By Todd Ballowe
Holding an Annual Strategic Planning Retreat

Since we here at OnStrategy just held our annual strategic planning retreat, I figured this would be a great chance to post about holding these retreats at your organization(s). We spend a lot of time helping businesses build and maintain their plans, but getting ready for our own (and my own first facilitation) gave me a chance to review what we teach ourselves. Here’s a quick rundown of what an annual retreat should focus on:

So You’ve Had a Strategic Plan in Place for at Least a Year, Now What?

The meeting rhythm should begin with an annual strategic planning session of at least two days in length. Ideally, you should hold this retreat at an offsite location. Although this isn’t necessary, it does help shut out distractions.  During this session, the team reviews how well they’re executing their business strategies and achieving the targets they set. The review process goes as follows:

1. Start with a review of the mission, vision, and values.
Make sure that these statements are current and still relevant to your organization.

2. Assess the long-term business assumptions and conduct a traditional SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis.
This step provides a current understanding of the marketplace and the true capabilities of your organization. More info on SWOT can be found in our archives.

3. Identify the long-term strategic objectives.
Quite often these stay the same for several years, with just a few modifications.  Your strategic objectives are the big mileposts on the way to your vision.

4. Set short-term goals and action items if possible.
Normally the team does not spend time in the details; instead, assign a goal to a team member who can then flesh out how it will get accomplished.

5. As the manager of the strategic plan, collect all of the work completed in this session and compile it into a final document.
Distribute copies of the compiled document, so everyone knows what they’re responsible for achieving.

I’ll post a recap of the facilitation here on the blog, but if you have any questions about the process please let us know!