Eight Ways to Improve Your Next Strategic Retreat
1. Different Location:
Start your strategic facilitation at a different location than your traditional company meeting space if feasibly possible. The primary purpose behind this is to get your mind out of the day-to-day business that is clouding your mind. You truly want to think strategically and how you can move your company in the right direction. A new location will avoid the risk that employees will interrupt the meeting for the next crisis. Trust me, this happens!
2. Be present:
We use Zoom a lot for strategic planning, executive coaching, accountability calls, etc. However, it is very valuable to be present for that first ideation session. We recently worked with a company that had not been all together in a room since COVID. Being present helps you get more aligned and to see the non-verbal communication that is harder to pick-up via Zoom. Plus, the meetings outside the meetings often provide the necessary communication to improve relationships and remove conflict.
3. Be effective:
You only have some much time to spend in the clouds dreaming about your 10-year vision, 3-year vivid vision, and your long-term destinations (goals.) We recommend approximately 1.5 days for this first session. Have a clear agenda. Then allow for some short breaks; but not too long.
4. No screens:
No cell phones and computer screens open. Ok, this may be asking for too much. BUT, you should turn OFF notifications and ideally turn your phones off and laptops. Nothing should be open unless required for the strategic meeting.
5. Hire a professional strategic facilitator:
If you try to be a facilitator as the CEO, you will not get the input and buy-in that you are looking for. As you lead, they will follow. Remember, you hired them and your team will agree because their mortgage payment depends on it. When you hire a professional strategic facilitator, YOU get to participate. You get to step out of your role as CEO for a short-period and THINK. When possible, hold off your input and opinions until the end of each agenda session. Your team will appreciate being heard. Often, you will hear things that you had not considered before.
6. Set Time to Trim Your Plan:
The beautiful part of a strategic retreat is when you have clear skies and the appearance of no obstacles, if makes you feel like you can go back in the office and crush it. The problem is that there are LOTS of obstacles and challenges with your day to day work. Therefore, set a separate session to reduce down your ideas to the absolute few ideas that will have the biggest impact on the outcome.
7. Set a start date:
All strategic plans have an end date. Few strategic plans have a start date. In fact, our research shows that only 20% of strategic plans are on time. You should not be done at the strategic retreat. For example, you should follow up team members who are not at the retreat, who will participate on the plan for buy-in.
You may be creating a 3-year strategic plan, but nothing helps propel a long-term plan more than some early wins! We create 10-week sprints to start executing your first journeys. Act every week to establish progress and get early wins. Then, celebrate those wins. Learn what you can do better and apply that to your next sprint.
Perhaps you can celebrate like Husky Stadium did in their last week victory against the team from the south. (Pictured with Abby and Zach celebrating on the field after the game!)