Strategic Planning: those two words can cause groans, sighs and rolling eyes.
Some run screaming from the room when they discover it’s strategic planning time!
Nine Strategic Planning Ground Rules
Regardless your thoughts about strategic planning, here are nine ground rules to help your team maneuver the minefields and complex paths. Establishing these ground rules will keep you from grinding to a halt.
1. Nostalgic times should be reserved for retirement villages.
History has a time and place. Recalling the good-old-days wastes time and distracts from a future oriented process. Replace “Remember when” and “I wish we could do ______________ like we used to” for “What’s next?”
2. Groundhog Day has past. Park it!
Park ideas and challenges that are off task and don’t revisit them again during this session.
3. Sacred cows make the best hamburgers.
A sacred cow is a person, committee, process, program or service that for some reason is immune from criticism. Review your committees, councils and task forces. Are any of them sacred cows that can’t be eliminated even though they’ve outlived their purpose and service? When a discussion is to be open and honest, there is little benefit to protecting the organization’s sacred cows.
4. Games belong on the playground.
Games belong on the playground, not the board or committee room. Develop an agenda of what needs to happen. Leave the games, group hugs, and ad nauseam rewrites on the playground.
5. There’s an elephant in the room and its name is (fill in the blank).
To encourage frank, honest, open discussion, it is sometimes necessary to include topics that are important yet avoided because of embarrassment, culture or fear of retribution. No one should feel uncomfortable or frowned upon for discussing the elephant in the room.
6. War stories belong in books, films and war rooms.
Be present, here and now. Avoid sharing war stories of past conflicts or in-fighting. The battle is not with others. The crusade is to prepare for the future.
7. Plans should not collect dust.
The intent of strategic planning is to create a dynamic roadmap to guide the organization in the coming years. It should not be shelved, forgotten and collecting dust after the planning session.
8. Respect is more than a seven letter word.
The planning session is different than typical board and committee meetings. Everyone should be encouraged to offer creative ideas. Embrace diverse opinions and remember respect for people and ideas. Attack challenges, not each other!
9. Get out of the weeds and into the sky.
Strategic thinking improves the higher you fly. The birds-eye-view is necessary for developing goals.
What other ground rules would you add to this list? What causes strategic planning sessions to become duds?
Thanks to Bob Harris, CAE and the Midwest Institute Class 3-1 for sharing the foundation for some of these rules.