Posts Tagged ‘planning meeting’

6 Tips For A Better Planning Meeting

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

We’re well into the fourth quarter, and many business owners are either arranging, or already holding, their annual planning meetings.For better planning meetings, implement these 6 tips

The web is buzzing with blog posts and articles offering timely advice.

One post has a list of questions that simply must be asked. Another talks about ways to make strategic planning relevant. And a third offers tips for better strategic planning.

Who has time to read them all?

So let me summarize what I think are some useful, practical points.

1.  Ask your team 2 questions:

o  First ask why your customers choose to do business with you. Listen to the answers. Are they all the same? If not, what does that suggest?

o  Then ask how you differ from your top 3 competitors. Follow up by asking if you are recognized for it. If yes, how? If no, why not?

2.  Initiate creative discontent. Even when things are going well – particularly when things are going well – you should create discomfort with the status quo. Ask questions that shake up the existing order. For example, what will we do if we lose 3 key employees tomorrow?

3.  Challenge orthodoxies – the things we’ve always believed to be true. If Howard Schultz hadn’t challenged the conventional wisdom that consumers wouldn’t pay more than $2 for a cup of coffee, Starbucks wouldn’t exist.

4.  Use controlled tests to validate assumptions. Most assumptions are based on things we’ve read or heard. At best they’re an informed guess. So, rather than bet the farm on that, appoint someone to run a limited scale field test to check the assumption out in the real world.

5.  Ban fuzzy language. Here are some examples of “planning speak”. Phrases like “Leverage our World Class Operating Capabilities” or “Reshape Our Pricing Strategy to Effectively Drive Demand” are completely meaningless.  As are words like “leverage”, “synergy” and “robust”. Ban them all.

6.  Ask other provocative questions. The point of a planning session is to get different points of view out in the open so that they can be vigorously discussed. So ask, for example, “What are the top 2 or 3 things that must go right for this strategy to work?” and “If we pursue this strategy, what are we deciding not to do?”

A final thought. If you intend to really challenge your team you have to listen carefully to what is being said and respond quickly. You can’t do that while worrying about the next step in the process; whether or not you’re running on time; and if all of the participants are engaged and participating.

Use a trained facilitator to do that for you. It’s what we do.

You can find the full posts from which I extracted these points here, here and here.


If you enjoyed this post you’ll also enjoy It’s THAT Time of Year Again…….

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