decision in the future. Supporting a decision means that you will speak positively about the decision to others and do everything in your power to ensure the decision results in a positive outcome. You will not say," They decided."

Explaining the definition of consensus and support to the team at the beginning of the discussion can help resolve the issue. An essential step in reaching a consensus is ensuring that all ideas are evaluated, and everyone's perspective is heard. This is important in getting buy-in for the conclusion and generating the best ideas and solutions. Structuring a process for team decision-making is a critical facilitation skill.

Expert Tips for Strategic Planning Decision-Making:

  • Use the brainstorming tips above to identify all viable solutions (see #8)
  • Combine and link similar ideas
  • Use structured methods, like The Six Thinking Hats, to help take the emotion out of the discussion.
  • Set a time limit for discussion on each potential solution
  • Make sure everyone is participating in the debate and, make sure everyone is actively listening and applying their listening skills
  • Work to narrow the options down to as few as possible
  • Don't be afraid to call for a vote to see how close the group is to completing the agreement
  • If there are just one or two holdouts, seek to understand what and how firm their objections are
  • Engage the group in troubleshooting to minimize the potential negative impact identified by any complaints or concerns raised
  • Restate the most popular resolution, adding one or two points addressing the concerns raised, and ask the holdouts if they can support that decision
  • Sometimes, people will get caught up in the moment and continue the debate just to argue. Ask the holdout if they will lose sleep if the group moves forward with the proposed resolution. Refer to the definition of support and ask if they will support the decision.
  • With consensus, there is often compromise. Only some get everything they want out of the final decision. However, because you created an environment where everyone has had an opportunity for input, the conclusions reached will often be very successful and highly supported.
  • If you are running a virtual strategic planning session,  visit the link to learn some additional tips to help you get the most out of your planning session.

Document and publish the Who-What-When. Who-What-When action items are leading indicators of successful meeting outcomes. How often do teams meet, discuss, and debate critical topics, then set the next meeting date only to discover that no progress has been made at the next meeting? As the facilitator, it is essential that you make sure that every critical discussion ends in a documented action captured in an action list of Who is accountable (one person only), What they will do, and When it will be completed. Create a habit of ending meetings with a review of the Who-What-When and beginning discussions with confirmation on completing the actions assigned.

Finish strong. People won't always remember what you do or say, but they will never forget how you made them feel. And what they will remember most is how they felt at the end of the meeting. Whether you completed every objective you laid out or worked through the agenda, it's essential to recognize the team's accomplishments and celebrate their focus, contribution, time invested, and hard work. Finish the meeting by recapping the decisions, reviewing the actions committed, and confirming the next steps. We also recommend allowing everyone to share how they feel as they leave. You can go around the room and ask each person to share a one-word/one-phrase closing statement or share one takeaway or breakthrough they gained during the meeting.

Ask for feedback . Great facilitators are not born overnight. They develop and improve over years of experience. And the most experienced facilitators know that asking for feedback is the best way to improve. You can ask the team before they leave to write down one bright spot from the meeting and one area to work on or do differently next time. Please feel free to email everyone after the session, asking for feedback. Or, you can ask for a quick one-on-one conversation with a few trusted advisors.

You would like to encourage feedback on the agenda, pre-session communication, design of the day, homework, and how you performed and handled difficult situations during the session. If you want to receive feedback, please take it seriously. Don't take it personally or complain to others about it. All feedback, even negative feedback, is a gift. Thank the person who shared with you, and I'd like to make every effort to incorporate all helpful suggestions into your next session. Stay encouraged and stick with it. You will improve every time you facilitate, so please volunteer and look for opportunities to practice. Over time, the tips in this blog post will become second nature. Good luck!

This blog post shares tips and tricks for facilitation from the Facilitator guide written by Chris Cosper and Barry Pruit and adapted to a blog post by Ted Skinner. If you'd like to download the strategic planning manual, please click here . We hope you enjoy the facilitation techniques outlined in this article to keep group discussions positive and productive. We hope this answers your question about how to lead a strategic planning session; if you want to get the best ROI on your investment of time and energy, please feel free to  drop us a line , and we'll see if it makes sense for you.

Learn More About Rhythm

Read our other strategic planning and facilitation articles below:

Annual Planning: 9 Tips to Focus & Align Your Team with a Great Plan

Annual Planning Playbook: 5 Steps to Create a Winning Annual Plan

How CEOs Can Avoid High-Cost Mistakes in Annual Planning

Best Practices for Annual Planning

16 Strategic Planning Tips to Keep Your Strategic Plan Alive

The CEO Strategy-Execution Gap...And How To Fix It

Choose Your 3-Year Strategic Growth Initiatives Wisely With This 4-Step Process

5 Steps to Getting Started on 3-Year Strategic Plans with Winning Moves

Have you been able to validate your 3 Year Strategic Plan?

Robust 3 Year Strategic Plans to Grow Revenue and Stay Competitive

Don't Confuse Strategic Thinking And Strategy Execution Plans

9 Steps to a New Revenue Growth Strategy [Infographic]

Photo credit: iStock by Getty Images

Ted Skinner

Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images

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Ten Tips on How to Lead a Strategic Planning Session

Oct 15, 2023

Whether you’re just beginning your strategic planning or in the middle of a process, these tips can help you create the best possible plan for your organization:

2. Start meeting after you get ready.  If I could change one thing about the traditional planning process, it would be when the planning committee starts the meeting. In my experience, the most effective use of a planning committee is to have an initial meeting where the timeline and planning process is reviewed and agreed upon. After you are ready (see the above paragraph), hold the planning retreat, where you get the collective input and ideas that inform the committee’s work. Then, the committee meets, usually two to four times, to bring the plan together.

3. Allow time for big-picture thinking together.  Many times, the board and staff try to squeeze the big, strategic discussions into a half-day retreat. I get it; we’re all busy and there are plenty of tempting reasons why there is never enough time.

Effective leadership requires time management to ensure your team gets the most out of your meetings.  It’s worth it to make the time. To create a strategic plan, you need time to digest information, bring everyone up to speed, and think big with your planning group.

Whenever possible, carve out a day and a half for your kick-off planning session. If that truly isn’t possible, another option is to use regularly scheduled team and/or board meetings to prepare everyone for a full or half-day session. Add on an extra hour onto your regularly scheduled board meeting, or re-structure several of your board agendas for presentations on stakeholder feedback, financial and service trends.

4. Ask the hard questions.  This is easy to say but more difficult to do. Usually, one of the toughest moments of a planning process is when I ask groups to not only think about what they need to stop doing but to actually commit to stop doing it. Here are some questions to think about: What are our Sacred Cows? If we were only going to do one or two things really well, what would they be? Does this organization need to exist the way it’s structured? What assumptions are we making that prevent us from seeing a different approach to better achieve our mission?

5. Concentrate on what moves the dial.  Not every organization needs big, hairy, audacious goals (BHAG). They sound good on paper but can be unrealistic to achieve. Instead, identify the handful of strategies that – if you courageously commit and allocate resources to – will move your organization significantly forward.

7. Don’t write your plan in stone.  Good strategic plans are fluid, not rigid and unbending. They allow you to adapt to changes in the marketplace. Don’t be afraid to change your plan as necessary.

8. Keep it simple and clear. I favor plans that don’t get too granular. Every plan needs goals, key action steps, and accountabilities – but avoid getting in the weeds with multi-year operational activities, deadlines, and assignments. I suggest no more than a one-year operational plan prepared by staff to accompany the initial strategic plan.

9. Make strategy a habit, not just a retreat.  Embed a practice to work the plan and maintain rigor around implementation. Otherwise, none of it is worth doing and is a waste of everyone’s time. One way to do this is to develop a strategic agenda for your leadership meetings. This agenda leverages the strategic plan to inform your meeting agendas and plan time for a review of performance achievements (I suggest quarterly and at least bi-annually). Focus on accountability for results, lessons learned, and changes to be made.

10. Have Fun!  Strategic planning is a time to build cohesion among the board and staff. Leverage your planning time so that it’s also relationship time. Plan your icebreakers and team activities around your planning goals. For example, create a Did You Know quiz based on key facts about your organization. It’s a great way to reinforce important information with board members and can help educate newer board members.

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How to hold a strategic planning meeting: A simple, step-by-step guide for facilitators

tips for strategic planning session

If you’re running or facilitating a strategic planning meeting, there are many factors to consider.

It’s much more than just bringing everyone together to have an open discussion — and it doesn’t just happen on its own, either.

There are several steps you can take to ensure that your strategic planning meeting runs smoothly, but it all starts with preparation.

Today, we’ll explore a few ideas to help you hold a successful session, starting with the basics.

Try Miro’s Strategic Planning Template

  • What is strategic planning?

Strategic planning is the process of analyzing a current situation within your organization and making sure it’s aligned with your specific objectives. If it isn’t, you and your team must develop a plan to “correct the path.”

So, why is strategic planning important?

In short, strategic planning helps you get from where you are today to the future you want. It’s a way of breaking down big, daunting goals into manageable steps that address your current situation and guide your work.

Visual representation of the strategic planning process

Here’s where strategic planning meetings come into play.

Meetings are the cornerstone of the strategic planning process.

These meetings are typically held by facilitators , but anyone can lead a strategic planning meeting.

We’ll provide you with specific instructions to hold a successful meeting a bit later, but first, let’s answer a crucial question.

What is the purpose of a strategic plan meeting?

Broadly speaking, a facilitator will use meetings to either:

  • Gather specific information and feedback from team members, executives, and stakeholders.
  • Help team members work together to solve problems, think strategically, and create new ideas to improve the organization.

These meetings aim to provide clarity in decision-making.

This is not a typical meeting where participants spend time reporting out. Strategy planning is all about brainstorming and collaboration .

This way, you can develop solutions to tangible problems in your organization and set the tone and strategic direction for your team.

Who needs to be included?

The best way to ensure that you get all of the most relevant voices in the room is to create an invite list.

Include people from each relevant department, if possible.

This way, you can cover a more complete spectrum of your company’s operations and activities.

You’ll want to include upper management, but don’t stop there.

Bring in members of the sales department, investor relations, human resources, and any other relevant departments or stakeholders.

You might also consider inviting people from outside of the organization who can provide a fresh perspective.

This is particularly useful for organizations that are doing business in a new market or have started offering new products.

  • Best practices for running a successful strategic planning session

Now that you understand the importance of effective strategic planning meetings, the question becomes, how do you actually hold one?

Let’s cover a few of the best practices:

Strategic planning best practices

Build buy-in before the meeting starts

First, you’ll want to build buy-in with everyone involved.

Keep what you’re doing top-of-mind, whether that’s through casual conversations or company-wide memos.

In addition, make sure to have a clear agenda prepared, so everyone knows what they can expect out of the meeting. Start by defining the goal, then detail how you’ll get there.

Also, get all the materials you need together in advance.

That may look like coordinating with IT to make sure everyone has access to company software, sending out pertinent documents in advance, or mapping out who will be speaking at the meeting.

Make sure to communicate your expectations clearly so that everyone knows what is expected of them and why.

You’ll want to spend time in your planning stages to keep the tone positive, while at the same time being realistic about what’s possible.

Ultimately, your goal should be to align the team around a shared vision and mission so that you can move forward with a shared perspective.

Now, how can you communicate this agenda?

We suggest you use a centralized space where everyone can see your agenda.

For example, you can use Miro’s Agenda template to create and share your agenda with participants.

Miro's Agenda template screenshot

You can also use the template to keep notes during the meeting and add refinements later.

This way, everyone can see what’s been discussed and the next steps for moving forward.

Remember; this should be a collaborative effort, so consider asking for ideas from everyone about what they’d like to see covered.

Just don’t forget to actually take those ideas into consideration.

Develop a transparent strategic planning process

During the strategic process, you’re inviting employees to have meaningful discussions around the company’s vision statement, strategic goals, and strategic objectives.

It’s important to have a roadmap in place for how you will facilitate the process so that employees know what to expect.

Your meeting should be an open, engaging discussion with transparent dialog. During the meeting, everyone should get a turn to talk.

Make sure you have a clear process that allows everyone to participate and feel heard, no matter what their role is.

In the planning stage of a meeting, it’s important to have as much input as possible.

You can involve everyone by holding a virtual brainstorming session with this brainstorming template . Once you create a board, you can invite people to collaborate in real time.

Miro's brainwriting template screenshot

This template helps you create a more engaging and collaborative session while allowing every person on the team to contribute their thoughts.

Create an agenda and stick to it

We all know what happens when an agenda is not set or adhered to.

Creating an agenda for your meeting helps you and your participants stay on track. This agenda should include topics, questions, milestones, and people.

Milestones are the larger topics that will be broken down into smaller questions, and these questions should flow to the ultimate goal of narrowing down your strategic priorities.

You can create milestones by putting together a list of discussion questions that will help your participants get on topic and help you check in with the group.

Your agenda might include an opening discussion, a brainstorming session on ideas, and a closing review of the next steps.

When developing your agenda:

  • Keep it short: The last thing you want is your meeting to drag on for no good reason, so try to limit each agenda item to ten minutes or less. The whole meeting should only take an hour or two, at most.
  • Be selective: Don’t include too many topics or ideas that will bog down your meeting.
  • Create a contingency plan: You never know what might happen during your meeting, so always have a backup plan in case your agenda falls through.
  • Plan for breaks: For longer meetings or workshops, set aside at least half an hour to take a break, such as during lunchtime.

Make it interactive

As much as possible, you’ll want to make this a collaborative effort, so it’s important to get everyone involved.

For example, you might want to break the group down into smaller sub-teams to brainstorm opportunities for new product features.

You could also task each group with creating a list of opportunities for particular departments within your company.

The point is that you’ll want to encourage open and honest dialog about challenges your company is facing and, where possible, break down any barriers that might stand in the way of progress.

Make sure to collaboratively create strategy documents, provide regular updates on progress, and discuss strategic issues in real time.

Miro's collaboration features in action

This way, you can work side-by-side to improve your performance, no matter where in the world your team members happen to be.

  • How to run a strategic planning meeting in 7 steps

To get the most out of each session, you should prepare thoroughly — from the agenda to who you’ll involve and how.

Whether you’re holding a remote, hybrid, or in-person meeting, this process will help you out.

1. Define a clear outcome for the meeting

A strategic planning meeting can go totally off-the-rails if it’s held without a defined objective. That’s why the very first step is to define a clear, tangible goal for the meeting.

For example, your objective might be to better align social media with your marketing strategies .

In this case, your meeting might include a discussion on the purpose of social media, its role in the planning process, and how to better align your social media campaign with your organizational goals.

If your goal is to develop a new product , your meeting might look different.

Consider discussing who the target audience would be and how you can get in front of them. You could also discuss how the product should be positioned in the marketplace and what strategies you’ll use to get it there.

You can also set specific strategic planning meeting themes as part of your objectives, such as business growth or innovation.

The point is to be as specific as possible with your goal. That way, it’s easier for everyone to stay on task and make the right decisions.

2. Break the ice

A strategic planning meeting can be a big undertaking, so it’s important to break the ice by engaging participants in some friendly conversation.

You may want to ask participants what they think of the company’s latest direction or engage them in a fun icebreaker activity. You can also ask them what they think of the new business strategy and how they would implement it.

Or you could ask participants to complete an activity that allows them to interact with one another and develop a better understanding of each other’s unique skills.

For instance, you could assign participants to form teams, and then ask them to create a project plan to solve an issue the company might be experiencing.

You can also break the ice by having participants introduce themselves.

If you’re holding a remote or hybrid meeting, you could have participants discuss what they think in a private online chat room, or you could use an instant messaging program for the same purpose.

Make sure they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas with each other before starting the main agenda.

The bottom line? The more connected the group is prior to the meeting, the more effective the meeting will be.

3. Set clear expectations

Once you know what you want out of the meeting, the next step is to communicate any expectations of participants, such as things they should prepare in advance of the meeting.

Here are some useful guidelines to keep in mind when you’re setting expectations:

  • Provide details: The more detail you provide, the clearer it will be as to what’s required.
  • Assign roles: Make sure everyone knows their role and responsibilities within the meeting audience.
  • Use timelines: Use timelines to remind everyone of what needs to be completed before the meeting and send reminders if necessary.
  • Communicate effectively : Encourage participants to talk with their teams about the fact strategy planning is happening. They may want to set up smaller meetings to gather input for the strategy planning workshop or to share the outputs after the meeting to give employees a chance to ask questions.

4. Set ground rules for behavior

Before the meeting starts, make sure everyone knows the rules.

Values, culture, and norms

This is especially important when working with external stakeholders.

For example, you might say something like:

“The goal of this meeting is to develop the strategic plan for the next quarter. We want to minimize distractions, so please don’t check your phone during the meeting.”

Another good idea is to let participants know how they’ll be evaluated. For example, if you’re trying to make progress on a project, you might say something like:

“Let’s try and reach a consensus on the first three points. If we can do that, we’ll consider the meeting a success.”

If you’re dealing with a remote or hybrid team, you should take the time to define online behavior standards. For instance, you could say something like:

“If you have a question, please type it in the chat window. Using outside chat programs is not permitted during the meeting.”

This way, you’ll have everyone invested in the outcome.

5. Identify potential challenges

Before the meeting starts, it’s always good to identify potential areas of conflict that might derail the process.

For example, what would happen if someone had to leave halfway through? Will the meeting continue without them, or will you reconvene once they’re back?

You should also consider how to handle difficult participants. Can you remove a difficult participant from the meeting before they hijack all of your time?

What happens if a disagreement comes up and it’s not resolved?

You should prepare for all these things in advance and have a plan ready if they do happen. For example, consider using a countdown timer for specific agenda items or presentations, so that time is allocated fairly.

Interactive whiteboard with linked agenda and countdown timer shown

If you identify potential challenges early on, you can keep an eye out for them as the meeting proceeds.

6. Encourage full participation

Remember that you’re asking people to spend time — and sometimes travel — to participate in your meeting.

It’s essential that everyone feels like they have the opportunity to participate. The best way to do this is by mentioning at the beginning of the meeting that you’d like everyone’s input throughout.

Make sure to keep an eye out for people who aren’t speaking up. If it seems like they may have something to contribute, ask them for their thoughts on the topic.

Also, make sure everyone knows that participation is critical. If you need to take a vote on something, remind people what the vote is about and why it matters.

Finally, make sure you’re speaking in terms that everyone in the room can understand. If there are people who are new to the organization, spend a moment explaining any acronyms you use.

This will allow everyone to feel like they can give their input with ease, leading to a more successful meeting.

7. Use visuals and brainstorming tools to communicate ideas

Having everyone on the same page is critical, even if they can’t be in the same room.

Here’s where visuals and collaboration platforms come in handy.

Using collaborative tools, like our brainstorming templates helps you organize work and removes some of the stress of coming up with ideas on the spot.

It also encourages people to provide input and makes them feel like they have a stake in the outcome.

For instance, you can use Miro’s Reverse Brainstorming template to come up with innovative ideas and display them in real time. You can save the meeting content on the board too, so you can send it to participants after the meeting.

Miro's Reverse Brainstorming template screenshot

This can be especially useful if you have multiple participants in different locations involved at the same time. They may not be able to physically attend the meeting, but they can still provide valuable input.

Also, we provide you with a fully customizable strategic plan template .

Miro's strategic plan template screenshot

You can adapt this template to fit your exact business needs and standardize your meetings with ease.

  • Sample agenda for a strategic planning meeting

You need to make sure your strategic planning meeting agenda is detailed and thorough enough to keep you on task.

Start with an overview of what you’ll be discussing, then move into individual department updates. This is where you highlight progress against targets.

Finally, spend some time outlining your organizational goals moving forward and, of course, always leave time for questions.

To help you better understand what a strategy planning session might look like in the real world, here’s a sample agenda:

  • 10am–11am: Welcome and meeting goals
  • 11am–12pm: Leadership team updates
  • 12pm–1pm: Department updates
  • 1pm–2pm: Lunch break
  • 2pm–3pm: Analyze challenges and problems
  • 3pm–4pm: Ideate solutions
  • 4pm–5pm: Discuss and gain consensus on solutions and goals
  • 5pm–6pm: Assign tasks and responsibilities for strategy execution
  • 6pm–7pm: Q&A
  • It all comes down to solid preparation and visuals

The best way to ensure your meeting runs smoothly and effectively is to prepare it with anticipation. By creating a clear agenda, you’re able to get the most out of your session.

Also, the use of visuals and brainstorming tools helps you collaborate with your team and communicate your critical points more effectively.

You can hold your planning meetings in a more visual way by creating a board and sharing with your team.

Also, you can use the strategic planning meeting template to get started with fewer headaches.

Want an action-oriented framework to help your team continuously improve?

Try the strategic planning template, miro is your team's visual platform to connect, collaborate, and create — together..

Join millions of users that collaborate from all over the planet using Miro.

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Ten Tips for Conducting a Successful Strategic Planning Session

By Strategy Consultant Shane Capper

The art of strategic planning can be thought of as a delicate mix of science and creativity , designed to harness opportunities and leapfrog our competitors. Sounds good in theory, but when it comes to running strategic planning sessions, outputs often fall short of expectations. The truth is, we often miss the collaboration necessary to design truly visionary plans.

Blog Call to Action image with title "Start Building Your Strategic Plan Today with Jibility Tool".

To overcome this, our team use a structured workshop approach based on a proven methodology rooted in capability-based planning . Regardless of your chosen methodology for strategic planning, our extensive experience conducting strategic planning sessions has taught us these ten keys to success.

Don’t teach the methodology

Don’t be afraid to use a strawman or two, worked examples, don’t debate what capabilities are and are not, use business sponsors, reinforce the iterative approach, set expectations at the start of each session, know when to use a digital approach and when to use a whiteboard, use a war-room (digital or physical).

  Once you conduct your first few sessions, your abilities will mature, and strategic stakeholders will feel the confidence necessary to be successful. The secret sauce for all of this is to start with creating an inspiring future vision, which is luckily one of the easier workshops to run. Such a vision will then kickstart the workshop series and hopefully enable the creation of a beautiful strategic plan.

How to conduct a strategic planning session

Our strategic planning methodology

Our team have run many strategic planning workshops following Jibility’s six-step methodology . With its roots in capability-based planning, Jibility helps your organization gain consensus on where the capability gaps are, and what needs to change in order for the strategic vision to be executed. Try Jibility for free!

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How to hold effective strategic planning meetings

A photo of people working together around a desk in an office

Holding a strategic planning meeting is a critical step in setting the goals and direction of a team, company, or organization. It is important to plan ahead and make sure that all stakeholders are included in this process.

In this post, we’ll go over the basics of how to facilitate a successful strategic planning meeting, including resources to help you brainstorm, collect and organize feedback and get alignment on action items:

What is strategic planning?

How to facilitate a strategic planning meeting.

  • Strategic planning session checklist

Templates for your next strategic planning workshop

Once the agenda, participants, ideas, and outcomes have been established and documented, it is important to review and follow up on the established goals. This can be done through regular meetings, as well as through tracking progress and to ensure that you're achieving your desired outcomes.

Strategic planning is a process that helps an organization or company to set goals, develop strategies, and allocate resources to achieve those goals. It involves setting objectives, determining actions, and evaluating the progress of those actions. Often, these categories can be broken down into 5 concrete steps:

  • Define your vision
  • Assess where you are
  • Determine your priorities and objectives
  • Define responsibilities
  • Measure and evaluate results

Learn more about each of the above steps in our post on the 5 steps of the strategic planning process .

Strategic planning allows an organization to develop a shared vision for the future and create a roadmap for how to get there. In short, it’s a vital tool for all organizations, whether large or small.

When running a strategic planning meeting, it is important to set an agenda , identify the participants, and ensure that everyone is on the same page about the goals and objectives of the meeting.

Next, run an icebreaker or warmup to get everyone engaged and your ideas flowing — this also helps to ensure that everyone in attendance has a chance to contribute their ideas and perspectives.

Related: Psychological safety: a critical element for imagination work

Once your participants are warmed up and ready to go, it’s time to get into the heart of the meeting. Here again, the goals and objectives determine the best path when facilitating your meeting:

  • Brainstorming : Is it a brainstorming session to help determine project goals and OKRs ? If so, what kind of brainstorming approach best fits your topic? For example, it can be useful to start from a template like a vision board when at the outset of a new project.
  • Understanding : If you’re looking to drive better cross-functional understanding , use a template like a stakeholder map to see where roles and priorities may overlap, and what working relationships need to be established.
  • Evaluating : If you’re in the middle of a project, using a built to help you evaluate your workflows and find ways to improve can ensure that you’re well positioned to deliver on your objectives.
  • Empathizing : Are you trying to better empathize with a customer, or look for weak points in a user journey? Using a template for empathy and discovery can be the best way to frame your discussion.

Finally, it is essential to ensure that the outcomes of the meeting are documented and followed up on. With careful planning and preparation, a strategic planning meeting can be a valuable tool for setting the direction of any organization.

Strategic planning meeting checklist:

1. Set an agenda for the strategic planning meeting ‍

It is important to set an agenda for the strategic planning meeting to ensure that there is a shared understanding of the goals and objectives of the meeting.

2. Make sure participants are on the same page about the goals and objectives of the meeting ‍

Plan to take a few minutes to get alignment with meeting participants at the outset of a meeting to ensure that everyone is aligned and understands the goals and objectives of the meeting.

3. Begin by going over the agenda and including an icebreaker or warmup exercise

Beginning a meeting with an icebreaker helps to ensure that everyone is engaged and ready to contribute their ideas and perspectives.

4. Set expectations and ground rules

It is important to establish meeting ground rules in order to create an environment of respect and psychological safety, where everyone feels comfortable to contribute their ideas and perspectives.

5. Ensure everyone in attendance has a chance to contribute their ideas and perspectives

Make sure to have a diverse set of ideas and voices participating in your meeting in order to ensure that all perspectives and solutions are taken into consideration.

6. Document the outcomes of the meeting and follow up on them

Having a process for documenting meeting outcomes and following up on any action items is essential for ensuring that your strategic planning meeting is impactful.

When conducting pre-work for your next strategic planning meeting, templates can greatly speed the process of building out your frameworks (as well as helpful in ensuring that you’ve got all the bases covered).

Create a strategy blueprint

An image of the Mural strategy blueprint template

The Mural strategy blueprint template is an invaluable tool, crafted to help you brainstorm and analyze six core elements of your strategy. By using this template, you can effectively address your challenges and develop ideas to reach your desired outcome, while exploring your options and trying different alternatives.

It provides a perfect platform to explore multiple solutions, enabling you to pick the one that best suits your needs, while still enabling you to be creative in finding viable solutions. The template offers you an opportunity to think outside the box and develop innovative ideas to tackle your strategy’s most pressing issues. Ultimately, this template allows you to take control of your strategy and create a blueprint for success.

Conduct a SWOT analysis

An image of the Mural SWOT analysis template

When assessing where you stand, a SWOT analysis is a great format to brainstorm with your team.

A SWOT analysis is an important exercise where you can evaluate your current situation and better understand the potential opportunities and threats that may arise. It requires you to carefully analyze the internal and external environment in which your initiative or product exists.

  • When engaging in a SWOT analysis, you must identify your strengths — what are your unique strengths for this particular initiative or product? In what ways are you a leader? Additionally, you must identify any weaknesses — what weaknesses can you identify in your offering? How does your product compare to others in the marketplace?
  • It is also important to identify any opportunities — are there areas for improvement that would help differentiate your business? Finally, you must consider any potential threats — beyond weaknesses, are there existing or potential threats to your initiative that could limit or prevent its success? How can those be anticipated?

By engaging in a thorough and thoughtful SWOT analysis, you can gain valuable insight into the potential success of your initiative or product and be better prepared to respond to any obstacles that may arise.

It’s time for kickoff!

tips for strategic planning session

To realize your vision, prioritize and outline specific objectives to achieve your goals. Once you have defined your vision and assessed your current situation, you can begin outlining and ranking your priorities and the objectives associated with them.

Use the Mural project kickoff template to capture everything up front, and give you an easy, shared reference point to return to as you analyze outcomes.

Strategic planning is a process that helps an organization or company to set goals, develop strategies, and allocate resources to achieve those goals. It involves setting objectives, determining actions, and evaluating the progress of those actions.

This post outlines the basics of how to facilitate a successful strategic planning meeting, including resources to help you brainstorm, collect and organize feedback, and get alignment on action items. But

Get started today with a Mural Free Forever account , and use any of our hundreds of (free and editable) templates to make your next strategic planning meeting more engaging and impactful.

About the authors

Bryan Kitch

Bryan Kitch

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How to Facilitate a Strategic Planning Session

As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Similarly, a solid strategic plan doesn’t just happen. It requires data-driven thought processes, synchronization among all those involved, and effective review. The best way to hash it all out is with a strategic planning session.

What is strategic planning?

Your strategic plan defines your goals and how you will achieve them. Strategic plans build resilient teams and create opportunities for innovation, keeping everyone in sync with the company’s desired vision, values, and purpose.

Many companies conduct strategic planning sessions, but not all get them right. We’ll share more about how to facilitate a great strategic planning session. First, it helps to understand the bigger picture.

DOWNLOAD THE GUIDE TO STRATEGIC PLANNING

What goes in a strategic plan?

A strategic plan may vary depending on the organization. Generally, you want start with a high-level overview that focuses on company attributes. It should also reflect forward-thinking information such as your unique vision, mission, and desired future value propositions. You can then use this plan as a guide for breaking down your initiatives into actionable steps.

Generally, your high-level strategic plan will include:

Company Overview —This section includes information about historic milestones and achievements, products and services, market outlooks, core competencies, financials, sales statistics for recent years, and current high-level key performance indicators (KPIs).

Strategic Analysis —This is a detailed analysis of internal and external environments. The intent is to understand the business context of what’s happening within the company and what’s happening in regard to external factors. There are a number of things that are considered:

  • Current vision, values, and company mission
  • Departmental challenges
  • Analysis of external factors using a PESTEL analysis chart (PESTEL is an acronym for political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal).
  • Competitive analysis
  • 7-S analysis, (This involves an analysis of skills, style, strategy, staff, structure, systems and shared value)
  • Market growth/share matrix

SWOT Analysis —SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats)

Strategic Objectives —These are statements about what’s critical for the strategy. The strategic objectives connect to the measures and activities the company will take.

Vision Statement —Describes where the business will be in 5-10 years time.

Mission and Core Values Statements —Describes what the company hopes to achieve in the future.

Future Business Model —This section is about how the company will do business. Think about how the organization creates, delivers, provides value, and engages in business. It considers social, economic and other contexts.

Future Value Proposition —Thinking from the future state a company considers why their customer chooses them, their products and services.

High-Level Goals —Identify high-level goals that link to the strategic objectives, and detail the projects that support reaching the goals.

Action Plan —This section includes manpower, timelines, KPIs, and progress tracking. Once you’ve built your high-level strategic plan, the next step is to break it down into smaller, more specific bites that help define which goals are most important, and which steps need to happen to achieve them. This is where annual and quarterly planning sessions come in.

Preparing for your quarterly planning session

The first thing to know is that the purpose of an annual or quarterly planning session is not to redo your high-level strategic plan. Rather, it’s to use that plan as a guide for your more frequent sessions to help ensure that shorter-term goals and initiatives are reflective of the information in your high-level plan.

Leaders will often enlist help from an external business specialist or coach to help facilitate a structured planning session. Meeting on a regular basis provides more frequent review opportunities and allows teams to pivot as needed. They are the hands-on team working on the day-to-day activities in accordance with the strategic plan.

There are a few things to consider when facilitating the strategic planning session. First, you’ll need to work out the logistics. Consider the following:

Schedule it —Choose the date and book it.

Select the facilitator —The facilitator is the person who creates the agenda, prepares the material (any slides, visuals), arrives early, sets up, and checks to make sure any technology is working. They also open the discussions to keep everyone on schedule and focused on the right topics. If the facilitator is someone on the team, it’s key to pause and remember to get their input as well.

Select a location — It’s common for strategic planning sessions to be held off-site. This limits distractions that may come from daily operations. Being off-site improves focus. It’s important to select a location that has the setup required.

Choose a meeting coordinator — The meeting coordinator will handle the logistics of the meeting. Any location bookings, equipment rentals, and travel requirements will go through the meeting coordinator. This person is very detailed and creates a seamless meeting while working behind the scenes before and during the meeting.

Material Prep — The CEO and facilitator will create the agenda and prepare the materials. The agenda is based on the parts of the strategic plan. It’s important to understand the boundaries of time and be realistic about just how much the group will get done.

Communicate — Meeting details and agenda should be communicated ahead of time. The goal is to get everyone thinking strategically and when they see the outline for the strategic planning session, their creative mind engages ahead of time. Remember, strategic planning sessions involve thinking big, creative ideas.

Clarifying goals & expected deliverables

A strategic planning session creates an atmosphere for open and honest communication. The goal of the session is to get real about where things are at, inspire a future vision, identify the gaps, and develop a plan to get there.

The clearer the facilitator is about the goal and purpose of the meeting, the clearer participants are throughout. Things may get off track but a clear goal and defined purpose are easy to come back to.

Selecting the appropriate team member for each task provides accountability . When individual roles and responsibilities are defined, team members are more productive and it’s easier to stay focused. It also helps eliminate mishaps in miscommunication is every team member knows who is responsible for which target.

Using software to run your strategic planning session

The challenge lies in creating a plan that is realistic and achievable, and then getting your team to buy into it and follow through on the actions. Many businesses turn to software tools to help them with this process. SaaS tools can provide a “virtual boardroom” where stakeholders from all over the company can come together to create or improve the plan. They can also help you connect the long-term goals to the everyday actions of your team.

Goal management software like Align provides a space to store and update your plans. It also provides team meeting tools to help facilitate the session. You can essentially run your planning session right out of Align, having swift access to priorities, targets, KPIs, and all other critical documentation.

Learn how Align can help you create or improve your strategic plan and connect the long-term goals to the everyday actions of your team.

Discover the Power of Align: Book A Free No Obligation Personalized Demo Today

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  • What is strategic planning? A 5-step gu ...

What is strategic planning? A 5-step guide

Julia Martins contributor headshot

Strategic planning is a process through which business leaders map out their vision for their organization’s growth and how they’re going to get there. In this article, we'll guide you through the strategic planning process, including why it's important, the benefits and best practices, and five steps to get you from beginning to end.

Strategic planning is a process through which business leaders map out their vision for their organization’s growth and how they’re going to get there. The strategic planning process informs your organization’s decisions, growth, and goals.

Strategic planning helps you clearly define your company’s long-term objectives—and maps how your short-term goals and work will help you achieve them. This, in turn, gives you a clear sense of where your organization is going and allows you to ensure your teams are working on projects that make the most impact. Think of it this way—if your goals and objectives are your destination on a map, your strategic plan is your navigation system.

In this article, we walk you through the 5-step strategic planning process and show you how to get started developing your own strategic plan.

How to build an organizational strategy

Get our free ebook and learn how to bridge the gap between mission, strategic goals, and work at your organization.

What is strategic planning?

Strategic planning is a business process that helps you define and share the direction your company will take in the next three to five years. During the strategic planning process, stakeholders review and define the organization’s mission and goals, conduct competitive assessments, and identify company goals and objectives. The product of the planning cycle is a strategic plan, which is shared throughout the company.

What is a strategic plan?

[inline illustration] Strategic plan elements (infographic)

A strategic plan is the end result of the strategic planning process. At its most basic, it’s a tool used to define your organization’s goals and what actions you’ll take to achieve them.

Typically, your strategic plan should include: 

Your company’s mission statement

Your organizational goals, including your long-term goals and short-term, yearly objectives

Any plan of action, tactics, or approaches you plan to take to meet those goals

What are the benefits of strategic planning?

Strategic planning can help with goal setting and decision-making by allowing you to map out how your company will move toward your organization’s vision and mission statements in the next three to five years. Let’s circle back to our map metaphor. If you think of your company trajectory as a line on a map, a strategic plan can help you better quantify how you’ll get from point A (where you are now) to point B (where you want to be in a few years).

When you create and share a clear strategic plan with your team, you can:

Build a strong organizational culture by clearly defining and aligning on your organization’s mission, vision, and goals.

Align everyone around a shared purpose and ensure all departments and teams are working toward a common objective.

Proactively set objectives to help you get where you want to go and achieve desired outcomes.

Promote a long-term vision for your company rather than focusing primarily on short-term gains.

Ensure resources are allocated around the most high-impact priorities.

Define long-term goals and set shorter-term goals to support them.

Assess your current situation and identify any opportunities—or threats—allowing your organization to mitigate potential risks.

Create a proactive business culture that enables your organization to respond more swiftly to emerging market changes and opportunities.

What are the 5 steps in strategic planning?

The strategic planning process involves a structured methodology that guides the organization from vision to implementation. The strategic planning process starts with assembling a small, dedicated team of key strategic planners—typically five to 10 members—who will form the strategic planning, or management, committee. This team is responsible for gathering crucial information, guiding the development of the plan, and overseeing strategy execution.

Once you’ve established your management committee, you can get to work on the planning process. 

Step 1: Assess your current business strategy and business environment

Before you can define where you’re going, you first need to define where you are. Understanding the external environment, including market trends and competitive landscape, is crucial in the initial assessment phase of strategic planning.

To do this, your management committee should collect a variety of information from additional stakeholders, like employees and customers. In particular, plan to gather:

Relevant industry and market data to inform any market opportunities, as well as any potential upcoming threats in the near future.

Customer insights to understand what your customers want from your company—like product improvements or additional services.

Employee feedback that needs to be addressed—whether about the product, business practices, or the day-to-day company culture.

Consider different types of strategic planning tools and analytical techniques to gather this information, such as:

A balanced scorecard to help you evaluate four major elements of a business: learning and growth, business processes, customer satisfaction, and financial performance.

A SWOT analysis to help you assess both current and future potential for the business (you’ll return to this analysis periodically during the strategic planning process). 

To fill out each letter in the SWOT acronym, your management committee will answer a series of questions:

What does your organization currently do well?

What separates you from your competitors?

What are your most valuable internal resources?

What tangible assets do you have?

What is your biggest strength? 

Weaknesses:

What does your organization do poorly?

What do you currently lack (whether that’s a product, resource, or process)?

What do your competitors do better than you?

What, if any, limitations are holding your organization back?

What processes or products need improvement? 

Opportunities:

What opportunities does your organization have?

How can you leverage your unique company strengths?

Are there any trends that you can take advantage of?

How can you capitalize on marketing or press opportunities?

Is there an emerging need for your product or service? 

What emerging competitors should you keep an eye on?

Are there any weaknesses that expose your organization to risk?

Have you or could you experience negative press that could reduce market share?

Is there a chance of changing customer attitudes towards your company? 

Step 2: Identify your company’s goals and objectives

To begin strategy development, take into account your current position, which is where you are now. Then, draw inspiration from your vision, mission, and current position to identify and define your goals—these are your final destination. 

To develop your strategy, you’re essentially pulling out your compass and asking, “Where are we going next?” “What’s the ideal future state of this company?” This can help you figure out which path you need to take to get there.

During this phase of the planning process, take inspiration from important company documents, such as:

Your mission statement, to understand how you can continue moving towards your organization’s core purpose.

Your vision statement, to clarify how your strategic plan fits into your long-term vision.

Your company values, to guide you towards what matters most towards your company.

Your competitive advantages, to understand what unique benefit you offer to the market.

Your long-term goals, to track where you want to be in five or 10 years.

Your financial forecast and projection, to understand where you expect your financials to be in the next three years, what your expected cash flow is, and what new opportunities you will likely be able to invest in.

Step 3: Develop your strategic plan and determine performance metrics

Now that you understand where you are and where you want to go, it’s time to put pen to paper. Take your current business position and strategy into account, as well as your organization’s goals and objectives, and build out a strategic plan for the next three to five years. Keep in mind that even though you’re creating a long-term plan, parts of your plan should be created or revisited as the quarters and years go on.

As you build your strategic plan, you should define:

Company priorities for the next three to five years, based on your SWOT analysis and strategy.

Yearly objectives for the first year. You don’t need to define your objectives for every year of the strategic plan. As the years go on, create new yearly objectives that connect back to your overall strategic goals . 

Related key results and KPIs. Some of these should be set by the management committee, and some should be set by specific teams that are closer to the work. Make sure your key results and KPIs are measurable and actionable. These KPIs will help you track progress and ensure you’re moving in the right direction.

Budget for the next year or few years. This should be based on your financial forecast as well as your direction. Do you need to spend aggressively to develop your product? Build your team? Make a dent with marketing? Clarify your most important initiatives and how you’ll budget for those.

A high-level project roadmap . A project roadmap is a tool in project management that helps you visualize the timeline of a complex initiative, but you can also create a very high-level project roadmap for your strategic plan. Outline what you expect to be working on in certain quarters or years to make the plan more actionable and understandable.

Step 4: Implement and share your plan

Now it’s time to put your plan into action. Strategy implementation involves clear communication across your entire organization to make sure everyone knows their responsibilities and how to measure the plan’s success. 

Make sure your team (especially senior leadership) has access to the strategic plan, so they can understand how their work contributes to company priorities and the overall strategy map. We recommend sharing your plan in the same tool you use to manage and track work, so you can more easily connect high-level objectives to daily work. If you don’t already, consider using a work management platform .  

A few tips to make sure your plan will be executed without a hitch: 

Communicate clearly to your entire organization throughout the implementation process, to ensure all team members understand the strategic plan and how to implement it effectively. 

Define what “success” looks like by mapping your strategic plan to key performance indicators.

Ensure that the actions outlined in the strategic plan are integrated into the daily operations of the organization, so that every team member's daily activities are aligned with the broader strategic objectives.

Utilize tools and software—like a work management platform—that can aid in implementing and tracking the progress of your plan.

Regularly monitor and share the progress of the strategic plan with the entire organization, to keep everyone informed and reinforce the importance of the plan.

Establish regular check-ins to monitor the progress of your strategic plan and make adjustments as needed. 

Step 5: Revise and restructure as needed

Once you’ve created and implemented your new strategic framework, the final step of the planning process is to monitor and manage your plan.

Remember, your strategic plan isn’t set in stone. You’ll need to revisit and update the plan if your company changes directions or makes new investments. As new market opportunities and threats come up, you’ll likely want to tweak your strategic plan. Make sure to review your plan regularly—meaning quarterly and annually—to ensure it’s still aligned with your organization’s vision and goals.

Keep in mind that your plan won’t last forever, even if you do update it frequently. A successful strategic plan evolves with your company’s long-term goals. When you’ve achieved most of your strategic goals, or if your strategy has evolved significantly since you first made your plan, it might be time to create a new one.

Build a smarter strategic plan with a work management platform

To turn your company strategy into a plan—and ultimately, impact—make sure you’re proactively connecting company objectives to daily work. When you can clarify this connection, you’re giving your team members the context they need to get their best work done. 

A work management platform plays a pivotal role in this process. It acts as a central hub for your strategic plan, ensuring that every task and project is directly tied to your broader company goals. This alignment is crucial for visibility and coordination, allowing team members to see how their individual efforts contribute to the company’s success. 

By leveraging such a platform, you not only streamline workflow and enhance team productivity but also align every action with your strategic objectives—allowing teams to drive greater impact and helping your company move toward goals more effectively. 

Strategic planning FAQs

Still have questions about strategic planning? We have answers.

Why do I need a strategic plan?

A strategic plan is one of many tools you can use to plan and hit your goals. It helps map out strategic objectives and growth metrics that will help your company be successful.

When should I create a strategic plan?

You should aim to create a strategic plan every three to five years, depending on your organization’s growth speed.

Since the point of a strategic plan is to map out your long-term goals and how you’ll get there, you should create a strategic plan when you’ve met most or all of them. You should also create a strategic plan any time you’re going to make a large pivot in your organization’s mission or enter new markets. 

What is a strategic planning template?

A strategic planning template is a tool organizations can use to map out their strategic plan and track progress. Typically, a strategic planning template houses all the components needed to build out a strategic plan, including your company’s vision and mission statements, information from any competitive analyses or SWOT assessments, and relevant KPIs.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. business plan?

A business plan can help you document your strategy as you’re getting started so every team member is on the same page about your core business priorities and goals. This tool can help you document and share your strategy with key investors or stakeholders as you get your business up and running.

You should create a business plan when you’re: 

Just starting your business

Significantly restructuring your business

If your business is already established, you should create a strategic plan instead of a business plan. Even if you’re working at a relatively young company, your strategic plan can build on your business plan to help you move in the right direction. During the strategic planning process, you’ll draw from a lot of the fundamental business elements you built early on to establish your strategy for the next three to five years.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. mission and vision statements?

Your strategic plan, mission statement, and vision statements are all closely connected. In fact, during the strategic planning process, you will take inspiration from your mission and vision statements in order to build out your strategic plan.

Simply put: 

A mission statement summarizes your company’s purpose.

A vision statement broadly explains how you’ll reach your company’s purpose.

A strategic plan pulls in inspiration from your mission and vision statements and outlines what actions you’re going to take to move in the right direction. 

For example, if your company produces pet safety equipment, here’s how your mission statement, vision statement, and strategic plan might shake out:

Mission statement: “To ensure the safety of the world’s animals.” 

Vision statement: “To create pet safety and tracking products that are effortless to use.” 

Your strategic plan would outline the steps you’re going to take in the next few years to bring your company closer to your mission and vision. For example, you develop a new pet tracking smart collar or improve the microchipping experience for pet owners. 

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. company objectives?

Company objectives are broad goals. You should set these on a yearly or quarterly basis (if your organization moves quickly). These objectives give your team a clear sense of what you intend to accomplish for a set period of time. 

Your strategic plan is more forward-thinking than your company goals, and it should cover more than one year of work. Think of it this way: your company objectives will move the needle towards your overall strategy—but your strategic plan should be bigger than company objectives because it spans multiple years.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. a business case?

A business case is a document to help you pitch a significant investment or initiative for your company. When you create a business case, you’re outlining why this investment is a good idea, and how this large-scale project will positively impact the business. 

You might end up building business cases for things on your strategic plan’s roadmap—but your strategic plan should be bigger than that. This tool should encompass multiple years of your roadmap, across your entire company—not just one initiative.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. a project plan?

A strategic plan is a company-wide, multi-year plan of what you want to accomplish in the next three to five years and how you plan to accomplish that. A project plan, on the other hand, outlines how you’re going to accomplish a specific project. This project could be one of many initiatives that contribute to a specific company objective which, in turn, is one of many objectives that contribute to your strategic plan. 

What’s the difference between strategic management vs. strategic planning?

A strategic plan is a tool to define where your organization wants to go and what actions you need to take to achieve those goals. Strategic planning is the process of creating a plan in order to hit your strategic objectives.

Strategic management includes the strategic planning process, but also goes beyond it. In addition to planning how you will achieve your big-picture goals, strategic management also helps you organize your resources and figure out the best action plans for success. 

Related resources

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The beginner’s guide to business process management (BPM)

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Project portfolio management 101

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Marketing campaign management: 7 steps for success

Competitive Intelligence Alliance

How to facilitate a strategic planning session (in 9 easy steps)

Alex Walton

Alex Walton

What is strategic planning.

Strategic planning is the process of figuring out (i) where you want to go as an org, and (ii) how to get there. All while fielding the challenges and obstacles that could prevent you from getting to your destination.

Think about it this way: When you get on board a plane, you expect your pilot to have some idea of

  • How to operate the plane,
  • The destination, and
  • How to get to that destination, right?

Now imagine your organization is that plane. Are you flying blind?

tips for strategic planning session

A solid strategic plan ensures you’re not.

The elements of a strategic plan

For businesses, this means knowing the:

  • Internal state of the business;
  • The external state of the industry, or competitive environment;
  • Your goals and aspirations for the future.

Knowing these three things gives you all the ingredients you need to cook up a roadmap for future success. You know where you are now, where you want to get to, and what the terrain you’ll be navigating over the next few years looks like.

What is a strategic planning session?

A strategic planning session is a meeting where members from across the business share ideas and formulate a strategic plan for the next few years. Three-to-five year plans are typical, and meetings usually last anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on the size of the business.

A strategic planning session typically has multiple goals , including:

  • For leaders to share their vision of the future.
  • To share knowledge from across the organization.
  • To establish clear and measurable goals and milestones along the way to achieving the leaders’ vision.
  • To explore possible threats to achieving that vision.
  • To assess the success of past and existing plans, and to pivot, change, or adapt those plans as needed.
  • To develop a solid, but flexible*, plan for the future.

The importance of flexibility:

*This is important. Your plan should be flexible, but not casually so.

A strategic plan should be well-thought-out; planned carefully; only deviated from under special circumstances.

That said, no one is blessed with the power of foresight. As things change, you want your plan to be adaptable, so it’s still useful as late as year three.

The benefits of holding a strategic planning session

Here are some of the benefits strategic planning meetings offer:

  • Gather feedback from across your organization.
  • Set long-term goals.
  • Define your route to success.
  • Develop resilience to change and market disruption.
  • Increase internal cohesion.

1 - Gather feedback from across your org

It’s difficult for staff members to feel happy if they don’t feel heard. Your strategic planning sessions give you a chance to bring together diverse perspectives from different departments.

Not only does this keep staff happy, it actually makes for a more effective planning session. Without diverse representation, you risk creating an echo chamber. If there’s a time for hard truths to be heard, for unfamiliar thoughts to be voiced, or for unpopular opinions to be raised, it’s now.

2 - Set long-term goals

Strategic planning meetings are the time to set long-term goals for your business. You can set medium-term goals too, though these usually manifest as milestones on the way to achieving your longer term goals.

The point is to establish where you want to end up as an org in a few years’ time. While no one wants to go backward, this is the time to think strategically. And sometimes a step backward is needed to make way for future progress.

Stepping back to step forward:

For example, some businesses might have no choice but to downsize in the short-term if they’re to survive in the long-term. Others might need to take steps to slow expansion so they can ensure they scale sustainably into the future.

The long term goals you set in your strategic planning meetings should take into account:

  • The current state of your organization;
  • The state of the economy;
  • The state of your industry;

… and they should give you a solid set of motivational goals to work toward. 

Strategic planning sessions offer the perfect opportunity to work on these important goals as a team and as a business.

3 - Define your route to success

Knowing where you want to end up is only half the battle. The real effort is in defining how you’ll get there.

Creating a roadmap for success is perhaps the largest task you’ll take on in your strategic planning session. Your roadmap is the practical template for how you’ll move from where you are to where you want to go. It needs to be practical, achievable, and realistic while making room for inevitable disruption.

Roadmap considerations:

Your roadmap should take into account, as much as possible, your existing resources, and the trend they’re moving in.

If you’re actively hiring and growing rapidly, you may well have more resources in one and two years from now with which to achieve your goals.

tips for strategic planning session

If you’re in a difficult spot in an economic downturn, might you need to make some difficult decisions and initiate some layoffs? And, if so, how much is your productivity likely to fall as a result?

These are the kinds of considerations that a truly competent business strategy will account for, and strategy sessions make it possible.

4 - Develop resilience to change and market disruption

One of the greatest benefits of developing a strategic plan is the resilience your org develops to market disruption.

As part of the planning process, you’ll analyze potential threats in your competitive environment, as well as developing market trends, and brainstorm ways these could impact your org’s ability to reach its goals.

When you take the time to look ahead and account for such threats in your plan, you’ll be more prepared to weather the storm if and when they occur.

5 - Increased cohesion between teams

Bringing leaders and representatives together from across your business gives everyone a chance to get on the same page with your business’ overarching strategy. 

It also offers folks the opportunity to voice concerns about the plan, and work together on solutions. When everyone has had a hand in building the solution, everyone has skin in the game and an increased personal interest in the outcome of the plan as a whole.

Getting buy-in like this before the fact is a crucial step in later success when it comes to  rolling out your strategic plan .

Once your plan is complete, you’ll be free to disseminate it across your org and broadcast your collective vision for where you’re headed over the next few years.

tips for strategic planning session

Who to include in your strategic planning meeting

So, who should you include in your meeting?

• Business leaders and department heads

Business leaders and department heads are obvious choices. Department heads and leaders should, for the most part, be able to speak for their teams as a whole, and are well-placed to gather feedback from their teams ahead of your strategic session.

Members of the leadership team are necessary since they’ll be the ones with the final say on what gets implemented. But try to include at least one person from each relevant department for best representation.

• Less senior staff members

Leaders can’t be expected to know everything. Many organizations see success enlisting representatives in more junior positions as well.

Having representation from those with their boots on the ground, doing the job day in and day out, helps you avoid blind spots. Especially when it comes to analyzing the internal state of the business.

These people might be aware of problems their department heads are not.

Representation can take multiple forms:

What form you decide this representation should take is up to you. You can only invite so many people (as we’ll discuss later), so you might decide to just invite a member of middle management from some of your larger teams.

You can always oversee a process of gathering feedback from the most junior members of staff ahead of the meeting to ensure nothing is missed.

Whatever you choose, do your best to make sure your team represents a fair sample of folks from across the business, who’ll be able to contribute meaningfully to strategic discussions.

• A meeting facilitator

Your meeting facilitator leads the strategic planning session. They’re the one responsible for getting the desired outcome.

Your facilitator can be someone internal or external to the business, but it’s important you choose carefully, as there are pros and cons tied to each choice.

External facilitators:

  • May take longer to develop rapport and trust with the group.
  • Do this for a living (and should be pretty good).

Internal facilitators:

  • Can be hand-picked by you or a leader.
  • Might not be as skilled at running a session like this. 

Whichever you choose, remember that a lot rides on your strategy meeting being successful.

The cost of getting a bunch of business leaders together for a day, or even a few hours, is high. Coming out the other side without a usable plan is almost always a result of poor time management and focus within the meeting.

A strong facilitator won’t be able to completely eliminate the possibility of a meeting that’s less productive than hoped for, but they should be able to drastically diminish it.

• Strategy professionals

Representatives from your market and competitive intelligence teams are clear choices for attendance, too. They should be able to lead or help facilitate some  parts of the session, like the SWOT analysis.

Many intelligence pros will be able to comment on the state of your industry, developing trends, and how particular competitors are tackling particular problems.

Intel like this is gold dust for building a plan to overcome the challenges of your competitive environment.

Competitive roles are varied:

But competitive roles are varied, and can be structured in ways that don’t lend themselves so well to long-term strategic thinking. 

Depending on how you’ve structured the role, and who you’ve hired, you may or may not have someone with the skills and the knowledge to be of use in a session like this.

For example, your CI person might be excellent at enabling your sales team to beat two or three key competitors in hands-on deal support. But they might never have needed to bring themselves up to speed with industry trends in detail.

So, before you call on them, ask if they’re confident they can bring value to the table.

tips for strategic planning session

State of SWOT Report

Download your copy to learn...

  • The five top challenges you face performing SWOT, and how to solve them.
  • The best ways to measure success or failure post-SWOT.
  • Whether SWOT is falling out of favor in modern businesses.
  • The best alternative frameworks and how they compare with SWOT.
  • The future of SWOT analysis.

How to run a strategic planning meeting in 9 steps (best practices for success)

Ok. We know what a strategic planning session is, why you might want to run one, and who to invite. How do you actually facilitate one successfully?

Here’s a short list of the nine steps we think it takes to succeed at facilitating a strategic planning session:

  • Be prepared (do the advance work).
  • Define a meeting agenda.
  • Set expectations and ground rules.
  • Break the ice.
  • Get in sync on vision and long-term goals.
  • Do a SWOT analysis.
  • Identify the current state of your organization.
  • Identify external threats on your path to success.
  • Build the roadmap.

1 - Be prepared (do the advance work)

As with anything, facilitating a successful strategic planning session starts with the preparation.

This means a number of things:

  • Decide who gets an invite:  See the previous section for details, but it pays to have representation from across the business.
  • Limit the size of the group:  You want a good balance of diverse input and snappy decision-making. If the group is too large, you run the risk of a bloated session. 10 people is a good number to start with, but it might take a few tries to settle on a number that works for you. 
  • Gather feedback early:  Diversity of input is critical for success. But not everyone can be present at the meeting. Therefore, it’s important to gather feedback from all corners of the business early. You might wish to survey the entire business a month or two ahead of time. Or you might prefer to hold small brainstorming sessions in department meetings. This also gets stakeholders bought-in ahead of the meeting itself.
  • Share materials ahead of time:  All the usual meeting rules apply here. Supply attendees with pre-reading materials so they can bring themselves up to speed before the session starts. This way, you can hit the ground running. This can include the current strategic plan, and the results of any recent SWOT analyses, if you’re not going to do one during the session.
  • Have an agenda:  Again, usual meeting rules apply. When people know what to expect before they arrive, there’s less time spent preparing to begin when the clock has already begun counting down.

2 - Run through the agenda

When it comes to the meeting itself, it pays to fill everyone in on any essential info before you get going.

That means running through the agenda and any changes to it (you shared one beforehand, remember), as well as briefly summarizing critical elements of any pre-reading material.

This orients your attendees, serves as the springboard for the rest of the session, and calms everyone by letting them know what to expect.

3- Set expectations and ground rules

Speaking of getting everyone on the same page…

Facilitating a strategic planning session is no easy job.

There’s a careful balance to strike between making people feel comfortable enough to voice their opinions, concerns, and thoughts openly, and keeping the meeting moving.

You have to be productive. Especially if you’re short on time.

However, shut people down too aggressively in the interests of time, and you risk shutting them down for good, losing access to any insights they might have shared.

That’s why setting expectations, and reiterating those expectations, at intervals throughout the session is integral to its success.

Here are some topics for which you might want to set ground rules early:

• Time:

If you’re short on time, say so.

Make it clear that there’s a lot to get through, and you’ll be cutting people off if necessary.

Explain that it isn’t personal, and that everyone’s input is essential to the success of the session. But everyone’s time is valuable, so tangents, emotional venting, and other such unnecessary excursions aren’t allowed, and you’ll shut them down in the interest of preserving precious time.

• Radical transparency:

This is a concept championed by  Ray Dalio, Founder, Co-Chairman, and Co-Chief Investment Officer of Bridgewater Associates , the world’s largest hedge fund, and author of  Principles: Life and Work .

As we mentioned above, if there’s an issue, now is the time to shine a light on it. Not to play the blame game, but because without honesty about what’s not working in your org, it’ll be impossible to devise a business strategy that fixes the problems you inevitably have.

It’s crucial, too, that the most junior member of the group knows it’s acceptable, at least for this session, to challenge the most senior member of the group. 

This is essential if you’re to build the best plan possible, though may be less comfortable for some members of the panel.

• Everyone deserves a voice:

A point that bears repeating: the success of your session depends on the participation of all panel members.

Coax the quiet ones into speaking up, if they’re willing. Don’t let louder members of the group hold the floor for too long.

Do your best to offer everyone in the group the opportunity to speak equally. Not everyone will take it, but it’s important views are heard from across the business. Without diverse input, your final strategic plan will be vulnerable to avoidable blind spots and oversights.

So, early on, make it clear everyone’s views are welcome.

• But know when to break the rules:

If you’re short on time, you might have to make tactical exceptions to the above rule. While you should seek input from everyone, you must still strive to strike that delicate balance of thoroughness versus time.

If leaders have come to the meeting with certain decisions already made, and some points aren’t going to be up for discussion as a result, don’t waste time with them. Make this clear, and move on.

So remember: good ideas can come from anywhere. You don’t have to respect bad ideas, but you do have to respect that good ideas can come from junior people.

4 - Break the ice

Icebreaker? Yuck.

Sure, they might sound old-fashioned, but icebreakers are useful. Sawyer, Braz, and Babcock  led a study  into how icebreaker activities correlated with how strongly students reported liking their classmates, their instructor, and the course material itself.

Your strategic planning session will benefit if you can get past any initial awkwardness or resistance to contributing. Resistance is natural when people first come together to sit around a desk, but it’s not conducive to getting to an effective strategic plan.

Icebreaker goals:

That’s why, after establishing ground rules for behavior and setting an agenda, an icebreaker is a great next activity.

The icebreaker should set the stage for success by making everyone more comfortable with each other, and (crucially) with speaking up in front of each other. The process should humanize authority figures and leaders while validating more junior members.

tips for strategic planning session

5 - Get in sync on vision and long-term goals

With everyone comfortable and sharing ideas, it’s time to get in sync on the company vision.

This can come from a leader, but don’t neglect this being a collaborative process, at least in part.

Lean on your competitive leads:

Reps from your strategy and competitive intelligence teams can help out here, as they’ll be able to share insights into where the industry is going, and in which areas competitors seem to be investing.

Such data serves as helpful intel that can and should inform your strategy. Even if you decide the right path for your org is to turn away from what others are doing, this should be a conscious and informed decision.

Why alignment is important:

Getting in sync on your vision and goals at this stage gets everyone aligned on your end goals.

These long-term goals, since you’re defining them early, act as North stars, and inform the rest of the session. You’ll define more concrete goals (measurable, medium-term goals) as the session draws to a close.

6 - Do a SWOT analysis

With your end goals established, and with everyone in sync, it’s time to start planning how to achieve them.

But before you can do that, there are a couple of things you need to know:

  • The current state of your organization.
  • The state of your market and industry.

An accepted method for getting this information out in the open efficiently is a  strategic planning SWOT analysis .

In a SWOT analysis, you examine  four major elements : your organization’s internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as the external opportunities and threats the market presents you with.

Combine SWOT with other frameworks:

If you’ve the time, you can combine SWOT analysis with other frameworks, like PESTLE analysis, or Porter’s Five Forces analysis, that more closely examine external market factors and other external influences.

But assuming you don’t have the luxury of time, limitations like SWOT’s vulnerability to internal bias reemphasizes the importance of pulling together a diverse set of representatives from across the business for your strategic planning session.

A well-performed SWOT analysis gets you on the right track in terms of thinking about factors that might impact your org’s ability to achieve its goals.

It's not just frameworks, though. Get members from across the entire business involved with a business wargaming session to pressure test your plans before you roll them out.

tips for strategic planning session

7 - Identify the current state of your organization

Your SWOT analysis should unveil much about the internal state of your organization. Remembering the importance of  radical transparency,  by examining your org’s strengths and weaknesses you’ll have begun to reveal much about the current state of the business.

When you know where you are, as well as where you want to go, there’s just one more thing you need to know before you can start mapping out a plan on how to get there.

8 - Identify external threats on your path to success

As the final step before building your roadmap, examine the externals: the market in which you’re working.

Your SWOT analysis should have helped you out here, too. You should now be able to identify opportunities and threats in your competitive landscape that could help or hurt your chances of reaching your goals.

Start linking together your internal strengths with external opportunities to identify possible avenues of growth.

Do the same for threats and strengths, to identify where you might be less vulnerable than some of your competitors, or with weaknesses, to show you where you might want to stay alert and careful.

9 - Build the roadmap

Finally, it’s time for your cohort to chart the course.

By now, you should have facilitated the team spending a very productive few hours (or days) examining all aspects of your business, your market, and your goals from multiple angles, with diverse views and perspectives, offered by your session panel members.

You should now, as a group, be able to articulate the current state of the business, and agreed-upon goals for where you want to end up over the next few years.

Your roadmap is your plan for how you’ll get there. As you build it, remember to take into account possible threats and opportunities in the marketplace, as well as your internal strengths and weaknesses as a business.

To summarize, an effectively facilitated strategic planning session should deliver you the following:

  • Synchronicity on your org’s vision, and where you want to go. 🤝
  • A sense of the current state of the business. 🧘‍♂️
  • A sense of the external threats and opportunities presented by the market. 🔍
  • How you’ll use your org’s resources to tackle those threats and exploit those opportunities to reach your goals and achieve your vision. 🧲

With a successful strategy meeting behind you, and a roadmap in hand, all that’s left to do is share the results of your meeting with the business, and begin to  operationalize your strategic plan .

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Jeanne Reaves

5 Tips For A Successful Strategic Planning Session

Written by Jeanne Reaves

tips for strategic planning session

Perhaps you’ve heard the popular saying, “you need to spend more time on the business, rather than in the business?” This saying lends itself to strategic planning because an offsite strategic planning session is one of the most valuable ways to spend your time on your business. Dedicating a one or two day session to discuss the future, revaluating your vision and strategy, will only put you in a better position in the long run.

However, if you’ve ever participated in a strategic planning session, it’s not uncommon that following the retreat new ideas or conversations are quickly forgotten, (even with the best of intentions). So, if you’re planning to facilitate a strategic planning session, here are five tips to make sure it counts.

#1: Determine Your Game Plan

Before creating an agenda, or deciding who to invite, think about where you are right now as a business. Is your strategy currently working? What do you need this planning meeting to achieve? What’s your timeframe? Are there any limitations to consider that helps guide the discussion?

Once the objectives are in place, you can determine who from your team or board needs to be involved and help take ownership of the outcomes. It’s also a great idea to ask your leaders to share any ideas or feedback they’ve been considering before the retreat so they have time to prepare.

Finally, in order to maximize time, compile the data everyone needs to know and provide it the day before the retreat. This will help in both generating ideas and problem solving at the planning session.

#2: As A Leader Know Your Role

Rather than having all the answers, your role as the leader is to inform the facilitator so they can ask the right questions. Not only will this help inspire creative responses from your team, but it will also encourage a more open dialogue. We recommend having others on your team run specific parts of the agenda so you can contribute, but also not be in a position to command every conversation.

#3: Perform A SWOT Analysis

A strategy framework is a great tool to utilize to share where you currently stand as a business, and where you want to go. Using the SWOT analysis (Strengths and Weaknesses, which relate to internal factors, in addition to Opportunities and Threats, which relate to external factors) should be performed. This analysis will depict your internal strengths and weaknesses, and your external opportunities and threats. Through the SWOT analysis, goals and objectives are established.

#4: Determine Your Direction

Two things should emerge during your strategic planning session. First, a consensus on the direction you’re going to take for the year ahead. You can summarize this in just a couple of words, and it may have to do with your employees, policies and efficiencies, scalable growth and/or changes because of the marketplace. Once you have determined this, you can identify your priorities and make sure it supports the goals you have established. This process should lead you to achieve item number two: your initiatives, and if you have time determine who is responsible, how outcomes will be measured and a realistic timeframe. If you do not have time during the planning session, then this is a priority at your next leadership meeting.

#5: Conclude With Clarity and Purpose

At the conclusion of your strategic planning session, your board or leaders should be inspired by the direction you’ve set together. To ensure everyone is on the same page you can ask, “What has become more clear as a result from our time today?”

Keep your strategy to a single page and set a time to review. Ideally, we’d recommend you do this once a quarter. Think of your strategy document as a living, breathing thing. It’s important to utilize this tool and make changes when applicable.

In Conclusion

There are many moving parts to both preparing and executing a successful strategic planning session. Many companies, and several of our clients, have hired us as an external facilitator to execute strategic planning sessions on their behalf. This is one of our specialties , and we love what we do. Have a question for us, or perhaps you’re interested in our services? Contact us today!

tips for strategic planning session

By Jeanne Reaves At Jeanne Reaves Consulting, Jeanne specializes in coaching executives in a variety of industries. As a certified Personality Consultant, Jeanne employs technology and techniques to help her clients understand their executive teams’ unique abilities, maximize their productivity and manage them more effectively to enhance earnings.

The Complete Guide to Virtual Strategic Planning

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2020 is almost over (*audible sigh*).

Although it has not been very kind to us, it has taught businesses many lessons, the most important one being that the future is unpredictable, and you can’t be prepared enough.

Looking forward to  2021, the world we knew has changed, bringing with it a host of new challenges businesses must prepare for.  With the impact of COVID-19 on businesses expected to linger until at least the end of 2021 , the need for strategic planning has become more important than ever.

However, with most of the team – if not everyone – working from home, businesses have had to resort to virtual strategic planning.

Without the convenience of everyone in the same room to coordinate their effort, can strategic planning be done effectively online?  In this post, we are sharing some effective tips for conducting strategic planning sessions remotely, hoping it will help you carry out your meetings successfully.

Virtual Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is the process by which organizations determine their vision for the future and develop strategies to get there successfully. It involves:

  • Conducting a situational analysis to assess the current environment
  • Establishing the vision of what the organization want to become
  • Develop the action plans and strategies to get there

Our comprehensive guide to strategic planning covers the process step-by-step and provides useful techniques you can use to simplify the workflow.

While conducting a strategic planning session in-person is difficult enough, doing one online where participants have the option to turn off their cameras and mics, and continue on with any other tasks, is even more challenging.

Let’s see how you can do a virtual strategic planning meeting where participants are actually engaged and stay productive.

Planning the session

A strategic planning session requires the presence of the executives of the company, who often already have many other responsibilities on a daily basis. But their unwavering attention is essential to run a productive strategic planning session. Therefore, when scheduling your session, make sure that the participants have no other obligations they should attend to on the day/s selected.

  • Make sure all documents, reports, and access to the tools that will be used during the session are already shared with the participants prior to the meeting
  • Encourage the participants to join from a distraction-free space in their home
  • Have an agenda outlining the meeting activities; timebox each of them and stick to the time limits as much as you can

Help the team get into a strategic thinking mindset prior to the meeting by

  • Creating a neutral space devoid of reporting hierarchies where everyone’s contributions are equally acknowledged
  • Encourage participants to share their opinions and suggestions openly, and allow them to do so without interruptions or objections

Increase engagement via video conferencing tools

Video conferencing is the next best medium to in-person communication in a remote setting. Having the cameras turned on is a great way to ensure that everyone is paying attention and remains engaged.

Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Skype, and Slack are some of the most commonly used video conferencing and meeting platforms used by remote teams, and you can use them here to conduct your planning sessions as well.

Use a visual workspace to stimulate creative thinking

A whiteboard is an essential tool in an in-office strategic planning session. It’s where ideas shared are recorded, categorized, and prioritized. It helps stimulate and keep track of the conversations and streamline the planning session altogether.

Fortunately, you can use an online canvas like Creately to emulate this experience around your office whiteboard, even during a virtual strategic planning session.

Creately offers an infinite canvas with access to shape libraries over 50 types of diagrams and charts, along with real-time collaboration capabilities including in-app video conferencing, synchronous editing, comment discussion threads, real-time change previews, and mouse tracking.  With it, you and your team can

  • Share input on the same canvas, while talking with each other as you do so with in-app video chatting
  • Collaborate on brainstorming around ideas, analyzing them and prioritizing them  using simple tools like mind maps and affinity diagrams
  • Planning the work to be done along with assigning the responsible parties, and keep track of the progress made
  • Using one canvas (or one folder with all relevant strategic planning canvases) to plan and organize all things discussed during the planning sessions
  • Share the canvases with external stakeholders and collect their feedback in comment discussion-threads that you can resolve as you go through them
  • Export the data charts and diagrams (as PNGs, SVGs, PDFs, or JPEGs) you have worked on during the sessions so you can print, share, embed, or publish them

It also provides multiple scenario-based templates including several for strategic planning;

SWOT Analysis

During your situational analysis, you can use a SWOT analysis to examine the strengths, weaknesses, opprotunities and threats.

SWOT Analysis Template for Virtual Strategic Planning

Action Plan

Plan and organize steps or tasks you need to complete in order to achieve the strategic goals you have set with this action plan template.

Action Plan Template

Affinity Diagram

An affinity diagram can be used to organize data gathered from your brainstorming sessions, discussions, analysis and research during strategic planning.

Affinity Diagram Template for Virtual Strategic Planning

Strategic Planning Canvas

Streamline your virtual strategic planning process and communication around it by bringing all aspects of planning on to one canvas. The template below comprise of a SWOT analysis, process flow, strategy map, action plan and a timeline all on one canvas for easy access and management. Zoom in on the specific area as you work on it with the team.

Strategic Planning Canvas for Effective Team Communication

OGSM Template

OGSM stands for Objectives, Goals, Strategies, and Measures and it is a strategic planning model used to convert a company’s vision into an actionable business and marketing strategy. Learn more about how to use it with our resource here .

OGSM Template for Virtual Strategic Planning

You can use this Objectives and Key Results template to collaborate on setting and managing your goals with your team during strategic planning.

Objectives and Key Results Template for Virtual Strategic Planning

Do a series of shorter planning sessions

Instead of an all-day planning session that may only exhaust the participants, plan for several shorter sessions over the span of 3-5 weeks.

For longer planning sessions, take frequent and longer breaks lasting 20-30 minutes to allow the participants to manage their local home environment and attend to any issue that may arise (i.e. feeding their pets) and also refresh themselves occasionally.

Have participants do homework prior to the meeting

Have the participants review and analyze relevant reports and documents, and write down their questions, observations, and recommendations prior to each session. This will help devote time more productively for actual planning, decision-making , and problem-solving during the meeting time.

Keep all documents organized and easily accessible

Numerous reports, presentations, documents, spreadsheets, and marketing assets are exchanged and referred to during strategic planning. And more often than not, these are scattered across various platforms and devices.

Especially when working remotely, where asking for a simple data report may turn into a prolonged Slack chat or even another dreaded video call, it’s important to maintain a central location to store and manage all relevant files and documents, so everyone knows where to find what they want without having to ask another.  

Use a document and file management system like Google Drive or OneDrive to simplify collaborating on shared documents.

What’s Your Take on Virtual Strategic Planning?

A solid strategic plan is crucial for any business to grow and thrive in the ever-changing market they are competing in. With the new set of challenges brought on by COVID-19, it’s become even more important to continue with strategizing for the future.

As of now, it’s still unclear as to when we will be able to conduct physical planning sessions in the future. However, although done online, separated by screens, which may even pose a different set of difficulties, virtual strategic planning is the only practical way for remote teams to go about this right now. With the points above, we hope that you manage to streamline the process of virtual strategic planning successfully.

Got more tips on virtual strategic planning? Let us know in the comments section below.

Join over thousands of organizations that use Creately to brainstorm, plan, analyze, and execute their projects successfully.

More Related Articles

What is an Action Plan? Learn with Templates and Examples

Amanda Athuraliya is the communication specialist/content writer at Creately, online diagramming and collaboration tool. She is an avid reader, a budding writer and a passionate researcher who loves to write about all kinds of topics.

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Planning a Strategy Meeting? Read This First

By Anthony Taylor - December 21, 2017

SME Strategy is a  strategy consulting firm  that specializes in helping organizations align their teams and operations around a shared vision, mission, values, goals, and action plans. Our   strategic planning services  offer guidance on how a  strategic planning facilitator   can provide support in constructing an effective strategic plan that ensures your strategy is  communicated and implemented  across your entire organization.

Have you been asked to lead your team's next strategy meeting?

It's a condition that affects millions of managers every year. 

Symptoms include: Worry, concern, anxiety, and Googling any information they can to point them in the right direction.

Don't worry - you aren't alone.

At SME Strategy, we have created a breakthrough therapy to help managers with UMS (upcoming meeting syndrome) and have put together these tips and resources to help you overcome your anxiety and stress:

  • Strategy meeting agendas:  One day strategy meeting agenda, two day strategy meeting agenda, and virtual strategy session agenda . Use these as a guide for your strategic planning meeting. Keep in mind that these are accelerated agenda's and are best used with a trained   strategic planning facilitator .
  • Strategic planning questions : 15 questions to think about before you have your strategic planning session.
  • Overview of the strategic planning process
  • Strategic planning frameworks   to set the foundation for your strategic plan.
  • How to do Scenario planning

Best Practices and tips for your strategic planning session:

Take five of these and you'll be better in the morning. 

We can help you align your team around a clear vision, mission, values, goals and action plans,

s o you can lead your organization more effectively and get better results.

Book a call to discuss your options

  • Do the pre-work: Your strategic planning session is an opportunity to have multiple managers in a room to make important decisions about the future of the organization. Time should be spend discussing and sharing, and not on reporting out. Reports can be sent out in advance, and time can be used discussing and clarifying.  Also, if you have key questions to ask: What do your think our Strengths/weaknesses are? What is your 5 year vision? Ask those before the session so they have time to think. Not everyone does well thinking on their feet.
  • Get alignment and agreement on your vision first: Nothing happens without a common vision/a common place to get to. Get everyone to share their vision and move your team from thinking you're on the same page by having a vision that's implied, to knowing your team is on the same page and having the vision and future be explicit.  You'll leave your strategic planning meeting with one big win right away and it will sustain the work that needs to be done after.
  • You don't have to chase people to get their work done after the planning session: Your vision should create a future that people  want  to create, such that doing the work that's required is something that they want to do, and that before leaving the session, something they have taken responsibility for. Don't leave the session without prioritized action items and accountabilities for each item/milestone. That's the promise they are giving their colleagues that they will get it done.
  • Share what you got from the meeting with the rest of the team: Communication within an organization is the lifeblood of your employees. If they don't know where the company is going and where the focus is, how do you expect them to contribute? Worse, if they don't know what's going on they will wonder why they are kept out of the loop and they won't ask you. They will ask their coworkers, and that starts causing unnecessary concerns. Share your plan, and pull them into it. It's not your plan; it's their plan. Share the results from your strategic planning session and take the next steps from there.

If you have questions about what to do next, leave them in the comments and check out our   YouTube channel for more walkthroughs.

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Tips for a Successful Virtual Strategic Planning Session

Anna Kosova, CAE, MBA, Capital Association Management Lynne Carbone, Lynne Carbone & Associates, Inc.

In the past few months, associations have found it challenging or impossible to hold in person strategic planning sessions due to global pandemic restrictions. However, strategic planning sessions are essential for organizations to chart their paths forward, and alternative approaches must be explored.

Typically, strategic planning sessions require an in- person format and last 1 ½ – 2 days. This year the pandemic has impacted travel, participation numbers and engagement spacing. A virtual format is the most viable alternative given existing constraints.

This trend is the new reality for many associations, including a client of Capital Association Management, an AMCI-accredited association management company in Washington, DC. This medium-sized ($1.5 million in annual revenue) certification-based association servicing a specialized niche in the construction industry planned to hold an in-person Board strategic planning session shortly after its annual conference in April. Needless to say, plans were tabled after the COVID-19 pandemic began. And after consulting with our firm, the Board ultimately decided to hold a virtual session in August.

The strategic planning meeting was held for a total of 12 hours over 3 days. While it was different from historical strategic planning meetings with participants seated around a big table in one room, it ultimately was successful.

“I’ve been through a number of strategic planning sessions over the years and this was probably the smoothest and most focused I’ve ever experienced, especially given the circumstances!”

Mark Gelfo, PE, CxA, EMP, LEED Fellow, ACG Board Member

So, how did we pull this virtual meeting off, and how did we make sure it was a success? This article looks into everything that a strategic planning session entails and provides tips on holding a successful virtual session. We’ll start with a quick primer on strategic planning.

tips for strategic planning session

Why is a strategic planning necessary?

There are many reasons why associations or organizations should commit to a strategic planning process including:

In one sentence, strategic planning catalyzes a continued growth trajectory and enhanced product or service delivery to customers. The practical benefits of strategic planning are that it:

There are many other things that a strategic plan will NOT do including:

tips for strategic planning session

Retaining an experienced facilitator for your virtual strategic planning session is essential. The facilitator must be capable of “managing the room,” coordinating meetings in such a way that they reach a precise conclusion and achieve everything that they are intended to achieve, whether in-person or virtually. The facilitator hired for our virtual strategic planning session was Lynne Carbone & Associates Inc. (LCA). We found their support excellent. The following is a summary of how LCA achieves successful virtual strategic planning efforts:

“In our experience, running successful virtual strategic planning meetings requires a number of design and facilitation features:

The following strategic planning virtual meeting “tips” are offered by LCA:

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How To Facilitate a Strategic Planning Session in Two Hours

Aggressive facilitation for strategic planning.

Sometimes, when clients call on us to lead a strategic planning session they only have a couple of hours set aside to do the facilitation. Although that isn’t much time (more is better), it is possible for a meeting facilitator to facilitate a strategic planning session in two hours.  We call the approach aggressive facilitation. Here’s how aggressive facilitation for strategic planning works:

  • Limit the size of the group to maximum twelve participants . More than twelve is too many for effective facilitation in a short time frame.
  • Do as much advance work as possible . Mainly this involves disseminating the current strategic plan (if there is one, sometimes there isn’t) and any insight on its status – metrics, market research, customer feedback, etc. It’s helpful if participants prepare their own SWOT of the existing organization/plan in advance.
  • Define the time-frame for the strategic plan . Three years is typical. Annual operating plans fit under the strategic plan consistent with executing the strategic pillars that are defined. Some organizations argue that strategic plans are done on a one-year time-frame . They aren’t. Missions only change occasionally and some pillars (eg, building new manufacturing capacity) may take years to execute.
  • Set appropriate goals for the session . Will this be the ‘final, final’ or will the output of this session set the basis for some additional work to verify and fill out what has been developed?
  • Start the session. Conduct a group SWOT of the current status of the organization and strategic plan if there is one . This is a quick easy way for the meeting facilitator to get the group into the session and get them participating. Capture all input on a digital or paper flip chart. Allow maximum fifteen minutes.
  • Facilitate a discussion to define or verify (if there is one) the organization’s mission . Mission is one of the most misunderstood corner stones of strategic planning. Don’t mess around, use this definition of mission: who does your organization serve and how does it serve them? Although you might think that most organizations are clear on this, the truth is that the majority aren’t. Doing everything for everyone is impossible. So who is it? What is it we do? Elements of this facilitation include group discussion, individual work to craft/draft mission statement options, group sharing and combining of options and some form of consensus defining process (vote!) to agree on the best option. The meeting facilitator should allow 45 minutes for this part of the process. (Note: when we lead sessions, clarifying the mission always takes the most time. If it seems easy or only takes a few minutes then your organization is either unique and/or there is something missing.)
  • Using the mission definition as the anchor, define the organization’s strategic pillars. Strategic pillars are those things the organization does consistently in order to execute its mission. For example, education and advocacy are two pillars common to associations (its how members are served). Pricing and selection are common retail pillars (its how shoppers are served). Destinations and service are common airline pillars (its how travellers are served). The maximum number of pillars shouldn’t exceed five. Like people, organizations only have a limited amount of capacity. Note that strategic pillars are seldom re-invented from scratch. However, the evolution of pillars (to gain an advantage in achieving the organization’s mission) is the essence of strategic planning. Hint: if you aren’t clear what your organization’s current pillars are, take a look at your website. It’s quite common to find the current pillars of an organization (how it serves the people it serves) broken out as sections of the website.  Allow 15 minutes. Put particular focus on any new pillars required.
  • Identify the priority work to set-up new pillars and execute on existing . Priorities like setting up new distribution may take years to complete. Others like the annual convention may be executed more quickly, even though changes to the execution may be critical to better execution of the mission. Allow 35 minutes to identify the priority work that will be done on each pillar. Use the SWOT analysis to identify opportunities for improving on execution of existing pillars.
  • Summarize and wrap-up . Ten minutes. “Today we defined and/or verified the mission of our organization and the five strategic pillars we will execute over the next one to three years in order to achieve our mission. Based on these strategic pillars we need to develop this year’s operating plan for each pillar and the budgets. See you in three weeks.”

Meeting facilitator keys to aggressively facilitating a strategic or any other planning session in a short time-frame:

  • Don’t let anyone run-on or dominate, cut them off (based on the limited time available)
  • Don’t wait for volunteers to input; pick them out
  • Help the group make decisions – use patterns, trends, logic to point the group towards the most likely outcomes (done more aggressively, less objectively here than in typical facilitation)
  • Tell the group how much time is available eg, “two minutes left”
  • If a strong leader helps move the process forward occasionally (eg, “I’m going to save us all some time; branding is one of our pillars this plan”), let them do it (allow more leeway for them to be assertive than in a typical session where too much assertiveness will shut down the group)

Using a facilitated and a strong meeting facilitator to ram through some serious strategic planning into a short time frame has benefits. Sense of urgency results in clarity that frequently seems to mirror longer, more drawn out sessions.

Always Confirm: The Two Reasons for Doing Strategic Planning

We find that organizations sometimes/often forget why they are doing strategic planning. This impacts the quality of the plan. There are two reasons to do a strategic plan: 1) to mitigate risk 2) to execute the mission better. Keep those in mind when you are conducting a strategic planning session. Keep asking: ‘how does this help us mitigate risk?’ and ‘how does this help us execute our mission better’.

Here’s another interesting blog on strategic planning: What Almost Every Board Misses About Strategic Planning

Book Guide on Strategy Facilitation

Book guide on strategy and ai, about the author: jim crocker.

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10 Tips to Strategic Planning: Mastering Meeting Success

Team building, developing a business strategy, and constructing a company culture are high-energy endeavors requiring a lot of energy. There is no such thing as an ultimate result. But rather an unlimited variety of opportunities for growth and development, as well as measures by which success may be measured at various points along the way.

As your company grows in both size and complexity, there will be times when you will need to rethink the way you handle your strategic planning/priorities and employee development. Here are some suggestions.

It’s essential to be prepared:

The key to a successful strategic planning process is to figure out what information you need to make good decisions. If you want to come up with new ideas. You need to look outside of your organization and the knowledge of your tribe. As required, gather feedback from employees, clients, customers, suppliers, partners, and other stakeholders in the project.

Comparing yourself to other organizations with the same goal or service delivery scope is essential for getting internal data. It can help you think about strategic issues. Strategic planning experts are usually the best people to gather and prepare this kind of information. Make sure you have an idea of your organization’s strengths and weaknesses by having a 360-degree view of things.

Establish a schedule for regular evaluations:

Just before you go from your strategic planning retreat, double-check that everyone is using the same calendar for at least four review sessions every year. Review sessions should be brief, held off-site, and limited to discussing goals and progress toward goals. They should not have any other items on their person.

It’s essential to make a guest list:

There are times when you have to sit through a meeting that doesn’t have anything to do with your job. If there are people at a meeting who can’t make decisions or participate in the discussion, they don’t need to be there. To show that you care about other people’s time and energy, only invite the most important people to the party.

To see if the person who was supposed to go to the meeting can send someone else from their team instead, ask them. Then, if that person is significant, postpone the discussion until the right time so that you can be sure it will work.

Creating a place where people can work together:

It can save money and be more efficient if a soda company changes the design of its soda cans, so they do it. The top people think it’s a great idea, so they go ahead and do it. In order to make up for their lack of knowledge, the marketing team keeps up with their branding and marketing efforts from the past.

Unfortunately, manufacturing changes were made when the problem was found, which led to the company losing money. If the company had held a strategy review meeting, it might have been able to avoid this.

Allow for some room for expansion:

Your facilitator, such as a teacher standing in front of a class, may like to speak about a query or a subject with the group. Afterward, urge participants to jot down any thoughts they have that are not connected to the topic at hand. So that, they might bring them up when the meeting is finished.

Be confident that your meeting facilitator possesses the tools and agility to keep the group on track. While it also changes the subject when required.

Each section should be assigned a specific time slot:

Set a time limit for each of the subjects you want to address in your appointment before you start strategic planning what you’ll talk about. When discussing issues like brainstorming, mitigating potential problems, or providing a more thorough explanation and explanation, allot a lot of time to those that are more significant or difficult.

Be conscious of time and always assume that everything on your to-do list will take longer than it does. To facilitate any last-minute inquiries or discussions, you should do so in this manner. If you want to be focused and productive, you need to do each task at a predetermined time each day.

Increasing openness and transparency:

People at every level of the company are kept up to date on the company’s plans through strategy review sessions. So that the leadership can help ease the inevitable problems, they cut through the unavoidable force fields. Because of strategy review meetings, each department has to show that it is making progress toward the organization’s goals and that it is working hard to do so.

Spend some time together thinking about the broader picture:

Even the most essential strategic talks can be squeezed into a half-day meeting. Because we all have a lot to do, it’s understandable that we don’t have enough time to do everything.

To be a good leader, you need to use your time wisely so that your meetings are productive. Putting in the time is worth it. Learning new things will take time, getting your team on board, and thinking about the big picture to make a strategic plan.

Regular team and board meetings could also prepare everyone for a full or half-day seminar, but this isn’t the only way. Board meetings should be changed to show presentations on stakeholder input, financial and service trends, and other important information.

Hire a third person to work as a facilitator:

In this case, an outside facilitator can help keep your team on track and remove any personal biases that could make your plan go off track. It would be best if you chose a facilitator knowledgeable about the design field and has a lot of information about your company, your markets, your clients, and all of your previous strategic planning projects. Do not let the facilitator write your plans. Instead, each member of your team should write their plan of action. 

Asking the difficult questions:

Simple to say, hard to do. There are a lot of planning sessions where the most challenging part is when I ask people to make a firm promise to stop doing something rather than think about it. Do we have any holy cows? What would we do if we could only do one or two things well? Is it essential for this organization to be set up the way it is? How do we think we can’t find a better way to reach our goals because of these assumptions?

Keep a database of all meetings’ issues and decisions:

In either case, make sure someone is recording the meeting. Meeting minutes should be taken as the meeting goes on, if possible. Of course, you’ll have the best record of the meeting if you write it down as it happens. It’s essential to write down critical decisions and tasks in meeting minutes. 

Conclusion:

Keeping in mind how much money meetings can cost a company is critical to managing them effectively. Our goal is to assist you in thinking about your calendar and meeting agendas differently, allowing each meeting to run as smoothly as possible. 

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Run » finance, 4 simple steps to smart financial planning for small businesses.

Financial planning often involves looking for funding to help take your business performance to the next level. Here are some strategies to explore.

 A young woman sits at a wooden table in a cafe and types something on a digital tablet. On the table next to the tablet are several receipts, a pair of glasses, a small brown paper bag, and a calculator. The woman has long dark hair in braids with gold beads, and she wears a pale pink sweater and a gold necklace with a small pendant.

Financial planning is an iterative, ongoing process that helps your business reach its long-term goals. Financial planning strategies assess your business’s current financial position and allow you to adapt to market changes, forecast business growth, and achieve higher returns.

A typical financial strategy combines two key elements to help you reach your short- and long-term financial benchmarks. These elements are debt and investments. As you think about your financial strategy for the next year and beyond, here’s how to evaluate these options for fueling growth.

Start with goal-setting

Before you can determine whether to take on debt or pitch to investors, you must know the result toward which you are working. Set a SMART goal — one that’s Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound — that you can break down into smaller financial targets.

For instance, most business owners aim to increase profit. However, there are more manageable goals that you can set along the way to earning more profit, such as:

  • Increase revenue.
  • Streamline operating expenses.
  • Improve customer retention.
  • Optimize pricing.

Set numerical targets and deadlines for these smaller benchmarks to get a clear picture of the resources and financial strategy that will help you make progress toward your larger objective.

[Read more: CO— Roadmap for Rebuilding: Planning Your Financial Future ]

How to use debt as a financial strategy

Loans are the most common form of debt that a company can use in its financial planning strategy. Loans from financial institutions, credit card companies, or even friends and family can be a good way to get the cash you need for short-term investments.

As a financial planning strategy, the appeal of using debt is that it’s relatively flexible. “Banks offer a range of different business loan products, including term loans, business lines of credit, equipment financing and commercial real estate loans, among other options,” wrote NerdWallet . “Unless you opt for a product that has a specific use case, like a business auto loan, for example, you can generally use a bank loan in a variety of ways to grow and expand your business.”

However, loans have strict eligibility requirements and can be slow to fund, involving a lot of paperwork and a strong credit score. New businesses may struggle to use debt in their financial planning strategy.

Loans are the most common form of debt that a company can use in its financial planning strategy.

How to use equity or investments in financial planning

Issuing equity (stock) is another way to fund your financial plan. Startups in particular can sell shares of ownership to investors to raise capital for growth, expansion, or acquisitions. This allows you to avoid taking on debt and can bring on partners with mentorship and advice to offer.

“With equity financing, there is no loan to repay. The business doesn’t have to make a monthly loan payment which can be particularly important if the business doesn’t initially generate a profit. This in turn, gives you the freedom to channel more money into your growing business,” wrote The Hartford .

The downside of equity financing is that you will need to share a part of your profit with your equity partners. Equity is best suited for financial strategies that require significant capital quickly.

[Read more: 4 Financial Forecasting Models for Small Businesses ]

Final tips for financial planning

Debt and equity are the key ways to ensure you have the cash flow to reach your financial goals, but there are other elements to consider in your strategy. Make sure you plan a safety net for unforeseen risks; build an emergency fund and get insurance to protect your business. In addition, review your financial results quarterly and annually to ensure your projections are realistic.

“As you look over your annual income reports, you can gain insight into the activities that led to improved revenue and double down on them to raise profits as part of your financial plan,” wrote FundKite , a business funding platform.

Revisit your financial plan frequently to make sure the funding options you explore are still serving your business goals. There are plenty of alternative funding sources — such as grants and crowdfunding — that can help you reach short-term benchmarks along the way.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here .

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  • March 11-14, 2024
  • Atlanta, GA

Maximizing productivity: Optimizing picking efficiency through strategic slotting.

Monday, March 11 • 1:30 PM - 2:15 PM

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Title: Maximizing productivity: Optimizing picking efficiency through strategic slotting.

Join us for an insightful session as we delve into the success story of our transformative project with a leading global animal health company . In response to their evolving logistical needs, we undertook a strategic slotting initiative within their existing warehouse design, revolutionizing their operational efficiency.

This session will showcase the challenges faced by our client in their warehouse operations and how our team collaborated closely with their logistics experts to implement a tailored slotting strategy. By carefully analyzing SKU characteristics, order patterns, and facility layout, we optimized the placement of items to streamline the picking process.

Key highlights of the session include:

  • Challenges and Objectives:  An overview of the specific challenges our client faced in their warehouse operations and the objectives set for the optimization project.
  • Strategic Slotting Approach:  Insights into the meticulous analysis conducted to understand SKU velocity, demand patterns, and other crucial factors influencing the slotting strategy.
  • Implementation Process:  A step-by-step walkthrough of the implementation process, from initial planning to execution, including any technology or software solutions employed for enhanced efficiency.
  • Operational Impact:  Quantifiable results and the tangible benefits realized by our client following the implementation of the strategic slotting initiative, such as improved picking speed, reduced errors, and enhanced overall warehouse performance.
  • Lessons Learned and Best Practices:  Reflections on the project, discussing any unexpected challenges encountered, lessons learned, and best practices that can be applied to similar warehouse optimization projects.

This session will provide valuable insights for warehouse managers, logistics professionals, and anyone interested in the dynamic field of supply chain optimization. Don't miss this opportunity to learn from a real-world success story and gain practical strategies for enhancing efficiency in warehouse operations.

Type: On-Floor Seminars

See how Automated Material Handling Systems and Supply Chain Solutions will enable a leading global animal health company to: #1 Increase slotting and picking efficiency #2 Reduce replenishment time & labor #3 Improve space utilization for reserve storage area #4 Develop a facility that is flexible for future growth

Product Category: Consulting & Professional Services,Controls and Controlling Devices,Conveyors,Distribution & Warehousing Software,Labels and Labeling Devices,Order Picking & E-Commerce Fulfillment,Racks,Sortation Equipment,Supply Chain Execution Systems and Software,Systems Integration Services

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  • Order Picking & E-Commerce Fulfillment
  • Sortation Equipment
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Strategic Plan Implementation Update: February 2024

Dear Colleagues:

Thank you to those of you who joined us on Thursday for our most recent staff/faculty strategic planning implementation gathering. Following is an update on the work the group accomplished together.

Joanna Curtis, VP for Advancement, and Kaylee Highstrom, AVP, Advancement Operations and Campaign, started the session with a description of the college’s next fundraising campaign. They shared that the goals of this campaign will include raising funds to support the goals of the strategic plan, as well as actively engaging  alumni in the life and work of the college. 

Following the campaign update, attendees participated in small-group discussions with leaders from  four working groups : Advising, First-year Experience, High-impact Practices (HIPs), and the EPAG ad hoc Curriculum Committee. The working group representatives shared that the discussions were helpful and will help shape the summary reports being generated by the groups.

Similar to the process used this summer, The co-chairs will meet to identify common themes or recommendations in draft working group reports  The Senior Leadership Team (SLT) will review the final reports and will discuss the outputs with the working group co-chairs. This set of information will guide the next steps in the implementation process.

We encourage you to review the updates to the  Strategic Plan website,  which reflects our progress and plans to date. 

Finally, we hope you will join us for our  last Thursday SPI gathering over lunch on March 21 . You can  register for that session here .

Thanks for your continued partnership,

Paul Overvoorde, Bethany Miller, Sara Suelflow, Julie Hurbanis

Strategic Plan Implementation Committee

LkldNow

Plans for Lakeland's Munn Park Are Moving Forward, But Slowly

T he re-imagining of Munn Park is inching forward, but more than a year after the city unveiled concept renderings, progress is slow. City Manager Shawn Sherrouse said design work is continuing and the costs will be discussed during the city’s strategic planning retreat in May.

City leaders have considered multiple ideas for amenities in the city’s revamped central square , including possible game zones, an entertainment pavilion, a food truck parking area and a fountain. The city has also discussed closing off certain streets, returning them to brick and making them pedestrian-only.

However, it’s been more than a year since the city presented design concepts at a public workshop and asked for input. And the last public conversation about the park took place in August.

Some business owners have privately told LkldNow that they are anxious for work to get started and for the city to provide a real solution for the people experiencing homelessness and who hang out in the park each day. 

One business owner dubbed the park “Bum Park,” while another said some people feel intimidated to enjoy the benches or even cut through the park.

At Thursday morning’s Historic Preservation Committee meeting, committee member Melynda Rinker asked Emily Foster, a senior planner on the historic preservation staff, where things stand.

“Do we have an update on it because it kind of got removed from here to elsewhere and then would it have to come back to us?” Rinker asked. “Where are we on that?”

Foster said a subcommittee made recommendations to the City Commission and the city manager.

“There were a series of public hearings or public meetings about getting input of what the public would like to see in Munn Park,” Foster said, pointing to “further planning efforts at the City Commission level, that they wanted to further discuss the park and its potential future design improvements.”

City Manager Sherrouse emailed LkldNow to say they listened to input from residents to come up with several designs.

“The City has continued to work with our consultant to provide multiple design options for consideration,” Sherrouse said. “This effort is ongoing and there will, likely, be related discussions during our strategic planning process this year.  Funding considerations are unknown until a design option has been determined.”

The strategic planning retreat will take place May 13  and 14 . The all-day sessions cover every facet and every department of the city, including goals, plans and budgets.

The post Plans for Lakeland’s Munn Park Are Moving Forward, But Slowly appeared first on LkldNow .

Design recommendations will be unveiled during the annual Strategic Planning sessions in May.

For more audio journalism and storytelling, download New York Times Audio , a new iOS app available for news subscribers.

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The ruling in former president donald j. trump’s civil fraud case could cost him all his available cash..

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Jonah Bromwich, who covers criminal justice in New York, and Maggie Haberman, a senior political correspondent for The Times, explain what that will mean for Mr. Trump as a businessman and as a candidate.

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IMAGES

  1. Strategic Planning Process in 5 Simple Steps

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  2. Guide to Strategic Planning Infographic (Non-Profit Edition)

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  3. How To Facilitate A Strategic Planning Session

    tips for strategic planning session

  4. Top 7 Tips for Conducting a Successful Strategic Planning Session

    tips for strategic planning session

  5. How to Hold a Successful Strategic Planning Session

    tips for strategic planning session

  6. Organizational Strategic Plan- Elements and Examples

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  1. Strategic Plan Training 6 15 23

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  3. Strategic Planning

  4. Strategic Planning Session -- 8/3/2023

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Facilitate a Strategic Planning Session [2024 Strategic Planning

    Strategic Planning Facilitation Step 1: THINK Through the Purpose and Outcome of the Meeting Stephen Covey advises us to "begin with the end in mind." What is the purpose of this meeting? What do we hope to accomplish? Who should attend? What are our strategic objectives for this workshop?

  2. Ten Tips on How to Lead a Strategic Planning Session

    1. Get ready. Deciding what information you need to make meaningful decisions is the key to an effective strategic planning process. Prepare a full picture of your current situation. This picture doesn't have to be deep, but it should be broad. I recommend that you go outside the four walls of your organization and the tribe's knowledge.

  3. How to hold a strategic planning meeting

    Build buy-in before the meeting starts First, you'll want to build buy-in with everyone involved. Keep what you're doing top-of-mind, whether that's through casual conversations or company-wide memos.

  4. The 8-Part Guide To Leading A Successful Strategy Meeting

    1. An Introduction To Strategy Review Meetings If you want to improve performance in your organization, it all starts with strategy. Strategic objectives are vital to the success of your organization's future.

  5. How to Facilitate Effective Strategic Planning Sessions

    1 Define the purpose 2 Choose the right tools 3 Prepare the agenda 4 Engage the participants 5 Manage the process Be the first to add your personal experience 6 Follow up the session Be the first...

  6. How to Facilitate a Successful Strategic Planning Meeting [Best ...

    Follow the six best practices to run a successful meeting; prepare background materials, set ground rules, encourage active participation, stay focused, manage time, document and share outcomes, and evaluate and reflect. Use Visme's easy-to-use tools and templates to create the visuals you need to run the meeting successfully.

  7. 10 Tips for a Successful Strategic Planning Session

    Log In Try for free These are our top 10 tips for a successful strategic planning session. First, don't try to teach your methodology. Second, use a strawman.

  8. How to Conduct a Successful Strategic Planning Session

    1. Choose an Off-Site Location Jennifer recommends getting out of the regular office and into an energizing space for planning sessions. This can increase creative thinking and reduce distractions. "When you're away from the office, you aren't going back to your desk and getting pulled into something," Jennifer says. 2.

  9. How to hold effective strategic planning meetings

    1. Set an agenda for the strategic planning meeting ‍. It is important to set an agenda for the strategic planning meeting to ensure that there is a shared understanding of the goals and objectives of the meeting. 2. Make sure participants are on the same page about the goals and objectives of the meeting ‍.

  10. How to Facilitate a Strategic Planning Session

    Market growth/share matrix SWOT Analysis —SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) Strategic Objectives —These are statements about what's critical for the strategy. The strategic objectives connect to the measures and activities the company will take. Vision Statement —Describes where the business will be in 5-10 years time.

  11. What is strategic planning? A 5-step guide

    How to build an organizational strategy Get our free ebook and learn how to bridge the gap between mission, strategic goals, and work at your organization. Get the ebook What is strategic planning? Strategic planning is a business process that helps you define and share the direction your company will take in the next three to five years.

  12. How to Facilitate a Strategic Planning Session (9 Steps)

    3- Set expectations and ground rules. Speaking of getting everyone on the same page…. Facilitating a strategic planning session is no easy job. There's a careful balance to strike between making people feel comfortable enough to voice their opinions, concerns, and thoughts openly, and keeping the meeting moving.

  13. 5 Tips For A Successful Strategic Planning Session

    So, if you're planning to facilitate a strategic planning session, here are five tips to make sure it counts. #1: Determine Your Game Plan Before creating an agenda, or deciding who to invite, think about where you are right now as a business. Is your strategy currently working? What do you need this planning meeting to achieve?

  14. 6 Expert Tips On Strategic Planning

    The team must be heard, invested in the process, and agree to goals upfront or the plan will not get adopted.". ‍ Paige Arnof-Fenn. ‍ Founder & CEO, Mavens & Moguls. 2. Do it faster. "Too often strategic planning meetings are long and drawn-out, but that doesn't need to be the case.

  15. The Complete Guide to Virtual Strategic Planning

    In this post, we are sharing some effective tips for conducting strategic planning sessions remotely, hoping it will help you carry out your meetings successfully. Virtual Strategic Planning. Strategic planning is the process by which organizations determine their vision for the future and develop strategies to get there successfully. It involves:

  16. Tips for Better Strategic Planning

    Before you get too far into your strategic planning process, check out the following tips — your quick guide to getting the most out of your strategic planning process: Pull together a diverse, yet appropriate group of people to make up your planning team. Diversity leads to a better strategy. Bring together a small core team — between six ...

  17. Planning a Strategy Meeting? Read This First

    Keep in mind that these are accelerated agenda's and are best used with a trained strategic planning facilitator. Strategic planning questions: 15 questions to think about before you have your strategic planning session. Overview of the strategic planning process; Strategic planning frameworks to set the foundation for your strategic plan.

  18. Tips for a Successful Virtual Strategic Planning Session

    The following strategic planning virtual meeting "tips" are offered by LCA: ⦁ Schedule the meeting at the right time with no session exceeding a 4-hour block. Ideally, virtual strategic planning sessions should be scheduled over a 3 day period.

  19. How To Facilitate a Strategic Planning Session in Two Hours

    Start the session. Conduct a group SWOT of the current status of the organization and strategic plan if there is one. This is a quick easy way for the meeting facilitator to get the group into the session and get them participating. Capture all input on a digital or paper flip chart. Allow maximum fifteen minutes.

  20. 10 Tips to Strategic Planning: Mastering Meeting Success

    Keep a database of all meetings' issues and decisions: In either case, make sure someone is recording the meeting. Meeting minutes should be taken as the meeting goes on, if possible. Of course, you'll have the best record of the meeting if you write it down as it happens.

  21. Financial Planning Strategies to Reach your Money Goals

    Final tips for financial planning. Debt and equity are the key ways to ensure you have the cash flow to reach your financial goals, but there are other elements to consider in your strategy. Make sure you plan a safety net for unforeseen risks; build an emergency fund and get insurance to protect your business.

  22. Maximizing productivity: Optimizing picking efficiency through

    Title: Maximizing productivity: Optimizing picking efficiency through strategic slotting. Description: Join us for an insightful session as we delve into the success story of our transformative project with a leading global animal health company.In response to their evolving logistical needs, we undertook a strategic slotting initiative within their existing warehouse design, revolutionizing ...

  23. Strategic Plan Implementation Update: February 2024

    Dear Colleagues: Thank you to those of you who joined us on Thursday for our most recent staff/faculty strategic planning implementation gathering. Following is an update on the work the group accomplished together. Joanna Curtis, VP for Advancement, and Kaylee Highstrom, AVP, Advancement Operations and Campaign, started the session with a description of the college's

  24. Plans for Lakeland's Munn Park Are Moving Forward, But Slowly

    The strategic planning retreat will take place May 13 and 14. The all-day sessions cover every facet and every department of the city, including goals, plans and budgets.

  25. Trump's Cash Crunch

    Last week, when a civil court judge in New York ruled against Donald J. Trump, he imposed a set of penalties so severe that they could temporarily sever the former president from his real-estate ...

  26. Patent Public Advisory Committee executive session

    Add to Calendar2024-02-28 08:00:002024-02-28 08:00:00Patent Public Advisory Committee executive session ActivitySpeakerThe Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) will have deliberative discussions regarding pre-decisional confidential information on the USPTO's strategic planning and operations.PPAC Chairperson, Loletta Darden USPTO Headquarter 600 Dulany Street Alexandria, VA 22314 United ...