Creating the right environment in which to conduct your Strategic
Planning is nearly as important to the efficient and timely
completion of your task as was the selection of the team members.
The issues to be addressed in setting the meeting structure are;
selection of the meeting site, the frequency of which to have
meetings and the duration of these meetings.
Meeting site selection is probably the most crucial of the three.
Nothing ruins the flow and function of a meeting more than
non-meeting interruptions. Therefore, the best choice to be made is
to conduct the meeting at an off-site location. Though it is nearly
impossible to eliminate extraneous communication, considering the
popularity of cellular communication, it can at least be minimized
by leaving the premises. Leaving town altogether will yield the best
results, though just getting off-site will be adequate.
Meeting frequency is a more difficult issue. The best choice is to
combine the out of town site choice with a two or three consecutive
day retreat, and hammer the entire Strategy Plan out in one sitting.
This creates the best environment for focused concentration and also
by the constant work tends to break down people's resistance to
compromise. Getting away, working long hours, and committing to
continue until completion will often yield a superior Plan and will
allow you to get the plan into the hands of everyone in the company
in the shortest time possible.
An alternative to working several days straight is to schedule the
planning session for entire day buckets. This is a good solution
that gets people away from their jobs and the associated concerns
long enough to really be able to focus on the task and also puts
enough consecutive hours into the process to begin breaking down any
resistance that individual members might have to the process.
Strategy Plan Elements
A Strategy Plan is going to have five basic elements. They are the
Mission Statement, The Vision Statement, The Statement of Values and
Beliefs, a listing of goals, both short and long term, and the
Statement of Strategy. Each of these is an integral part and is
necessary to the completion of the plan.
Bringing a team of six to ten people together and expecting to
develop from scratch a two to three page document is a daunting
task. It will save a lot of time if a draft proposal of a completed
Strategy Plan can be drafted prior to the planning sessions. This
may seem counter to having a team spend time developing a plan but
in reality it can save a lot of time. This can be accomplished by
assigning the Strategy Manager and the Process Facilitator the task
of creating a draft. Provided that they have enough experience and
depth of understanding of the company and how it operates, they
will be able to write a plan that can act as a starting point for
the remainder of the planning process. More than likely, the
finished plan developed by the entire team will diverge widely from
the original draft. That is just fine, the purpose of the draft is
to create just a sense of content and layout that will serve to
stimulate further creative thinking while helping the team members
to not get bogged down in issues of format.
The Mission Statement is one of two key components, the other being
the Vision Statement, upon which the balance of the Strategy Plan is
based. The Mission Statement needs to convey two ideas, "why are we
here," and "what are we supposed to be doing?" In other words, a
definition of the company and its business. The Mission Statement
should be short and concise, containing a maximum of two to three
sentences. Some examples might be:
• We are in the business for the long term, manufacturing and
selling high quality furniture products. We provide superior service
value and service for our dealers and the consumer.
• Our business is to manufacture and sell high quality
Ready—to—Assemble furniture products that create a superior value
for our customers.
The Vision Statement is designed to paint a picture of the company
in the future. The two key points that it should define are, "where
are we going," and "what will we look like when we get there?" It
too should be short, concise and contain no more than two or three
sentences. It must communicate long term goals. Some examples might
• We will be the leader in our market by focusing on strategies that
achieve customer satisfaction. We will improve our resource
utilization, be committed to empowering our employees, and subscribe
to continually improving our processes.
• We will continue to be the leader in our market niche. We will
maintain this leadership and our high level of service to our
customers through diversification into alternate species and product
categories and through the implementation of continuous improvement
To be continued