I facilitate a lot of partner strategic planning retreats. Yes, it is often like herding cats.
I find that some firms are disciplined about their retreats. They have 100% attendance, they stay focused on the agenda topics and everyone participates. They stay away from the day-to-day. I also find that some firms struggle even with these simple concepts.
If you are planning a strategic planning session this year, here are a few reminders:
Set the strategic planning meeting or retreat dates with plenty of advance notice and get a firm commitment from stakeholders to attend.
Plan the agenda carefully to make sure you are using the time wisely.
Send out the agenda and other special readings well before the meeting date so that attendees can be informed and prepared.
Expectations matter. Clarify expectations in advance of the meeting and again at the start of the session.
Logistic details are very important. Make sure everything is in place and confirmed so that valuable time is not wasted.
Begin and end on time. If a topic needs further discussion, ask permission to extend the discussion time.
After the session, summarize the discussions and document action items. Send these to participants in a timely manner.
The most important step…. don’t procrastinate with the implementation of the agreed-upon action steps.