Strategic Planning Retreats

How to get the most out of them

As strategic planning facilitators Meeting Facilitators International has facilitated hundreds of strategic planning workshops and retreats. Done right, it is an indispensable management tool. Done poorly, it can be a waste of time or worse. So what does it take to do it right?

What do you want to accomplish?

First off, there is no one right way to do strategic planning. Every client who calls us has their own unique situation and unique needs. A small not-for-profit, an Entrepreneurial start-up, and a division of a Fortune 500 company all have different needs.

The first thing that you need to do is to be really clear about what you want to accomplish. You need to start with the big picture and then dig deeper. For example;

Do you want to set a growth strategy?

  • Do you have a well defined growth strategy?
  • How about your competition, do you have a really good understanding of their strengths and weaknesses?
  • Do you know why you win, when you win and why you lose when you lose?
  • How about the environment you compete in, do you all agree as to what the major trends are and how they will affect your business?

Do you want to set priorities as a Nonprofit?

  • Do you want to spend time on your mission and vision, or not?
  • Are you all on the same page with respect to priorities?
  • Have you identified the major trends that will affect your future success?
  • Are there strategic issues that need to be addressed?

These types of questions will help you set the goals for your strategic planning retreat. Once you are clear on the goals you can start to think about activities.

Strategic Planning Activities

Once you have figured out what you want to accomplish you can then begin to figure out the best way to it. Following are best practices for some of the most common activities.

Conducting The Environmental Scan

Your strategy does not exist in a vacuum. Instead it exists in a changing world. If your team is on different pages as to the significance of the major trends in your market, then how can they be on the same page with respect to what your strategy should be?

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SWOT Analysis -- the right way

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats is a classic strategic planning tool. The problem is that too often it is done without any rigor. With the help of a consultant groups simply brainstorm lists of strengths and weaknesses. Over the years we have developed a different approach to each element of the SWOT analysis.

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Mission Vision and Values

Non profit executives and directors are constantly reminded of the importance of having clear mission statements vision statements and values, yet there are so many bad one out there. What does it take to make a good one?

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Setting Goals and Objectives

The right goals seem to pull us toward them. Our confidence is high that we can achieve them — with hard work — and we know that when we do it will feel good. The wrong goals, well…

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Action Planning

Action Planning is where the rubber hits the road. With a well thought out action plan it is clear who is going to do what by when in order to get you where you want to go. Yet many retreats produce unclear action plans or worse no action plans at all.

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From Our Clients

“Over the past five or six years we have worked with Bruce more than a dozen times as a focus group moderator for our pharmaceutical and medical device clients. The clients are always impressed with how quickly Bruce picks up challenging concepts and how easily he communicates them. The high-quality feedback and insight he draws from the focus group participants is what we are all looking for. Bruce’s track record in exceeding client objectives makes me extremely comfortable recommending him to any of our clients regardless of therapeutic area.”

David Small

Vice President Events, Frontline Medical Communications, Inc.

“We wanted to find somebody unbiased, with no agenda, who could lead the retreat and pull in all points of view. Bruce did this and more. He brought some clever ways to make sure that we fully explored our ideas and he forced the discipline of setting priorities and of committing to an action plan. We have now used him three years in a row since everyone sees the value he adds and trusts his process.”

Mary Todd Peterson

CEO, Medmarc Insurance Group

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