Holding a strategy offsite is like going to the dentist.
Doing it regularly should prevent unexpected pain and discomfort.
But going to the dentist is something that can be avoided. Why do it when everything’s going well, when it’s not necessary?
After all, a visit to the dentist can result in discomfort or even end badly.
It’s the same thing with a planning meeting.
It’s uncomfortable when, for example, people don’t want to get behind the business owner’s ‘stretch’ goals. And most people can look back on an offsite they attended and wonder why they bothered – because nothing changed.
So here are some things we’ve learned to ensure strategy offsites deliver results.
1. Before the meeting
Set a realistic goal.
I ask clients to imagine we’re packing up after the last day of the offsite, and they’re feeling really good about what has been achieved.
Then I ask them what has to have happened for them to be feeling that way.
Sometimes, after they reply, we have to use our experience to illustrate what can, and can’t, be achieved in 1 or 2 days.
Distribute pre-work before the strategy offsite to maximize productivity in the time spent face-to-face. Any thinking that can be done in advance should be and any information required to make decisions should be distributed and studied.
2. During the offsite
Keep people focused by:
• Announcing times for coffee and lunch breaks and insisting email and calls are dealt with then.
• Using a ‘parking lot’ to record topics that are important, but not immediately relevant. Clear it at the end of each day.
Relieve the intensity of the discussions by using brainteasers and humorous video clips. Vary the pace, and make sure everyone’s thoughts are heard, by using sub-groups for some sessions.
Our process ends with the development of specific, measurable, time-related action plans to solve the problem that was the focus of the offsite. Appoint Champions to coordinate the completion of the Plans.
This way everyone leaves with a sense of accomplishment and a clear plan of action.
3. After the meeting
Capitalize on the momentum by holding regular, structured follow-up meetings.
Get everyone together at least once a quarter. Each Champion gives a progress report on his or her Action Plan and adjustments are made if necessary.
Take these tips and you’ll get results from your strategy offsites.
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Jim Stewart is the founding Partner at ProfitPATH. He has been working with business owners for over 16 years to increase profits and improve the value of their companies. LinkedIn