Sometimes Planning Needs to be Less Structured

By Heyden Enochson

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Sometimes Planning Needs to be Less Structured

As planning facilitators, we’re often the ones keeping the meeting structured, timely, and on-pace to accomplish our client’s goals. And while that is certainly valuable in strategic planning, we were recently reminded that sometimes planning session and retreats need to be a bit looser to fit the needs of an organization.

We recently traveled to Orlando, Florida, to conduct an onsite planning session with Fairwinds Credit Union. They’re a team of high-achieving individuals whose day-to-day operations move quickly, and schedules are full. So, we worked with their strategy leader to develop a planning retreat agenda and schedule that gave their team some airtime to connect with their strategic plan, have thoughtful conversations about how they’ve done, where they are going, and what the continued focus should be.

As a strategy leader, you can consider taking Fairwind’s approach to structuring your strategy review sessions. Here are a few quick tips:

  • Create a loose agenda – It’s ok to leave the agenda a little loose to have deeper conversations. However, having a loose agenda doesn’t equate to not having one at all!
  • Be flexible – If a conversation is deep and strategic, be flexible with your agenda so it can continue. Move things around as needed.
  • Still have grounded outcomes – It’s important you still enter this planning session with grounded outcomes. Just because your session is more free-flowing doesn’t mean you shouldn’t accomplish a set of objectives.


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