How’s 2021 been so far for your business? Hopefully it’s been one home run after another. No matter where you are, it’s time to start tallying up the scorecard and begin planning for next year.
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I don’t know about you, but strategic planning didn’t always exist in our company. Every year would come and go, the business would grow, and we thought that was just fine. It was for a good while. Fine, that is. Trouble is, fine doesn’t scale your business or inspire teams to row the boat in the same direction. It took me a long time to realize that being intentional about annual planning should be a critical part of our business. We’ll be kicking off our fourth annual strategic planning meeting next month. Here are the steps that seem to be working for us:
- Take It Off-Site: Try to get away from the office to change the scenery. We’ve done everything from a fancy resort overnight to just renting out a conference room in a co-working facility. Just the act of getting in the car and going somewhere else made us feel like we weren’t just having another meeting at the office. It definitely paid off, as we all took the commitment to each other more seriously as a result. Our sessions last an entire day and we decided to add another half day last year because we felt rushed. One element we’re trying differently this time is to carve out 15-20 minutes during each of our last four or five leadership meetings to ponder the following questions:
- How have our customers evolved over the last 3 years?
- How will our customers evolve over the next 3 years?
- What are our core competencies?
- Designate a Facilitator: We’re a bit spoiled here. Our sales manager, Neal Lappe, is one of the best group facilitators in the business. He knows how to guide groups through issues and processes that can become thorny or deviate off-track if not run by an expert. Even if you decide to facilitate your own strategic planning session, make sure someone is specified to run it.
- Make It Fun: We’ve visited wineries, had team dinners, and even gone on river-rafting trips together. It’s important to bond beyond just sitting in a conference room together, and a social event or team-building activity serves to deepen experiential sharing and engenders trust among colleagues
- Focus, Focus, Focus: We mandate a “turn it off” policy during our strategic planning sessions. We have several breaks throughout the day where we encourage folks to check emails, texts, etc., but make sure to stress mindfulness during the planning sessions. This policy continues to pay off in all our meetings. The world can wait a few hours.
- Promote and Measure: It doesn’t do any good to plan if it never sees the light of day. We came away last year with 3 strategic anchors (resist the urge to set too many goals):
- Leverage the knowledge of our installation experts to influence the products and services we offer.
- Empower our installation and service teams to deliver exceptional customer experience through project ownership.
- Focus on employee growth through personalized training and advancement opportunities.
Our team made sure to measure our progress towards accomplishing each of the anchors on a weekly basis. We captured tasks and dates using an app called Todoist to make sure each team member understood his or her part to play.
I hope your planning for 2022 goes well and your team decides it’s worth one or two days to plan it all out. What do you do in your company to plan for the year ahead?
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Stay frosty, and see you in the field.