13 Features of a Meaningful Strategy Meeting

As the year is drawing to a close it’s time to arrange your annual strategy meeting.

A strategy meeting is an investment in positive future business performance. It is about clarifying with your team what the goals of the business are and setting out a plan for reaching those goals.

Some of the things you might discuss at a strategy meeting are:

    1. What does market research suggest for the future of your business? Is there sufficient demand for your product in the current market and is that likely to change in the future? Are new products/services being developed that might replace your products/services? What are the strategies the competition is using?
    2. What level of marketing investment and sales activity is required to meet your targets for the business?
    3. What threats exist or may develop that could prevent your business from achieving it’s goals and does this give you insight into opportunities to reduce those threats? Consider the level of market competition, product/service development, trading restrictions or limitations due to COVID-19 etc.
    4. Are there any internal factors that may hold your business back? How can these be mitigated? Are there sufficient resources, finance and appropriate, well functioning systems to support your team to achieve the goals set?

So how do you go about having a strategy meeting?
Below we have listed 13 features of a meaningful strategy meeting. Used together, these will help you maximise the benefits of your strategy session.

      1: Involve your whole team
      Don’t just leave strategy to your senior staff and management team. It is the actions of every single member of your team that will determine whether you achieve your goals or not. Including everyone brings in unity, sends the message that ‘we are all in this together’ and promotes participation in goal achievement.

      2: Go offsite
      Stay onsite at your peril. Distractions will sap energy from attendees and may end up hi-jacking your meeting. It’s too easy to just attend to business as usual. Transfer your phones to an answering service (we’ve found Answer Precise does a great job) and set up your email accounts with an auto-reply for the day. Ask for all mobiles to be on silent and only check them during breaks. Arrange for lunch and snacks to be catered.

      We realise going offsite at the moment may not be an option for everyone, due to varying COVID restrictions and precautions. However, it remains important that you minimise disruptions for your attendees so they can remain focused on the meeting, contribute where appropriate and commit to supporting the overall plan. How you achieve this is up to you. You might choose to hold an online meeting but still engage support to cover customer facing roles for the day. If you do commit to a face-to-face event, ensure your plans comply with any applicable restrictions and follow best practices for COVID prevention.

      3: Every quarter
      We recommend you hold a strategy meeting each quarter. This keeps staff involved and attuned to the strategy. It’s also a good interval to report back on goal progress and distribute any rewards earnt.

      If you limit your business to an annual strategy meeting, then make sure you have a robust structure for regular meetings in-house to keep the goals moving. Otherwise you’ll finish each year remembering the things you wanted to achieve instead of celebrating the things you did achieve.

      4: It’s a day job
      You should set aside a whole day for the final strategy meeting of the year. This is because you are looking to set goals for the following year and checking in on the foundations of your strategy:

          • Your Mission, Vision and Values
          • Your SWOT analysis.

      The other quarterly meetings could be limited to just half a day, but be careful not to do so at the expense of creativity that you would otherwise never see.

      What do we do ourselves? We commit a full day for quarterly meetings because it gives us an opportunity to drill into problems and find opportunities we don’t otherwise set aside time for in the standard day to day whirlwind of work. For example, we select one client and look at the types of issues we come across in completing their work and try to identify ways we can eliminate these issues.

      5: Revisit your Mission, Vision and Values
      Or Mission, Vision and Principles, as we prefer to call them, because a principle is a set standard, it is not subject to an individual sense in the same way as a value is.

      You should revisit your Mission, Vision and Values in the final (or first) strategy meeting each year.  Are they still appropriate? Are they driving your organisation? Do they form the foundations of your internal culture? What would you need to change to be living your Mission, Vision and Values?

      6: Revisit your SWOT analysis
      Are there new strengths, weaknesses, opportunities or threats? Have those previously listed changed or become irrelevant? Update your SWOT chart to match the current situation. You might find this resource helpful: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_05.htm.

      7: Share the stats
      You need to have enough information available at the meeting for staff to be able to understand what’s currently happening and what would be involved in taking things to the next level. You don’t want to lose momentum by having to withhold decisions until the information is available.

      This doesn’t mean you need to share all your financial data. Generally though, it would be helpful for staff to be informed of what is contributing to the Gross Profit percentage.

      8: Set your goals and objectives
      It’s really important to only set as many goals as you can reasonably complete. Consider the resources available and how much time can realistically be squeezed from the ‘day job’ for projects you are setting. If you set too many goals there is too much to do and too much to remember and not much will happen, meaning a depressing report in a future strategy meeting. That said, don’t use the ‘day job’ as an excuse for not doing things that will contribute to improving the future of the business.

      We suggest you:

      The 90 day and 12 month goals could be stepping points to achieving your BHAG, or they might take up an opportunity you identified when revisiting your SWOT analysis, or address a weakness that was uncovered. Each goal should have a clear objective, be easy to measure and have a clear link between actions your team can take and results – they should not be reliant on external factors coming to pass in order to be achieved.

      Medium or large businesses may be positioned to achieve more than two or three goals at a time – in this case, they can look to past records and monitor goal achievement until they find a sustainable, achievable number for themselves.

      9: Consider rewards for goal achievement
      Think about the financial impact achieving these goals would have on the profits of the business and consider sharing a percentage with staff if the goal is completed within the set time frame. You can commit to a reward only on full achievement of the goal, or you could choose to more closely acknowledge achievement by having goal and reward levels, so there is a lesser award if you just come short of the goal, a reward for achieving the actual goal or a higher reward if the goal is exceeded. Rewards could be tied to individual achievement or achievement of the team as a whole.

      10: Team building
      It’s a good idea to include some more light-hearted moments, especially as many teams have been working remotely for most of the year. Allow some time for the team to reconnect and engage in some team building exercises. The following sites have some good ideas for team building exercises:

      11: Distribute minutes
      Yes, someone needs to take minutes of the meeting. They do not have to be overly complex but they should document the decisions made, goals and targets committed to and any other action items. Forward a copy of the minutes and the action list to the whole team.

      12: Print your plan
      After the meeting create a large poster to show the Strategic Plan determined for the quarter. This should include:

        1. Your Mission, Vision and Values
        2. Your SWOT analysis
        3. Your BHAG
        4. Your project goals for 90 days and 1 year, along with any rewards set for achieving those goals
        5. Visual graphs or bars to help you track progress toward each goal.

      Have the poster professionally printed and place it on a prominent wall in your office.

      13: Act
      Start doing what you need to to achieve those targets and goals. Hold regular follow up sessions with relevant staff to keep projects moving until the next meeting.

Plan and set aside time for your strategy meeting now!

If you have any questions from this blog post we would be happy to discuss and may have some resources that could help you. Call us on 03 5339 3200 or contact us here.

Thanks for reading.

The information contained on this website has been provided as general advice only.  The contents have been prepared without taking account of your personal objectives, financial situation or needs.  You should, before you make any decision regarding any information, strategies or products mentioned on this website, consult your own financial advisor to consider whether that is appropriate having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.

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