planning session

Get Your House in Order

  1. September 20th, 2011  | 

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Published in Strategic Planning

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.â€
~ Plato (BC 427-BC 347)

You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint. Why would you build your business without a written plan?

Properly conceived and carried out, planning can enhance any organization’s effectiveness. The paradox of planning is that the very act of preparing a plan will help you and your team pinpoint significant opportunities for increased effectiveness and profitability – even though the chances are good you won’t implement the plan you developed. From the most basic considerations like new accounting services, to the big picture of expansion and growth, whatever you need to plan for can be done during a short, intensive planning session.

Let’s face it. The thought of strategic planning can seem daunting, time-consuming, and even overwhelming. However, breaking it down into manageable chunks can make the process seem a little easier. Consider the three phases of planning:

  • Preparing for the planning session.
  • Conducting the planning session
  • Implementing the plan and tracking accountability

5 Questions to Ask Before You Start

To get started, here are five key questions to ask and answer. These are the first five of 12 essential questions to ask yourself as a business leader before you even begin the planning process. Consult my book Lead the Way for more on pre-planning and planning guidelines-Chapter 5, “Getting Ready to Plan.â€

  1. When should I plan?
    The best time to plan in the fourth quarter of your fiscal year. Schedule two back-to-back days, and give people enough notice to clear their calendars.
  2. Who should lead the process?
    Hire an experienced, objective facilitator to organize and lead your two-day planning session. You don’t perform surgery on yourself. Planning is like surgery without anesthesia.
  3. What do I want to accomplish? What issues do you want to explore that will help you increase your company’s performance? What topics are off the table?
  4. Who should attend?
    Most planning session involve as few as three and as many as 20 leaders. Think carefully about who should attend and why.
  5. How much time should it take?
    There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Commit at least two eight-hour days to develop your written plan.

Build your business on the strong foundation of a written plan.

About the Author: Greg Bustin advises some of the world’s most admired companies and leaders, and he’s dedicated a career to working with CEOs and the leadership teams of hundreds of companies in a range of industries. He’s facilitated more than 250 strategic planning sessions, he’s delivered more than 600 keynotes and workshops on every continent except Antarctica, and he coaches leaders who are inspired to take their career to the next level. His fourth leadership book— Accountability: The Key to Driving a High-Performance Culture (McGraw-Hill) —is a Soundview Executive Best Business Book.

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