It’s that time of year for your team’s annual strategic planning meeting. While incredibly important, many of your team members likely dread strategic planning meetings because of a few common challenges. Let’s see which ones plague your team through a quick round of “Have you ever?” 

Have you ever…

  • Spent more time wordsmithing than actually planning in the meeting?
  • Been enticed down a rabbit trail, only to realize you spent 80% of the meeting on 5% of the team’s goals?
  • Set brilliant goals, then forgotten about them until next year’s planning meeting? 
  • Felt so drained by the meeting that your brain could hardly retain what was discussed? 

Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. Continue reading or download your copy of the comprehensive “Strategic Planning Simplified” guide for step-by-step instructions and corresponding editable templates.

We often overcomplicate strategic planning. Perhaps we think a complex process leads to more sophisticated results. In reality, a planning process that’s too complex results in lower execution rates. Simple is better. A clean and easy process drives the ownership, clarity, and action you want from your team.

There are many stellar frameworks out there. I’ll share one that we used on my team at Boeing that worked amazingly well for a team with numerous divisions and programs: horizon charts. They are simple, easy to update, even easier to interpret, and faciliate a balanced focus on near- and long-term goals.

Follow this simple process to drive thoughtful reflection, ambitious planning, and productive discussion:

1. Prework: Before the all-team planning meeting, each individual program, division, or sub-team is responsible completing prework. Intentional prework is the key to driving a meaningful, engaging strategic plannign meeting—one that informs and excites the team.

Celebrate progress: Review prior year horizon chart and highlight all accomplishments. We want to see the power of planning in action!

Dream big and smart: Update program/division strategic plans and corresponding horizon charts for the coming year. Goals are set in three phases—adjust timeframes, as needed (but keep them consistent across the team).

Throw in some fun and creativity: Complete a “Year in Review” slide, noting highs and lows, lessons learned, lives impacted, new practices established, the year’s theme song, and more. Download the slide template here.

2. At the all–team strategic planning meeting: Program representatives take turns presenting horizon chart slides (prior year accomplishments, plus coming year) and “Year in Review” slides. 

3. Team discussion: After each report out, use the three qeustions below to facilitate further discussion and feedback. To engage all voices, provide a few minutes for individual or small group reflection on these before full-team discussion.

– What are you most excited about?

– What questions do you have?

– Is anything missing?

4. Review regularly: Establish a process to visit horizon chart progress every quarter.

That’s it. Horizon charts are like my current, basic coffee maker. We’ve tried investing in fancier machines over the years, but each time they break. They’re overcomplicated, make weaker coffee, and are unreliable. Strategic planning is the same. Stick with simple if you want consistent, strong results.

To make it extra simple and easy, download your copy of the “Strategic Planning Simplified” comprehensive guide now. It includes step-by-step instructions and corresponding templates.

Now go plan AND execute the best year yet with your team.


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