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Strategic Planning – An Every Company Must Do!

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Every company needs to have strategic planning sessions at least once a year.

Even very successful companies can end up loosing site of overall goals, and methodologies can become mired in servicing today’s customer’s needs.

Before a strategic planning session can be implemented there are a few key preparation items that must be dealt with.

The first item that must be determined, in order to have a successful strategy session is, who should attend. Many companies make the mistake of only inviting senior management. For the strategy meetings to be successful they must include all management levels. If all management levels do not support the conclusions, the ability to implement the strategic plan will be hampered by the lack of participation of those who will be given the task of implementation.

Larger companies may have to have groups of employees represented by one individual. The individual should be chosen by the group, not by senior management, in a separate meeting. It is important that the individual chosen be respected, a strong representative of the group and be willing to be an active participant.

Another consideration when choosing the individuals that should attend is tenure with the company. A group that is made up of long, medium and short tenured employees will deliver a broader range of new ideas than a group that is made up of only of long term staff.

Once the group is identified, it is important that senior management convey and emphasis that the meetings will be an open forum. There is little sense in having participants at the meetings who are afraid to voice their opinions because a senior manager or an executive is present. The intent of the meetings is to have unabridged input from all departments and all levels of staff.

Only in an open forum can one expect to formulate a strategy that everyone will buy into and hence, be successful. The open forum concept must be maintained throughout the session and that includes meals and any other gathering that takes place. All visual levels of company status must be removed and this includes elite groups dining together, having private meetings and/or whispering between each other.

The last pre-meeting item is choosing a moderator or session leader. The session leader must be able to maintain an orderly flow of conversation, keep the individuals on topic, be a catalyst to expand on presented ideas and views, maintain the agenda time frame and if necessary play devils advocate. It is best if this individual is also available to help set the agenda, organise the venue and work with the company to determine the overall focus of the strategic planning exercise.

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