9 Strategy Meeting Tips From Business Experts
We’ve spoken regularly about how to run effective strategy review meetings and the importance of communicating your strategy well. But we know that there are many people out there who have mastered the art of the strategy review meeting, and we wanted you to be able to hear their tips and tricks, as well!
1. “A mediocre strategy with great execution still has the promise of delivering value.”
“Given that ‘Strategy is a Hypothesis’ based on the best information available, what is true is that things will become more clear over time with more information…a corollary is that regardless of the rigor of the strategic analysis and planning, things will change. That’s why the strategy review meeting—a forum that allows leaders to monitor and test the strategy—is of critical importance.
“The periodic monthly or quarterly review of the strategic plan—reviewing whether the organization is ‘doing what it said was important’, as well as, ‘testing if the things you thought were important are truly important’—is critical to learning and adapting the strategy to meet the competitive challenges ahead. Don’t waste the time and effort committed in the planning stage with an execution plan that does not provide a means to learn and adapt.”
Mario A. Bognanno, Managing Director at Balanced Strategy Group
2. “Always plan your strategy meeting out in advance by creating a detailed outline that will keep you on task.”
“Be sure to share this plan with your team so that they can be fully prepared and focused on the agenda. This is the best way to prevent your meeting from getting derailed by extraneous topics or concerns.”
Bill Rinaldi, CEO of Mark Construction
3. “Come in with an open mind and a thick skin.”
“Guess what? You, your ideas, your team and even your company will be criticized—even if you’ve been performing extremely well. Leaving morally discouraged happens to a wide variety of people, from C-level executives to interns. Yet, this is what the strategy review entails. If you’re able to walk out of that meeting with your head held high and with an attitude that exudes motivation, then you’ve won.
“When we integrated this at Dupray, the consequences were outstanding. Employees felt closer together. Even better, they were all motivated by the fact that the criticism that they received wasn’t personal. But, they did feel like it was incumbent upon them to fix it or get better. Structuring these meetings really depends on the where, who, what and why. We structure our meetings using the ‘Sticky Band-Aid’ approach. We rip the band-aid off. Everyone hears the criticism and bad news right away. We then transition to the brainstorm stage (where we figure out how to fix our problems), and finally, the execution stage.”
Matthew Mercuri, Director of Marketing at DUPRAY Inc.
4. “Have a time-bound agenda focused on solving problems.”
“Putting together a great strategy session requires a few key elements: the right stakeholders, an agenda focused on solving high-impact business problems and/or examining new opportunities. Effective strategy sessions shouldn’t be about building a laundry list of goals and wishes but instead an opportunity to get a bunch of smart folks together in order to solve tough problems or figure out ways to capitalize on new opportunities.”
Tom Skypek, Co-Founder and CEO of GovBizConnect
5. “Have the team prepare in advance by reviewing the current strategy.”
“What projects or tactics supported the particular strategy? What worked, what didn’t? Use qualitative measures as well as quantitative. Did this affect our bottom line profits as a company? Did this help us attract new industry segments? Did this help us engage more with our clients and employees? Is this a strategy that we should continue to use? I think a lot of companies think they need to come up with new strategies all of the time, but the truth is that failure was with execution, not strategy.”
Jennifer Garcia, Partner and CEO at Red Bamboo Marketing
6. “Involve the entire group.”
“Strategy reviews should not just be about reviewing what you, as a leader, think should be done. You should be involved, be directive and come with ideas, but your team members should do the same. Encourage your entire team to engage by asking them to bring forth strategies and also to evaluate progress on other strategies. Certainly, action does not need to be taken on all suggestions, but opening up the meetings to strong feedback from select, valued team members is a wise business growth idea. It’s a great way to include everyone, to involve your team and to make for more, effective, engaging discussions. Further, it is critical to regularly assess and evaluate the success of the strategies and provide feedback to your team members as well.”
Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation
7. “Drive engagement and commitment through participation.”
“It is tempting (and even easier) to outsource Balanced Scorecard reporting to a highly qualified core team. But let the owners of the objectives and initiatives present their own information; this will drive ownership, commitment, quality, and depth of information.”
Laura Downing, Principal at Mission Vector
8. “Don’t let organizational hierarchy and rank stymie discussion.”
“Do what you can to have the stakeholders leave their rank and titles at the door. You want the brightest minds at the table who are action-oriented and will drive a spirited, thoughtful debate—regardless of seniority. If your best person on X topic is a twenty-something, then they should be in the room sharing their knowledge and contributing.”
Tom Skypek, Co-Founder and CEO of GovBizConnect
9. “Ask two critical questions: ‘What is working well?’ and ‘What could be working better?’”
“Leaders need the courage to facilitate a candid conversation and balance the polarity of moving forward while cleaning up the dirt. All of my clients integrate this advice, and the benefit is they no longer sweep issues or challenges under the rug. They have a productive and powerful method to talk it through and take action towards progress.”
Kristi Daniels, Executive Coach and Founder of Work Can Be Different