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What’s Missing From Your Strategic Planning Session? | By Paul Miklautsch

Strategic Planning Sessions are exciting. This is a time to envision the future. Set the course for a new destination that challenges your people, brings new value to customers, and rewards the shareholders.

Have you ever attended a Strategic Planning Session that wasn’t effective or didn’t get to the root of the problems?  What’s missing in those Strategic Planning Sessions?

The biggest problem with strategic planning sessions is that there is no customer data to guide the conversation.

Instead, it becomes an internal discussion on where the executives feel they should go. They are the closest to the business so it’s obvious the choices they need to make.  But that is exactly the problem, as companies grow the executives are too close to the business that they may miss market trends, shifts in customer behaviors, or how technology may change their business. They become too internally focused and don’t take the time or energy to listen to customers’ feedback or examine external factors that may influence their business.

Businesses need a strategic focus

In 2019, I was asked to lead a strategic planning session. We had a few months to prepare and plan for the half-day offsite meeting with the Board of Directors. I knew their operations and the current challenges that they wanted to discuss, but it wasn’t clear to me how to prioritize efforts next year let alone over the next three years. In approaching this session my challenge was, "to use this time with their executives and board of directors to focus on the most important areas of the business."  

We decided the best way to prepare for the offsite meeting was to talk to their customers. This would give us a sense of how the business was performing today, but also allow us to anticipate short term needs. This would give us a strategic focus. 

ACG Board Retreat _ final (1)


Becoming hyper-focused on serving our customers. 

These conversations with customers allowed us to understand feedback on current products and services, clarify the value proposition of the organization, and identify areas that needed improvement.  This was invaluable. 

There were four major insights that were learned that focused the majority of the time at the strategic planning session. These four areas needed the board’s full attention. With these valuable customer insights, the board was able to quickly discuss meaningful topics that would change the course of their business. This affected the priorities for the next twelve months and provided clarity on objectives, measures, and accountability. 

Don’t waste your executives or board of directors’ time without bringing customer data to your next strategic planning sessions. 

Examples of valuable insights to bring to a Strategic Planning session:

  • Product Portfolio Performance
  • Market Segment Performance
  • Customer Sales Performance
  • Geographic Sales Performance
  • Voice of the Customer 
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Market Trend Reports
  • Competitive Landscape
  • Technology Landscape

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By Paul Miklautsch - January 07, 2020

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