There is a curious coincidence about the relationship between strategic planning and success. Large, successful companies always have strategic plans and management retreats to celebrate accomplishments and recognize opportunities for success. Interestingly enough, start ups do the same thing.
Where is the middle ground?
For whatever reason, companies that are in the middle of the pack typically do not have plans. Or, the plan they do have is stale – the product of a moment in time when the leadership or board of directors insisted to cobble something together which, in turn, was saved in a remote desktop folder or shoved into a drawer somewhere.
For decades, WAV Group has been providing strategic planning facilitation for leading real estate brokerages, technology firms, large MLSs, and large Associations. We have also reviewed strategic plans and business plans for the most ambitious young start-ups. If you are planning your strategic plan to launch your business powerfully into 2017, be sure to consider a proposal from us.
Organizing your strategic planning session will be unique to your business and culture, but here are some elements of strategic planning that may point you in the right direction.
- Discovery – Interview the board of directors and key staff to understand their perspectives about the business. Great boards and business leaders are often closer in their perspectives about the strengths and weaknesses of a company than you might expect. Using an outside facilitator opens the door to more candid discussion.
- Research – Every Company has its Key Performance Indicator – it may be onboarding new agents, satisfaction with technology, consumer satisfaction, retention, growth, or whatever. Update your KPIs and understand how you are tracking toward your goals. The benefit of using a firm like WAV Group is that we can benchmark you against peer groups to better understand your performance.
- Preparation and Event Planning – Strategic planning is an event. You need to create an environment that is conducive to effective planning. This requires preparation to make sure that participants arrive in the right frame of mind. WAV Group performs a number of strategic plans each month. Preparation is a science.
- Start the day with an industry overview. When you being your planning, you need to begin with your lens zoomed way out. Be sure to spend about an hour reviewing recent events and industry initiatives that are shaping our industry today and into the future.
- Provide a company overview. Always start with the company’s positioning statement and mission. Often, this part is a review of the company performance that is routinely reviewed during board meetings. The twist on the strategic planning session is a review of the performance against the information gathered in step 1 – Discovery, and step 2, Research.
- Creative Activity to Change Your State – Strategic planning requires people to structure their thinking. Marilyn calls this “putting on your board hat.” Strategic planning is not about producing results for the benefit of individual staff members or board members who may have their own personal agenda – it’s about building a plan for the company. You need to introduce some creative activities that set the tone and refocus the ideas.
- Brainstorm – this is activity where participants participate in an idea storm.
- Theme development – most of the ideas that come out of the storm can be sorted into themes or categories. Each theme is consolidated and refined by small groups.
- Prioritization – the entire group comes back together for a presentation of themes from a small group leader. After each theme is presented, the group has a facilitated discussion about prioritization.
- Action Plans – The group outlines action plans for each theme, considers resources, capabilities, timelines, reporting, and responsibilities.
- Retreat – this process is both stimulating and exhausting. Its important to finish up with some relaxation and celebration of the day’s events. It is vital to use this retreat time to foster stronger relationships and collaboration among the participants.
Strategic planning is how companies distance themselves from their competitors. Planning will focus an organization on goals and priorities for developing operational excellence in the service of the company mission. It would be our pleasure to discuss our facilitation services with you. Contact Marilyn@WAVGroup.com for confidential discussion.