Rebel's Guide to Project Management

Your Strategy Planning Meeting Agenda (with Template)

Have you been asked to pull together a strategy planning meeting agenda? And you’re wondering what other people do in their strategic planning sessions… I’ve been there!

In this article, I’ll explain what a strategic planning meeting can cover and share a sample agenda you can customize for your strategy sessions.

Strategy planning doesn’t just happen. You can’t put people in a room and expect there to be a 3-year plan at the end of it. The conversations need a structure to help keep the pace and ensure the meeting runs smoothly. And that’s where the agenda comes in, as part of your pre-meeting prep.

What should a strategic planning meeting include?

A strategic planning meeting should include:

  • A review of organizational objectives
  • An assessment of how you are doing against those objectives
  • Decisions around what needs to be sped up, slowed down, started or stopped in order to better align activity with the objectives.

If you think about the point of having a strategy discussion, it’s really to either define the strategy or to decide if you are on track with delivering the strategy . What you need to include in the meeting has to tie back to those points.

In other words, what do you want to get out of your strategic planning process? Is it a new strategic plan? An update to the last one because something drastic has changed? A review with some ‘light editing’ to ensure decisions are being taken that keep you on track to meet your goals?

What goes into your meeting (and therefore, your agenda) will very much depend on where you are in the strategy planning cycle.

When do strategic meetings happen?

There’s no fixed cadence for strategy conversations. Some businesses use quarterly meetings. Some might do a lot of planning during the existing structure of board meetings. As long as sufficient time is put aside for strategic thinking, you can set whatever frequency of meeting you like.

I would recommend quarterly review sessions, with a longer goal-setting session once a year, but do whatever works for you. If you are putting together your first strategy or doing a complete overhaul, you’ll need to spend a lot more time on it to get the strategic process set up and the relevant data collected.

cartoon of people standing next to an agenda

Planning a successful virtual strategy meeting

Strategy meetings tend to be quite long. You might put a full day or even two aside for your planning, perhaps another full day the following week for the follow up.

For that reason, it’s often better to do them in-person instead of remote, but do what works best for you and the team.

Personally I would prefer to meet in person as in my experience you get better engagement with the process.

If you have to hold the workshop remotely, with people dialling in, make sure you schedule enough screen breaks. I put a break in at least after every 90 minutes — people just can’t focus for that long.

You can also use breakout rooms to set people up to work in small groups (in person or remotely using your collaboration software) so they can interact more easily.

Sample strategy planning meeting agenda template

Every effective meeting needs an agenda, and the great thing about strategic sessions is that you can tailor the agenda to cover the topics that would be the most valuable to wherever you are in the planning cycle. The strategic planning agenda below assumes you are meeting in-person, and is suitable for a strategic review session.

9.30am: Welcome

Use this time for introductions. Do an ice breaker exercise if your attendees won’t think it is cheesy (mine would).

I start by sharing the meeting objectives and making it clear this is a strategic meeting so people don’t get carried away with the detail. Discuss ways of working e.g. who is capturing what actions, what you’ll do if there is a stalemate for a decision, what decision-making tools you are using.

You might want to introduce ground rules for the session such as

  • No taking calls in the room
  • Take space, make space
  • Share your experience

etc. I think my delegates would find this a little patronizing as they have all worked together for many years, but I can also see that there would be circumstances in which it is appropriate to refresh expectations.

If you think they would value having some guardrails for acceptable behavior during the conversations, then by all means add time for that into the agenda at this point.

10am: Big picture strategy

Present the overall roadmap, for example, a timeline for the 5 year plan. Make sure everyone is clear on where the organization is going and what big chunks make that up. For example, perhaps you have a couple of different portfolios that support the strategy.

You can use this time to talk about the current situation, the company’s strategy and how your department fits into that. This section should answer the question: where are we now?

Meetings template bundle contents

10.30am: Coffee break

Give people time for a bathroom break and to get something to drink. Bonus points if you provide the coffee!

10.45am: Progress review

Have each executive or leader in the room share their area’s progress against their area of the strategic plan. They can bring in team members to present specific topics if that would help, and if their expertise is needed as part of the debate.

These presentations don’t necessarily need to be formal, but they should cover what objectives the department is working to, how they link to the big picture strategy and whether they are on track. Talk about whether milestones are on track to be hit. Present the budget figures related to the area and the confidence levels around meeting those.

This section of the agenda might be long, depending on how many leaders you have to get round, so adjust the rest of the agenda to fit your timings. I’d suggest everyone gets 30 minutes but it depends on what you think they have to share and how much discussion there will be about each area. If possible, timebox the updates so you keep the meeting moving.

Alternative session: Where do we want to be?

If you haven’t got strategic progress to report, use this time to:

  • Brainstorm where you want to be
  • Agree where you are going
  • Create a vision for the next 3 years
  • Document the vision and mission.

12.45pm: Lunch break

Schedule in some time to eat and return calls. I think people get back to the meeting more quickly if you provide lunch in the room.

1.30pm: Key issues

It’s worth parking the discussion of any major issues that affect multiple areas until after everyone has had a chance to present their updates, because then it’s easier to see the bigger picture and what might be affected.

Use this time to review anything that dropped out of the morning’s conversations. There might be new opportunities, challenges, resource constraints, market changes and more.

This section of your day should answer the question: what might stop us from getting where we want to go? Think about the values, skills, culture and risks that might block your progress.

2.30pm: Revise plans

After you’ve discussed the challenges or opportunities that present themselves, go back to the plans and see how that information affects what you are committing to do for the next period.

Agree changes as required. This part of your agenda answers the question: what do we need to do? If you do need to do anything differently in order to get back on track or head off in the right direction, this is where you should be discussing and agreeing.

3.30pm: Action planning

I like action planning! Strategy meetings should be all about decision-making, so you should ring-fence some time to talk about how to turn those decisions into action items . List out what needs to be done and allocate owners and timescales to each.

One thing that should definitely be on the action list is how you are going to communicate the decisions made today to everyone else in the team. Add them to the decision log . Make sure someone is responsible for creating and circulating meeting minutes .

This is an important part of the strategy meeting and it answers the question: how will we do it?

4.30pm: Any Other Business

Use this time for the ‘one last thing’ that people want to bring up. If you’ve had a parking lot up on the wall, check that all the topics have follow up actions planned so the conversations can continue outside of the room.

5pm: Wrap up and close

Finally, wrap up the meeting, draw it to a close and if you are going to meet again, put the date in the diary. Then go down the pub!

Tailoring the strategy agenda

As you’ve probably realized, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy meeting agenda that will suit every need. If you are starting from scratch and are using the time to write your strategy, you’ll need to put time aside for brainstorming new ideas, a presentation of market research analysis or feedback from customer focus groups.

If you are reviewing the projects that make up the strategy, you might bring each project manager in to present their project, before discussing as a team what initiatives need to be brought into the portfolio to ensure the strategic goals can be met.

The important thing is to always go back to the why: why are you meeting and what do you want to get out of the time? You can’t go wrong if you start there.

5 Considerations for a strategy planning workshop

So you’re ready to draw up that meeting agenda. Here’s what to consider before you get going.

1. Set the objective

I like to write the objective for any meeting at the top of the agenda. It helps focus people’s minds and keeps the conversation on track. Think about what you are meeting for and what the leadership teams are expecting to get out of it. Here are some examples:

  • To define the 5-year growth plan for the organization
  • To establish the projects we want to focus on to meet our strategic goals for the next 12 months
  • To review the new products we intend to bring to market in the next 3 years
  • To set the IT agenda for the next 24 months

You can hold strategic planning workshops for departments, teams or for the business overall. You can plan for the long term or adopt a rolling wave planning approach to plan ongoing. So which is it for you?

2. Let people know what is going to happen

Set expectations for the meeting. Let people know what contributions are expected from them. What do they need to prep in advance? Ask them for their agenda items – you might not include them as ‘real’ agenda items but it would help to know what talking points they intend to bring up.

Share any papers, timelines, business cases, strategy documents etc that make useful background reading. The more ready people are to contribute, the more you will get done during the meeting.

3. Prepare for conflict

As the meeting facilitator, you’ll have a good idea of the topics that will come up. And the potential flashpoints. For example, there are always conversations about budget. Doing anything strategic seems to cost a lot, and investing in one area means another area doesn’t get the investment.

Try to spot any sources of potential disputes in advance so you have pre-meeting conversations to manage expectations and ensure everyone comes to the session with an open mind (and the data to support their case). Healthy debates are to be encouraged!

Think about how to resolve conflict as a team if you can’t get to consensus. There are several group decision-making techniques you could try. In my experience, it’s often the most senior person in the room who makes the final call – strategy is not always a team game. It might not feel fair, but there are often political, economic, commercial and environmental reasons for decisions that might not always be clear to everyone in the room.

Whatever you think the outcome might be, have a few phrases to help facilitate the debate if it seems attendees are getting stuck. For example:

“Ultimately, it’s Fiona’s decision. Fiona, what do you want us to do?” “Let’s continue this conversation for another 10 minutes and if we aren’t able to reach a decision at that point, I suggest that Henry and Priya book some time to review and come back to us with a recommendation next week.” “IT are the guardians of that process. Do you agree to that approach?”

4. Prepare to go off script

I’ve been in strat planning meetings where we started with an agenda and then went totally off script… and the output was all the better for it. It’s great to have an agenda, and the template above gives you a starting point, but if it feels like the right thing to do is to delve into a particular area, then do it.

Strategy is too important to shortcut. If it feels like the meeting is taking longer, just say: “This feels like an important topic. Is everyone OK with staying with it for a little longer?” or “That isn’t something we were going to cover today but it sounds like it’s important that we get into it. Does everyone agree?”

Talk about what needs to be talked about. Strategy work takes time. The agenda is there as a guide but sometimes you just need to get it all out on the table.

5. Define success

What would a successful meeting look like? Sometimes it’s going to be OK to just talk and debate until you get to the heart of your strategy. Other times you might want to go all in on a brainstorming session and success will look like 20 new ideas.

It might be that you want to gain agreement on three new projects or prepare an update to go to the next board meeting. Think about what would constitute a successful outcome and try to guide people towards that.

Your next steps

  • Agree the goals of your strategy meeting
  • Write the agenda
  • Socialize some of the ideas
  • Adequately prepare for the session so you feel ready to facilitate it

In this article you learned what to include in your strategy planning meeting agenda and what considerations go into planning a successful strategy workshop. Don’t forget to grab a free action log template to record all the good stuff that comes out of your meeting. I hope it goes really well for you!

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strategy planning meeting agenda

Project manager, author, mentor

Elizabeth Harrin is a Fellow of the Association for Project Management in the UK. She holds degrees from the University of York and Roehampton University, and several project management certifications including APM PMQ. She first took her PRINCE2 Practitioner exam in 2004 and has worked extensively in project delivery for over 20 years. Elizabeth is also the founder of the Project Management Rebels community, a mentoring group for professionals. She's written several books for project managers including Managing Multiple Projects .

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What You Must Do (and NEVER do) During Strategic Meetings

Verne Harnish

To successfully scale a business, you’ll need to do three things effectively: preparation, execution, and follow-through. This isn’t something that just happens by chance for the lucky few. In helping companies scale up over three decades, I’ve found that those who execute the 10 Rockefeller Habits to engage their team in proper strategic planning will almost always experience improved growth, revenue, and profits. So what is strategic planning, and how does one plan a strategic planning session? Who should be involved in these strategic meetings, and what would be the meeting agenda? How often should you be running these strategic planning meetings? I’ll cover these questions and more in this article by sharing with you the key lessons on strategic planning from my books, Scaling Up and Mastering the Rockefeller Habits.

What is Strategic Planning and What is its Purpose?

strategic thinking and strategic planning processes

  • Strategic thinking, and
  • Execution planning  

Each activity requires very different teams and processes. Strategic thinking requires a handful of senior leaders meeting weekly (it’s not sufficient to do strategy work once a quarter or once a year). Rather than getting mired in operational issues, the main purpose of the strategic thinking team is to focus on discussing a few big strategic issues. The purpose of execution planning, in turn, is to implement the broader strategy. This requires the engagement of a much larger team. Some of the goals of execution planning include setting specific annual and quarterly priorities, outcomes, and KPIs. Add in both disciplined action and active learning activities and you have a simple Think, Plan, Act, Learn cycle of strategic planning. 

The cycle of strategic planning

It has been said that the shortest distance between two points is clarity , and this strategic planning cycle brings about clarity. With clarity, your organization knows exactly what to do, and how to do it, in order to get the results to achieve your goals. The next question is, how do you create an environment that supports a consistent strategic planning cycle of Think, Plan, Act, Learn? The answer lies in communication rhythms.

Creating the Communication Rhythms that Support Strategic Planning

Communication rhythms are the third habit in the 10 Rockefeller Habits checklist .

By establishing a communication rhythm, you’ll ensure that information moves through your organization accurately and quickly. The key is an effective daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual Meeting Rhythm. When executed properly, this actually saves everyone a tremendous amount of time. It’s counterintuitive, I know. But communication will become much more open and smooth, and your team will gain clarity and feedback from these strategic meetings. Here’s a breakdown of the strategic meetings you should be having to support the strategic planning cycle in your company:

  • Daily Huddle : All employees are in a daily huddle that lasts 5 - 15 minutes to track progress and bring out sticking points that are blocking your execution.
  • Weekly Meeting : All teams have a weekly meeting that lasts 60 - 90 minutes to review progress on the quarterly priorities and address one or two main topics.
  • Monthly Management Meeting : The executive managers meet for half a day or a full day of learning and resolving big issues.

team_alignment_4

For daily huddles, my advice is to have it at the same time, every day. It doesn’t have to be at the beginning of the day. Choose whatever time best fits the rhythm of your business, and make sure you always start the meeting on time, whether everyone is present or not. Weekly meetings should also be at the same time and place each week. Ideally, weekly meetings will end right before lunch or happy hour so executives can have a more informal setting in which to discuss issues that surface during the structured part of the meetings. Click on the following links if you’d like to know more about how to run daily huddles and weekly meetings . Below, I’ll be sharing the specific agendas to run in your strategic monthly and quarterly meetings which involve your executive team and middle managers.

How Do You Effectively Run A Strategic Planning Meeting?

opsp_horizontalbannerv3-1

When it comes to the monthly and quarterly meetings, it’s best if a specific rhythm is established (i.e., the second Friday and Saturday before the end of the quarter). The annual planning session is normally two to three days, while the quarterly sessions are one to two days. The first third of each planning session (day one of the annual planning session; three hours of a quarterly session) is spent reviewing the SWOT (optional), and the first three columns of the One Page Strategic Plan (OPSP) . This includes reviewing your Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (BHAG) and also updating the Functional Accountability Chart (FACe) tool and focus on the one functional position that needs support. The next third (day two of the annual planning session; afternoon of the quarterly session) is spent on the 1-year column of the OPSP, including a review of the company’s financials and using the CASh and Power of One worksheets to focus on ways to improve cash flow. The final third (day three of the annual session; day two of the quarterly) is focused on completing the entire right-hand page of the OPSP. Review the Process Accountability Chart (PACe) tool and choose one process to design or redesign that supports achieving the Critical Number (#1 Priority). Last, review the Rockefeller Habits Checklist and choose one or two of the 10 habits to execute (or execute better) the next quarter.

Sample of A Strategic Meeting Agenda

Day 1 : 17:30 - 18:00 — Reception/arrival 18:00 - 20:00 — Dinner (Snacks in Europe) 20:00 - 22:00 — Opening Session — Review core values and purpose stories, SWT, and host open discussion about the future (continue into the night!). 22:00 - ? — Dinner in Europe Day 2 : 8:30 - 10:00 — Opening Remarks by CEO, Good News Stories/OPPPs, and Top 3 Issues (what will make this a successful meeting for everyone) 10:30 - 12:00 — SWOT, FACe, and review first three columns of OPSP 13:30 - 15:00 — Review Annual column of OPSP 15:30 - 17:00 — CASh and Power of One 18:00 - ? — Dinner, finish up what didn’t get completed earlier (further work on 7 Strata) Day 3 : (invite middle management) 8:30 - 10:00 — Review previous day, and complete Quarterly column OPSP 10:30 - Noon — PACe (review key process supporting Quarterly Critical Number), 13:30 - 15:00 — Establish column 6 Quarterly Theme (leave for middle management to design/ drive) and review the Rockefeller Habits Checklist. Choose one or two areas for improvement. 15:30 - 17:00 — Everyone updates their own column 7 — individual KPIs, Critical Number, and Priorities. Then go around the room and have everyone share their Critical Number (top 1 priority for the quarter).

Important Ground Rules for Strategic Planning

“ When I go slow, I go fast ” notes the Chinese proverb. There is a tendency in planning sessions to rush through or ignore the Strengths, Weaknesses, and Trends along the bottom of the OPSP and the first two or three columns of the OPSP (Core Values, Purpose, BHAG, Sandbox, and Brand Promises), especially after team members feel like they’ve nailed down the decisions in previous sessions. However, spending sufficient time reviewing and updating the SWT and first three columns almost always makes the decisions in the Annual and Quarterly columns come more quickly and effortlessly . Trust me on this! You should also resist jumping in and reviewing the past quarter or year (columns 4 and 5 of the OPSP) in detail at the beginning of the meeting. Once you open that Pandora’s Box, it’s hard to get it shut. Teams tend to get sucked right into the minutia, getting caught up in the details and making it difficult to step back from the trees and talk more strategic about the direction of the firm.

I also advise you to plan in advance the key topics and issues to discuss during your strategic planning meetings .

A few weeks prior to the planning offsite, conduct an employee survey. Employees’ insights are helpful in determining quarterly or annual priorities since they are closer to the customers and are immersed in the daily processes of the business. Many firms use an online survey tool such as SurveyMonkey to make it easier to administer. I suggest three simple questions:

102 (2) (2)

  • What should (enter company name) start doing?
  • What should (enter company name) stop doing?
  • What should (enter company name) keep doing?

Along with employee feedback, formally gather customer input. At a minimum, ask them the same three “start, stop, and keep” questions. Finally, send out an email to those attending the planning session to ask them to send back the top three issues they feel MUST be addressed, explored or answered at the upcoming strategy meetings for them to feel it was a success.” Compile these for review at the beginning of the strategy meeting or just prior.

Strategic Planning in Action

Here’s a case study of how strategic planning helped one organization scale up. 

From Running a Small Company to a $750 Million Division

jack harrington2

“Everyone is building trust and relationships,” he says. “It’s tremendous because you’re not just getting together to discuss operations. You’re discussing strategy and debating the market, and that really brings out incredible insight and power.” 

For a practical way to learn how to apply these concepts into your current business while getting mentorship, peer-to-peer feedback, and customized support as you implement, check out my Scaling Up Master Business Course here .

Ready to Implement Effective Strategic Planning?

To inspire you, here’s a sample completed One-Page Strategic Plan that can result from effective strategic planning. This sample is for a fictitious company called TestCo.

To learn the step-by-step on how to use it read The Ultimate Guide To Complete A One-Page.

All the best for your strategic planning process!

one page strategic plan example 1

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Why Is Strategic Planning Important?

Above view of team creating a strategic plan

  • 06 Oct 2020

Do you know what your organization’s strategy is? How much time do you dedicate to developing that strategy each month?

If your answers are on the low side, you’re not alone. According to research from Bridges Business Consultancy , 48 percent of leaders spend less than one day per month discussing strategy.

It’s no wonder, then, that 48 percent of all organizations fail to meet at least half of their strategic targets. Before an organization can reap the rewards of its business strategy, planning must take place to ensure its strategy remains agile and executable .

Here’s a look at what strategic planning is and how it can benefit your organization.

Access your free e-book today.

What Is Strategic Planning?

Strategic planning is the ongoing organizational process of using available knowledge to document a business's intended direction. This process is used to prioritize efforts, effectively allocate resources, align shareholders and employees on the organization’s goals, and ensure those goals are backed by data and sound reasoning.

It’s important to highlight that strategic planning is an ongoing process—not a one-time meeting. In the online course Disruptive Strategy , Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen notes that in a study of HBS graduates who started businesses, 93 percent of those with successful strategies evolved and pivoted away from their original strategic plans.

“Most people think of strategy as an event, but that’s not the way the world works,” Christensen says. “When we run into unanticipated opportunities and threats, we have to respond. Sometimes we respond successfully; sometimes we don’t. But most strategies develop through this process. More often than not, the strategy that leads to success emerges through a process that’s at work 24/7 in almost every industry.”

Strategic planning requires time, effort, and continual reassessment. Given the proper attention, it can set your business on the right track. Here are three benefits of strategic planning.

Related: 4 Ways to Develop Your Strategic Thinking Skills

Benefits of Strategic Planning

1. create one, forward-focused vision.

Strategy touches every employee and serves as an actionable way to reach your company’s goals.

One significant benefit of strategic planning is that it creates a single, forward-focused vision that can align your company and its shareholders. By making everyone aware of your company’s goals, how and why those goals were chosen, and what they can do to help reach them, you can create an increased sense of responsibility throughout your organization.

This can also have trickle-down effects. For instance, if a manager isn’t clear on your organization’s strategy or the reasoning used to craft it, they could make decisions on a team level that counteract its efforts. With one vision to unite around, everyone at your organization can act with a broader strategy in mind.

2. Draw Attention to Biases and Flaws in Reasoning

The decisions you make come with inherent bias. Taking part in the strategic planning process forces you to examine and explain why you’re making each decision and back it up with data, projections, or case studies, thus combatting your cognitive biases.

A few examples of cognitive biases are:

  • The recency effect: The tendency to select the option presented most recently because it’s fresh in your mind
  • Occam’s razor bias: The tendency to assume the most obvious decision to be the best decision
  • Inertia bias: The tendency to select options that allow you to think, feel, and act in familiar ways

One cognitive bias that may be more difficult to catch in the act is confirmation bias . When seeking to validate a particular viewpoint, it's the tendency to only pay attention to information that supports that viewpoint.

If you’re crafting a strategic plan for your organization and know which strategy you prefer, enlist others with differing views and opinions to help look for information that either proves or disproves the idea.

Combating biases in strategic decision-making requires effort and dedication from your entire team, and it can make your organization’s strategy that much stronger.

Related: 3 Group Decision-Making Techniques for Success

3. Track Progress Based on Strategic Goals

Having a strategic plan in place can enable you to track progress toward goals. When each department and team understands your company’s larger strategy, their progress can directly impact its success, creating a top-down approach to tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) .

By planning your company’s strategy and defining its goals, KPIs can be determined at the organizational level. These goals can then be extended to business units, departments, teams, and individuals. This ensures that every level of your organization is aligned and can positively impact your business’s KPIs and performance.

It’s important to remember that even though your strategy might be far-reaching and structured, it must remain agile. As Christensen asserts in Disruptive Strategy , a business’s strategy needs to evolve with the challenges and opportunities it encounters. Be prepared to pivot your KPIs as goals shift and communicate the reasons for change to your organization.

Which HBS Online Strategy Course is Right for You? | Download Your Free Flowchart

Improve Your Strategic Planning Skills

Strategic planning can benefit your organization’s vision, execution, and progress toward goals. If strategic planning is a skill you’d like to improve, online courses can provide the knowledge and techniques needed to lead your team and organization.

Strategy courses can range from primers on key concepts (such as Economics for Managers ), to deep-dives on strategy frameworks (such as Disruptive Strategy ), to coursework designed to help you strategize for a specific organizational goal (such as Sustainable Business Strategy ).

Learning how to craft an effective, compelling strategic plan can enable you to not only invest in your career but provide lasting value to your organization.

Do you want to formulate winning strategies for your organization? Explore our portfolio of online strategy courses and download the free flowchart to determine which is the best fit for you and your goals.

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About the Author

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What is strategic planning? A 5-step guide

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Strategic planning is a process through which business leaders map out their vision for their organization’s growth and how they’re going to get there. In this article, we'll guide you through the strategic planning process, including why it's important, the benefits and best practices, and five steps to get you from beginning to end.

Strategic planning is a process through which business leaders map out their vision for their organization’s growth and how they’re going to get there. The strategic planning process informs your organization’s decisions, growth, and goals.

Strategic planning helps you clearly define your company’s long-term objectives—and maps how your short-term goals and work will help you achieve them. This, in turn, gives you a clear sense of where your organization is going and allows you to ensure your teams are working on projects that make the most impact. Think of it this way—if your goals and objectives are your destination on a map, your strategic plan is your navigation system.

In this article, we walk you through the 5-step strategic planning process and show you how to get started developing your own strategic plan.

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What is strategic planning?

Strategic planning is a business process that helps you define and share the direction your company will take in the next three to five years. During the strategic planning process, stakeholders review and define the organization’s mission and goals, conduct competitive assessments, and identify company goals and objectives. The product of the planning cycle is a strategic plan, which is shared throughout the company.

What is a strategic plan?

[inline illustration] Strategic plan elements (infographic)

A strategic plan is the end result of the strategic planning process. At its most basic, it’s a tool used to define your organization’s goals and what actions you’ll take to achieve them.

Typically, your strategic plan should include: 

Your company’s mission statement

Your organizational goals, including your long-term goals and short-term, yearly objectives

Any plan of action, tactics, or approaches you plan to take to meet those goals

What are the benefits of strategic planning?

Strategic planning can help with goal setting and decision-making by allowing you to map out how your company will move toward your organization’s vision and mission statements in the next three to five years. Let’s circle back to our map metaphor. If you think of your company trajectory as a line on a map, a strategic plan can help you better quantify how you’ll get from point A (where you are now) to point B (where you want to be in a few years).

When you create and share a clear strategic plan with your team, you can:

Build a strong organizational culture by clearly defining and aligning on your organization’s mission, vision, and goals.

Align everyone around a shared purpose and ensure all departments and teams are working toward a common objective.

Proactively set objectives to help you get where you want to go and achieve desired outcomes.

Promote a long-term vision for your company rather than focusing primarily on short-term gains.

Ensure resources are allocated around the most high-impact priorities.

Define long-term goals and set shorter-term goals to support them.

Assess your current situation and identify any opportunities—or threats—allowing your organization to mitigate potential risks.

Create a proactive business culture that enables your organization to respond more swiftly to emerging market changes and opportunities.

What are the 5 steps in strategic planning?

The strategic planning process involves a structured methodology that guides the organization from vision to implementation. The strategic planning process starts with assembling a small, dedicated team of key strategic planners—typically five to 10 members—who will form the strategic planning, or management, committee. This team is responsible for gathering crucial information, guiding the development of the plan, and overseeing strategy execution.

Once you’ve established your management committee, you can get to work on the planning process. 

Step 1: Assess your current business strategy and business environment

Before you can define where you’re going, you first need to define where you are. Understanding the external environment, including market trends and competitive landscape, is crucial in the initial assessment phase of strategic planning.

To do this, your management committee should collect a variety of information from additional stakeholders, like employees and customers. In particular, plan to gather:

Relevant industry and market data to inform any market opportunities, as well as any potential upcoming threats in the near future.

Customer insights to understand what your customers want from your company—like product improvements or additional services.

Employee feedback that needs to be addressed—whether about the product, business practices, or the day-to-day company culture.

Consider different types of strategic planning tools and analytical techniques to gather this information, such as:

A balanced scorecard to help you evaluate four major elements of a business: learning and growth, business processes, customer satisfaction, and financial performance.

A SWOT analysis to help you assess both current and future potential for the business (you’ll return to this analysis periodically during the strategic planning process). 

To fill out each letter in the SWOT acronym, your management committee will answer a series of questions:

What does your organization currently do well?

What separates you from your competitors?

What are your most valuable internal resources?

What tangible assets do you have?

What is your biggest strength? 

Weaknesses:

What does your organization do poorly?

What do you currently lack (whether that’s a product, resource, or process)?

What do your competitors do better than you?

What, if any, limitations are holding your organization back?

What processes or products need improvement? 

Opportunities:

What opportunities does your organization have?

How can you leverage your unique company strengths?

Are there any trends that you can take advantage of?

How can you capitalize on marketing or press opportunities?

Is there an emerging need for your product or service? 

What emerging competitors should you keep an eye on?

Are there any weaknesses that expose your organization to risk?

Have you or could you experience negative press that could reduce market share?

Is there a chance of changing customer attitudes towards your company? 

Step 2: Identify your company’s goals and objectives

To begin strategy development, take into account your current position, which is where you are now. Then, draw inspiration from your vision, mission, and current position to identify and define your goals—these are your final destination. 

To develop your strategy, you’re essentially pulling out your compass and asking, “Where are we going next?” “What’s the ideal future state of this company?” This can help you figure out which path you need to take to get there.

During this phase of the planning process, take inspiration from important company documents, such as:

Your mission statement, to understand how you can continue moving towards your organization’s core purpose.

Your vision statement, to clarify how your strategic plan fits into your long-term vision.

Your company values, to guide you towards what matters most towards your company.

Your competitive advantages, to understand what unique benefit you offer to the market.

Your long-term goals, to track where you want to be in five or 10 years.

Your financial forecast and projection, to understand where you expect your financials to be in the next three years, what your expected cash flow is, and what new opportunities you will likely be able to invest in.

Step 3: Develop your strategic plan and determine performance metrics

Now that you understand where you are and where you want to go, it’s time to put pen to paper. Take your current business position and strategy into account, as well as your organization’s goals and objectives, and build out a strategic plan for the next three to five years. Keep in mind that even though you’re creating a long-term plan, parts of your plan should be created or revisited as the quarters and years go on.

As you build your strategic plan, you should define:

Company priorities for the next three to five years, based on your SWOT analysis and strategy.

Yearly objectives for the first year. You don’t need to define your objectives for every year of the strategic plan. As the years go on, create new yearly objectives that connect back to your overall strategic goals . 

Related key results and KPIs. Some of these should be set by the management committee, and some should be set by specific teams that are closer to the work. Make sure your key results and KPIs are measurable and actionable. These KPIs will help you track progress and ensure you’re moving in the right direction.

Budget for the next year or few years. This should be based on your financial forecast as well as your direction. Do you need to spend aggressively to develop your product? Build your team? Make a dent with marketing? Clarify your most important initiatives and how you’ll budget for those.

A high-level project roadmap . A project roadmap is a tool in project management that helps you visualize the timeline of a complex initiative, but you can also create a very high-level project roadmap for your strategic plan. Outline what you expect to be working on in certain quarters or years to make the plan more actionable and understandable.

Step 4: Implement and share your plan

Now it’s time to put your plan into action. Strategy implementation involves clear communication across your entire organization to make sure everyone knows their responsibilities and how to measure the plan’s success. 

Make sure your team (especially senior leadership) has access to the strategic plan, so they can understand how their work contributes to company priorities and the overall strategy map. We recommend sharing your plan in the same tool you use to manage and track work, so you can more easily connect high-level objectives to daily work. If you don’t already, consider using a work management platform .  

A few tips to make sure your plan will be executed without a hitch: 

Communicate clearly to your entire organization throughout the implementation process, to ensure all team members understand the strategic plan and how to implement it effectively. 

Define what “success” looks like by mapping your strategic plan to key performance indicators.

Ensure that the actions outlined in the strategic plan are integrated into the daily operations of the organization, so that every team member's daily activities are aligned with the broader strategic objectives.

Utilize tools and software—like a work management platform—that can aid in implementing and tracking the progress of your plan.

Regularly monitor and share the progress of the strategic plan with the entire organization, to keep everyone informed and reinforce the importance of the plan.

Establish regular check-ins to monitor the progress of your strategic plan and make adjustments as needed. 

Step 5: Revise and restructure as needed

Once you’ve created and implemented your new strategic framework, the final step of the planning process is to monitor and manage your plan.

Remember, your strategic plan isn’t set in stone. You’ll need to revisit and update the plan if your company changes directions or makes new investments. As new market opportunities and threats come up, you’ll likely want to tweak your strategic plan. Make sure to review your plan regularly—meaning quarterly and annually—to ensure it’s still aligned with your organization’s vision and goals.

Keep in mind that your plan won’t last forever, even if you do update it frequently. A successful strategic plan evolves with your company’s long-term goals. When you’ve achieved most of your strategic goals, or if your strategy has evolved significantly since you first made your plan, it might be time to create a new one.

Build a smarter strategic plan with a work management platform

To turn your company strategy into a plan—and ultimately, impact—make sure you’re proactively connecting company objectives to daily work. When you can clarify this connection, you’re giving your team members the context they need to get their best work done. 

A work management platform plays a pivotal role in this process. It acts as a central hub for your strategic plan, ensuring that every task and project is directly tied to your broader company goals. This alignment is crucial for visibility and coordination, allowing team members to see how their individual efforts contribute to the company’s success. 

By leveraging such a platform, you not only streamline workflow and enhance team productivity but also align every action with your strategic objectives—allowing teams to drive greater impact and helping your company move toward goals more effectively. 

Strategic planning FAQs

Still have questions about strategic planning? We have answers.

Why do I need a strategic plan?

A strategic plan is one of many tools you can use to plan and hit your goals. It helps map out strategic objectives and growth metrics that will help your company be successful.

When should I create a strategic plan?

You should aim to create a strategic plan every three to five years, depending on your organization’s growth speed.

Since the point of a strategic plan is to map out your long-term goals and how you’ll get there, you should create a strategic plan when you’ve met most or all of them. You should also create a strategic plan any time you’re going to make a large pivot in your organization’s mission or enter new markets. 

What is a strategic planning template?

A strategic planning template is a tool organizations can use to map out their strategic plan and track progress. Typically, a strategic planning template houses all the components needed to build out a strategic plan, including your company’s vision and mission statements, information from any competitive analyses or SWOT assessments, and relevant KPIs.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. business plan?

A business plan can help you document your strategy as you’re getting started so every team member is on the same page about your core business priorities and goals. This tool can help you document and share your strategy with key investors or stakeholders as you get your business up and running.

You should create a business plan when you’re: 

Just starting your business

Significantly restructuring your business

If your business is already established, you should create a strategic plan instead of a business plan. Even if you’re working at a relatively young company, your strategic plan can build on your business plan to help you move in the right direction. During the strategic planning process, you’ll draw from a lot of the fundamental business elements you built early on to establish your strategy for the next three to five years.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. mission and vision statements?

Your strategic plan, mission statement, and vision statements are all closely connected. In fact, during the strategic planning process, you will take inspiration from your mission and vision statements in order to build out your strategic plan.

Simply put: 

A mission statement summarizes your company’s purpose.

A vision statement broadly explains how you’ll reach your company’s purpose.

A strategic plan pulls in inspiration from your mission and vision statements and outlines what actions you’re going to take to move in the right direction. 

For example, if your company produces pet safety equipment, here’s how your mission statement, vision statement, and strategic plan might shake out:

Mission statement: “To ensure the safety of the world’s animals.” 

Vision statement: “To create pet safety and tracking products that are effortless to use.” 

Your strategic plan would outline the steps you’re going to take in the next few years to bring your company closer to your mission and vision. For example, you develop a new pet tracking smart collar or improve the microchipping experience for pet owners. 

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. company objectives?

Company objectives are broad goals. You should set these on a yearly or quarterly basis (if your organization moves quickly). These objectives give your team a clear sense of what you intend to accomplish for a set period of time. 

Your strategic plan is more forward-thinking than your company goals, and it should cover more than one year of work. Think of it this way: your company objectives will move the needle towards your overall strategy—but your strategic plan should be bigger than company objectives because it spans multiple years.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. a business case?

A business case is a document to help you pitch a significant investment or initiative for your company. When you create a business case, you’re outlining why this investment is a good idea, and how this large-scale project will positively impact the business. 

You might end up building business cases for things on your strategic plan’s roadmap—but your strategic plan should be bigger than that. This tool should encompass multiple years of your roadmap, across your entire company—not just one initiative.

What’s the difference between a strategic plan vs. a project plan?

A strategic plan is a company-wide, multi-year plan of what you want to accomplish in the next three to five years and how you plan to accomplish that. A project plan, on the other hand, outlines how you’re going to accomplish a specific project. This project could be one of many initiatives that contribute to a specific company objective which, in turn, is one of many objectives that contribute to your strategic plan. 

What’s the difference between strategic management vs. strategic planning?

A strategic plan is a tool to define where your organization wants to go and what actions you need to take to achieve those goals. Strategic planning is the process of creating a plan in order to hit your strategic objectives.

Strategic management includes the strategic planning process, but also goes beyond it. In addition to planning how you will achieve your big-picture goals, strategic management also helps you organize your resources and figure out the best action plans for success. 

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Essential Guide to the Strategic Planning Process

By Joe Weller | April 3, 2019 (updated March 26, 2024)

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In this article, you’ll learn the basics of the strategic planning process and how a strategic plan guides you to achieving your organizational goals. Plus, find expert insight on getting the most out of your strategic planning.

Included on this page, you'll discover the importance of strategic planning , the steps of the strategic planning process , and the basic sections to include in your strategic plan .

What Is Strategic Planning?

Strategic planning is an organizational activity that aims to achieve a group’s goals. The process helps define a company’s objectives and investigates both internal and external happenings that might influence the organizational path. Strategic planning also helps identify adjustments that you might need to make to reach your goal. Strategic planning became popular in the 1960s because it helped companies set priorities and goals, strengthen operations, and establish agreement among managers about outcomes and results.

Strategic planning can occur over multiple years, and the process can vary in length, as can the final plan itself. Ideally, strategic planning should result in a document, a presentation, or a report that sets out a blueprint for the company’s progress.

By setting priorities, companies help ensure employees are working toward common and defined goals. It also aids in defining the direction an enterprise is heading, efficiently using resources to achieve the organization’s goals and objectives. Based on the plan, managers can make decisions or allocate the resources necessary to pursue the strategy and minimize risks.

Strategic planning strengthens operations by getting input from people with differing opinions and building a consensus about the company’s direction. Along with focusing energy and resources, the strategic planning process allows people to develop a sense of ownership in the product they create.

John Bryson

“Strategic planning is not really one thing. It is really a set of concepts, procedures, tools, techniques, and practices that have to be adapted to specific contexts and purposes,” says Professor John M. Bryson, McKnight Presidential Professor of Planning and Public Affairs at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota and author of Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations: A Guide to Strengthening and Sustaining Organizational Achievement . “Strategic planning is a prompt to foster strategic thinking, acting, and learning, and they all matter and they are all connected.”

What Strategic Planning Is Not

Strategic planning is not a to-do list for the short or long term — it is the basis of a business, its direction, and how it will get there.

“You have to think very strategically about strategic planning. It is more than just following steps,” Bryson explains. “You have to understand strategic planning is not some kind of magic solution to fixing issues. Don’t have unrealistic expectations.”

Strategic planning is also different from a business plan that focuses on a specific product, service, or program and short-term goals. Rather, strategic planning means looking at the big picture.

While they are related, it is important not to confuse strategic planning with strategic thinking, which is more about imagining and innovating in a way that helps a company. In contrast, strategic planning supports those thoughts and helps you figure out how to make them a reality.

Another part of strategic planning is tactical planning , which involves looking at short-term efforts to achieve longer-term goals.

Lastly, marketing plans are not the same as strategic plans. A marketing plan is more about introducing and delivering a service or product to the public instead of how to grow a business. For more about marketing plans and processes, read this article .

Strategic plans include information about finances, but they are different from financial planning , which involves different processes and people. Financial planning templates can help with that process.

Why Is Strategic Planning Important?

In today’s technological age, strategic plans provide businesses with a path forward. Strategic plans help companies thrive, not just survive — they provide a clear focus, which makes an organization more efficient and effective, thereby increasing productivity.

Stefan Hofmeyer

“You are not going to go very far if you don’t have a strategic plan. You need to be able to show where you are going,” says Stefan Hofmeyer, an experienced strategist and co-founder of Global PMI Partners . He lives in the startup-rich environment of northern California and says he often sees startups fail to get seed money because they do not have a strong plan for what they want to do and how they want to do it.

Getting team members on the same page (in both creating a strategic plan and executing the plan itself) can be beneficial for a company. Planners can find satisfaction in the process and unite around a common vision. In addition, you can build strong teams and bridge gaps between staff and management.

“You have to reach agreement about good ideas,” Bryson says. “A really good strategy has to meet a lot of criteria. It has to be technically workable, administratively feasible, politically acceptable, and legally, morally, and ethically defensible, and that is a pretty tough list.”

By discussing a company’s issues during the planning process, individuals can voice their opinions and provide information necessary to move the organization ahead — a form of problem solving as a group.

Strategic plans also provide a mechanism to measure success and progress toward goals, which keeps employees on the same page and helps them focus on the tasks at hand.

When Is the Time to Do Strategic Planning?

There is no perfect time to perform strategic planning. It depends entirely on the organization and the external environment that surrounds it. However, here are some suggestions about when to plan:

If your industry is changing rapidly

When an organization is launching

At the start of a new year or funding period

In preparation for a major new initiative

If regulations and laws in your industry are or will be changing

“It’s not like you do all of the thinking and planning, and then implement,” Bryson says. “A mistake people make is [believing] the thinking has to precede the acting and the learning.”

Even if you do not re-create the entire planning process often, it is important to periodically check your plan and make sure it is still working. If not, update it.

What Is the Strategic Planning Process?

Strategic planning is a process, and not an easy one. A key is to make sure you allow enough time to complete the process without rushing, but not take so much time that you lose momentum and focus. The process itself can be more important than the final document due to the information that comes out of the discussions with management, as well as lower-level workers.

Jim Stockmal

“There is not one favorite or perfect planning process,” says Jim Stockmal, president of the Association for Strategic Planning (ASP). He explains that new techniques come out constantly, and consultants and experienced planners have their favorites. In an effort to standardize the practice and terms used in strategic planning, ASP has created two certification programs .

Level 1 is the Strategic Planning Professional (SPP) certification. It is designed for early- or mid-career planners who work in strategic planning. Level 2, the Strategic Management Professional (SMP) certification, is geared toward seasoned professionals or those who train others. Stockmal explains that ASP designed the certification programs to add structure to the otherwise amorphous profession.

The strategic planning process varies by the size of the organization and can be formal or informal, but there are constraints. For example, teams of all sizes and goals should build in many points along the way for feedback from key leaders — this helps the process stay on track.

Some elements of the process might have specific start and end points, while others are continuous. For example, there might not be one “aha” moment that suddenly makes things clear. Instead, a series of small moves could slowly shift the organization in the right direction.

“Don’t make it overly complex. Bring all of the stakeholders together for input and feedback,” Stockmal advises. “Always be doing a continuous environmental scan, and don’t be afraid to engage with stakeholders.”

Additionally, knowing your company culture is important. “You need to make it work for your organization,” he says.

There are many different ways to approach the strategic planning process. Below are three popular approaches:

Goals-Based Planning: This approach begins by looking at an organization’s mission and goals. From there, you work toward that mission, implement strategies necessary to achieve those goals, and assign roles and deadlines for reaching certain milestones.

Issues-Based Planning: In this approach, start by looking at issues the company is facing, then decide how to address them and what actions to take.

Organic Planning: This approach is more fluid and begins with defining mission and values, then outlining plans to achieve that vision while sticking to the values.

“The approach to strategic planning needs to be contingent upon the organization, its history, what it’s capable of doing, etc.,” Bryson explains. “There’s such a mistake to think there’s one approach.”

For more information on strategic planning, read about how to write a strategic plan and the different types of models you can use.

Who Participates in the Strategic Planning Process?

For work as crucial as strategic planning, it is necessary to get the right team together and include them from the beginning of the process. Try to include as many stakeholders as you can.

Below are suggestions on who to include:

Senior leadership

Strategic planners

Strategists

People who will be responsible for implementing the plan

People to identify gaps in the plan

Members of the board of directors

“There can be magic to strategic planning, but it’s not in any specific framework or anybody’s 10-step process,” Bryson explains. “The magic is getting key people together, getting them to focus on what’s important, and [getting] them to do something about it. That’s where the magic is.”

Hofmeyer recommends finding people within an organization who are not necessarily current leaders, but may be in the future. “Sometimes they just become obvious. Usually they show themselves to you, you don’t need to look for them. They’re motivated to participate,” he says. These future leaders are the ones who speak up at meetings or on other occasions, who put themselves out there even though it is not part of their job description.

At the beginning of the process, establish guidelines about who will be involved and what will be expected of them. Everyone involved must be willing to cooperate and collaborate. If there is a question about whether or not to include anyone, it is usually better to bring on extra people than to leave someone out, only to discover later they should have been a part of the process all along. Not everyone will be involved the entire time; people will come and go during different phases.

Often, an outside facilitator or consultant can be an asset to a strategic planning committee. It is sometimes difficult for managers and other employees to sit back and discuss what they need to accomplish as a company and how they need to do it without considering other factors. As objective observers, outside help can often offer insight that may escape insiders.

Hofmeyer says sometimes bosses have blinders on that keep them from seeing what is happening around them, which allows them to ignore potential conflicts. “People often have their own agendas of where they want to go, and if they are not aligned, it is difficult to build a strategic plan. An outsider perspective can really take you out of your bubble and tell you things you don’t necessarily want to hear [but should]. We get into a rhythm, and it’s really hard to step out of that, so bringing in outside people can help bring in new views and aspects of your business.”

An outside consultant can also help naysayers take the process more seriously because they know the company is investing money in the efforts, Hofmeyer adds.

No matter who is involved in the planning process, make sure at least one person serves as an administrator and documents all planning committee actions.

What Is in a Strategic Plan?

A strategic plan communicates goals and what it takes to achieve them. The plan sometimes begins with a high-level view, then becomes more specific. Since strategic plans are more guidebooks than rulebooks, they don’t have to be bureaucratic and rigid. There is no perfect plan; however, it needs to be realistic.

There are many sections in a strategic plan, and the length of the final document or presentation will vary. The names people use for the sections differ, but the general ideas behind them are similar: Simply make sure you and your team agree on the terms you will use and what each means.

One-Page Strategic Planning Template

“I’m a big fan of getting a strategy onto one sheet of paper. It’s a strategic plan in a nutshell, and it provides a clear line of sight,” Stockmal advises.

You can use the template below to consolidate all your strategic ideas into a succinct, one-page strategic plan. Doing so provides you with a high-level overview of your strategic initiatives that you can place on your website, distribute to stakeholders, and refer to internally. More extensive details about implementation, capacity, and other concerns can go into an expanded document.

One Page Strategic Planning Template

Download One-Page Strategic Planning Template Excel | Word | Smartsheet

The most important part of the strategic plan is the executive summary, which contains the highlights of the plan. Although it appears at the beginning of the plan, it should be written last, after you have done all your research.

Of writing the executive summary, Stockmal says, “I find it much easier to extract and cut and edit than to do it first.”

For help with creating executive summaries, see these templates .

Other parts of a strategic plan can include the following:

Description: A description of the company or organization.

Vision Statement: A bold or inspirational statement about where you want your company to be in the future.

Mission Statement: In this section, describe what you do today, your audience, and your approach as you work toward your vision.

Core Values: In this section, list the beliefs and behaviors that will enable you to achieve your mission and, eventually, your vision.

Goals: Provide a few statements of how you will achieve your vision over the long term.

Objectives: Each long-term goal should have a few one-year objectives that advance the plan. Make objectives SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, and time-based) to get the most out of them.

Budget and Operating Plans: Highlight resources you will need and how you will implement them.

Monitoring and Evaluation: In this section, describe how you will check your progress and determine when you achieve your goals.

One of the first steps in creating a strategic plan is to perform both an internal and external analysis of the company’s environment. Internally, look at your company’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the personal values of those who will implement your plan (managers, executives, board members). Externally, examine threats and opportunities within the industry and any broad societal expectations that might exist.

You can perform a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis to sum up where you are currently and what you should focus on to help you achieve your future goals. Strengths shows you what you do well, weaknesses point out obstacles that could keep you from achieving your objectives, opportunities highlight where you can grow, and threats pinpoint external factors that could be obstacles in your way.

You can find more information about performing a SWOT analysis and free templates in this article . Another analysis technique, STEEPLE (social, technological, economic, environmental, political, legal, and ethical), often accompanies a SWOT analysis.

Basics of Strategic Planning

How you navigate the strategic planning process will vary. Several tools and techniques are available, and your choice depends on your company’s leadership, culture, environment, and size, as well as the expertise of the planners.

All include similar sections in the final plan, but the ways of driving those results differ. Some tools are goals-based, while others are issues- or scenario-based. Some rely on a more organic or rigid process.

Hofmeyer summarizes what goes into strategic planning:

Understand the stakeholders and involve them from the beginning.

Agree on a vision.

Hold successful meetings and sessions.

Summarize and present the plan to stakeholders.

Identify and check metrics.

Make periodic adjustments.

Items That Go into Strategic Planning

Strategic planning contains inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes. Inputs and activities are elements that are internal to the company, while outputs and outcomes are external.

Remember, there are many different names for the sections of strategic plans. The key is to agree what terms you will use and define them for everyone involved.

Inputs are important because it is impossible to know where you are going until you know what is around you where you are now.

Companies need to gather data from a variety of sources to get a clear look at the competitive environment and the opportunities and risks within that environment. You can think of it like a competitive intelligence program.

Data should come from the following sources:

Interviews with executives

A review of documents about the competition or market that are publicly available

Primary research by visiting or observing competitors

Studies of your industry

The values of key stakeholders

This information often goes into writing an organization’s vision and mission statements.

Activities are the meetings and other communications that need to happen during the strategic planning process to help everyone understand the competition that surrounds the organization.

It is important both to understand the competitive environment and your company’s response to it. This is where everyone looks at and responds to the data gathered from the inputs.

The strategic planning process produces outputs. Outputs can be as basic as the strategic planning document itself. The documentation and communications that describe your organization’s strategy, as well as financial statements and budgets, can also be outputs.

The implementation of the strategic plan produces outcomes (distinct from outputs). The outcomes determine the success or failure of the strategic plan by measuring how close they are to the goals and vision you outline in your plan.

It is important to understand there will be unplanned and unintended outcomes, too. How you learn from and adapt to these changes influence the success of the strategic plan.

During the planning process, decide how you will measure both the successes and failures of different parts of the strategic plan.

Sharing, Evaluating, and Monitoring the Progress of a Strategic Plan

After companies go through a lengthy strategic planning process, it is important that the plan does not sit and collect dust. Share, evaluate, and monitor the plan to assess how you are doing and make any necessary updates.

“[Some] leaders think that once they have their strategy, it’s up to someone else to execute it. That’s a mistake I see,” Stockmal says.

The process begins with distributing and communicating the plan. Decide who will get a copy of the plan and how those people will tell others about it. Will you have a meeting to kick off the implementation? How will you specify who will do what and when? Clearly communicate the roles people will have.

“Before you communicate the plan [to everyone], you need to have the commitment of stakeholders,” Hofmeyer recommends. Have the stakeholders be a part of announcing the plan to everyone — this keeps them accountable because workers will associate them with the strategy. “That applies pressure to the stakeholders to actually do the work.”

Once the team begins implementation, it’s necessary to have benchmarks to help measure your successes against the plan’s objectives. Sometimes, having smaller action plans within the larger plan can help keep the work on track.

During the planning process, you should have decided how you will measure success. Now, figure out how and when you will document progress. Keep an eye out for gaps between the vision and its implementation — a big gap could be a sign that you are deviating from the plan.

Tools are available to assist with tracking performance of strategic plans, including several types of software. “For some organizations, a spreadsheet is enough, but you are going to manually enter the data, so someone needs to be responsible for that,” Stockmal recommends.

Remember: strategic plans are not written in stone. Some deviation will be necessary, and when it happens, it’s important to understand why it occurred and how the change might impact the company's vision and goals.

Deviation from the plan does not mean failure, reminds Hofmeyer. Instead, understanding what transpired is the key. “Things happen, [and] you should always be on the lookout for that. I’m a firm believer in continuous improvement,” he says. Explain to stakeholders why a change is taking place. “There’s always a sense of re-evaluation, but do it methodically.”

Build in a schedule to review and amend the plan as necessary; this can help keep companies on track.

What Is Strategic Management?

Strategic planning is part of strategic management, and it involves the activities that make the strategic plan a reality. Essentially, strategic management is getting from the starting point to the goal effectively and efficiently using the ongoing activities and processes that a company takes on in order to keep in line with its mission, vision, and strategic plan.

“[Strategic management] closes the gap between the plan and executing the strategy,” Stockmal of ASP says. Strategic management is part of a larger planning process that includes budgeting, forecasting, capital allocation, and more.

There is no right or wrong way to do strategic management — only guidelines. The basic phases are preparing for strategic planning, creating the strategic plan, and implementing that plan.

No matter how you manage your plan, it’s key to allow the strategic plan to evolve and grow as necessary, due to both the internal and external factors.

“We get caught up in all of the day-to-day issues,” Stockmal explains, adding that people do not often leave enough time for implementing the plan and making progress. That’s what strategic management implores: doing things that are in the plan and not letting the plan sit on a shelf.

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How to Plan an Effective Strategic Planning Meeting

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What Is Strategic Planning?

Strategic planning is defining the vision for your organization’s future and developing an action plan to accomplish that goal. Planning sets priorities, directs energy and resources, assesses performance, and ensures everyone works towards a common goal.

The success of a strategic planning session relies on more than gathering a team and facilitator in one place. A strategic planning meeting requires clear action items to carve the path forward.

What Is a Strategic Plan?

Strategic plan steps

A strategic plan outlines and communicates an organization’s goals and actions to achieve them. Typically, a strategic plan includes short-term objectives, long-term goals, vision, measurements of success, and a timeline.

What’s the Purpose of Strategic Planning?

Strategic planning aims to take a step back from the day-to-day and determine the broader development and direction you want to go in. Strategic planning is an important business practice for several reasons:

  • Helps company leaders identify goals and objectives that will lead their teams in the right direction
  • Receive feedback and other important information from attendees, including executives, stakeholders, and team members.
  • Encourages team members to work together to think strategically, resolve problems, and develop new ideas on how to improve the organization.

Who Needs to Be Included?

Having the right people in the room for a session is key for a successful strategy meeting. First, having great leadership is critical to help the meeting run smoothly. Include at least one person from each department and upper management. It can also be beneficial to bring in outside parties to give the organization a fresh perspective.

Best Practices to Prepare for a Strategic Planning Session

what is a strategic planning meeting

It’s important not to rush the planning process. Give attendees ample time to prepare for the meeting and collect whatever information and documents they need to discuss and demonstrate their ideas. Send an agenda to the appropriate parties, including the leadership team, management team, stakeholders, and other participants.

Here’s a look at some of the best practices for effective meeting facilitation:

1. Choose an Offsite Venue

Choose an appropriate venue for the meeting. The venue should be large enough to accommodate all attendees comfortably, with room to spare for collaboration tools, such as whiteboard walls for brainstorming and strategizing. Consider booking a meeting space at Roam to hold a successful strategic planning retreat. This could be a monthly, bi-monthly, or annual retreat where team members communicate, collaborate, and adopt a decision-making process.

2. Select the Facilitator

Facilitation of a strategic planning meeting requires a strong leader with good communication skills. The facilitator is responsible for creating the agenda, gathering content materials, and arriving early to the retreat to ensure that materials are in place and the setup is correct. A facilitator could be someone on your team who will also be in attendance or an outside party whose sole job is to facilitate.

3. Choose a Meeting Coordinator

A meeting coordinator is in charge of handling the logistics of the meeting. This person should ensure that all attendees have made the appropriate travel arrangements, that all participants are aware of any preparation required for the session, and that the conference room has been booked and set up for the meeting.

4. Develop a Strategic Planning Process

During the meeting, you’ll want to welcome participants to discuss strategic issues and have meaningful discussions about the company’s goals, objectives, and vision. Remind attendees that no idea is too small and that open and engaging discussion is critical for effective brainstorming. Consider what strategic direction you want to start with and develop a transparent planning process that flows smoothly.

5. Outline Your Meeting Goals and Objectives

Key strategies cannot be achieved without proper planning. All team members need to take accountability and share how they can aid in the implementation of new ideas and strategies.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are you going to do? Get a clear idea of what will occur during the meeting and what goals and objectives must be met within a specific time period for the success of the organization.
  • How will you do it? Team members can share ideas and strategies for meeting these goals and objectives while remaining within budget and in the chosen timeframe.
  • Why are you doing it? Consider the importance of meeting these goals and objectives and the benefits they can have for the business.

6. Create an Agenda

Meetings can quickly go astray when there is no clear agenda or the leadership team fails to stick to the plan. As most entrepreneurs know, an agenda can be invaluable when discussing important topics, milestones, and questions. When putting together an agenda, try to keep it short and be selective about topics. Develop a contingency plan if the schedule falls through.

How to Run an Effective Strategic Planning Meeting

Every professional facilitator wants to run an effective meeting that leads to results, and there are many aspects that go into running a productive board retreat. Here are some essential steps to take if you’re holding a strategic planning meeting:

1. Define a Goal for the Meeting

It’s important to have a primary goal for the meeting. No executive or board member should walk into the meeting not knowing the goals and objectives of the session or what they can expect during the meeting. Maybe your goal is to develop a new product or better align your social media with your company’s marketing strategies. It can also be useful to establish specific strategy planning meeting themes, such as “innovation.”

2. Engage Participants

Engaging participants as a group can sometimes be difficult, especially if they do not work together regularly. Start by breaking the ice with some friendly conversation, or start with an icebreaker activity. You could also ask participants to complete an activity that requires them to interact with one another. A common consensus with smaller meetings is that everyone should begin by introducing themselves.

3. Set a Clear Agenda and Expectations

Set clear expectations for the meeting to ensure that all participants can prepare in advance. The agenda should include these expectations and provide attendees with the information they need to be productive. Assign roles so everyone knows their responsibilities during the meeting and use timelines to ensure that goals are met in a specified timeframe.

4. Celebrate Your Progress

A great meeting should be celebrated. During the session, be sure to take plenty of breaks and celebrate the progress you have made. At Roam, meeting room attendees have access to a full-service, onsite coffee bar that serves a variety of snacks and lite bites. Roam also offers curated packages to elevate your meetings, such as access to catering menus for all occasions and dietary restrictions.

5. Get Input from Everyone Involved

Everyone should have a voice during the strategic planning meeting. Allow each attendee the chance to discuss their thoughts and ideas for the company while still adhering to the agenda. Have one person jot down these ideas during the meeting so that they can be reviewed at a later time. A great leader will ensure that everyone gets input while staying on track.

6. Use Visuals and Brainstorming Tools

Access to the right visuals and brainstorming tools can help to better communicate ideas in a way that everyone can understand. Visuals and collaborative tools also help you organize your work and relieve the stress of coming up with ideas on the spot. Leaders can also use these visuals to encourage team members to give their input and get involved in the brainstorming process.

7. Develop a Strategic Plan

There are several steps involved in developing a strategic plan for an upcoming session. Start by determining your strategic position. Having a strategic priority sets the foundation for all work going forward. Next, prioritize your objectives and develop a series of steps for meeting these goals. You’ll then need to create a plan for executing and managing the plan, followed by a final review and revising.

8. Determine How You Will Accomplish the Objectives in Your Plan

Creating a list of goals and objectives to meet is just the start. Teams must also determine strategic solutions for accomplishing these objectives. This typically consists of creating smaller milestones that must be met within certain limitations, such as budget and timeframe constraints. Everyone involved should know their roles and responsibilities for accomplishing these objectives. Following up with attendees after the meeting is key to keeping goals on track.

Book an Offsite Meeting with Roam

what is a strategic planning meeting

An effective strategic planning meeting can boost business performance, align team members, and strengthen the company’s position in the industry. Roam makes it easy to host these important meetings by providing companies with access to unique and all-inclusive meeting rooms for businesses of all sizes.

From complimentary tech amenities to an on-site team available to help you with your daily needs, Roam is here to assist with stress-free planning so you can focus on the important things. View available meeting rooms today or request a room online .

The Strategic Planning Process in 4 Steps

To guide you through the strategic planning process, we created this 4 step process you can use with your team. we’ll cover the basic definition of strategic planning, what core elements you should include, and actionable steps to build your strategic plan..

Free Strategic Planning Guide

What is Strategic Planning?

Strategic Planning is when a process where organizations define a bold vision and create a plan with objectives and goals to reach that future. A great strategic plan defines where your organization is going, how you’ll win, who must do what, and how you’ll review and adapt your strategy development.

A strategic plan or a business strategic plan should include the following:

  • Your organization’s vision organization’s vision of the future.
  • A clearly Articulated mission and values statement.
  • A current state assessment that evaluates your competitive environment, new opportunities, and new threats.
  • What strategic challenges you face.
  • A growth strategy and outlined market share.
  • Long-term strategic goals.
  • An annual plan with SMART goals or OKRs to support your strategic goals.
  • Clear measures, key performance indicators, and data analytics to measure progress.
  • A clear strategic planning cycle, including how you’ll review, refresh, and recast your plan every quarter.

Strategic Planning Video - What is Strategic Planning?

Overview of the Strategic Planning Process:

The strategic management process involves taking your organization on a journey from point A (where you are today) to point B (your vision of the future).

Part of that journey is the strategy built during strategic planning, and part of it is execution during the strategic management process. A good strategic plan dictates “how” you travel the selected road.

Effective execution ensures you are reviewing, refreshing, and recalibrating your strategy to reach your destination. The planning process should take no longer than 90 days. But, move at a pace that works best for you and your team and leverage this as a resource.

To kick this process off, we recommend 1-2 weeks (1-hour meeting with the Owner/CEO, Strategy Director, and Facilitator (if necessary) to discuss the information collected and direction for continued planning.)

Strategic Planning Guide and Process

Questions to Ask:

  • Who is on your Planning Team? What senior leadership members and key stakeholders are included? Checkout these links you need help finding a strategic planning consultant , someone to facilitate strategic planning , or expert AI strategy consulting .
  • Who will be the business process owner (Strategy Director) of planning in your organization?
  • Fast forward 12 months from now, what do you want to see differently in your organization as a result of your strategic plan and implementation?
  • Planning team members are informed of their roles and responsibilities.
  • A strategic planning schedule is established.
  • Existing planning information and secondary data collected.

Action Grid:

Overview of the Strategic Planning Process

Step 1: Determine Organizational Readiness

Set up your plan for success – questions to ask:

  • Are the conditions and criteria for successful planning in place at the current time? Can certain pitfalls be avoided?
  • Is this the appropriate time for your organization to initiate a planning process? Yes or no? If no, where do you go from here?

Step 2: Develop Your Team & Schedule

Who is going to be on your planning team? You need to choose someone to oversee the strategy implementation (Chief Strategy Officer or Strategy Director) and strategic management of your plan? You need some of the key individuals and decision makers for this team. It should be a small group of approximately 12-15 people.

OnStrategy is the leader in strategic planning and performance management. Our cloud-based software and hands-on services closes the gap between strategy and execution. Learn more about OnStrategy here .

Step 3: Collect Current Data

All strategic plans are developed using the following information:

  • The last strategic plan, even if it is not current
  • Mission statement, vision statement, values statement
  • Past or current Business plan
  • Financial records for the last few years
  • Marketing plan
  • Other information, such as last year’s SWOT, sales figures and projections

Step 4: Review Collected Data

Review the data collected in the last action with your strategy director and facilitator.

  • What trends do you see?
  • Are there areas of obvious weakness or strengths?
  • Have you been following a plan or have you just been going along with the market?

Conclusion: A successful strategic plan must be adaptable to changing conditions. Organizations benefit from having a flexible plan that can evolve, as assumptions and goals may need adjustments. Preparing to adapt or restart the planning process is crucial, so we recommend updating actions quarterly and refreshing your plan annually.

Strategic Planning Pyramid

Strategic Planning Phase 1: Determine Your Strategic Position

Want more? Dive into the “ Evaluate Your Strategic Position ” How-To Guide.

Action Grid

Step 1: identify strategic issues.

Strategic issues are critical unknowns driving you to embark on a robust strategic planning process. These issues can be problems, opportunities, market shifts, or anything else that keeps you awake at night and begging for a solution or decision. The best strategic plans address your strategic issues head-on.

  • How will we grow, stabilize, or retrench in order to sustain our organization into the future?
  • How will we diversify our revenue to reduce our dependence on a major customer?
  • What must we do to improve our cost structure and stay competitive?
  • How and where must we innovate our products and services?

Step 2: Conduct an Environmental Scan

Conducting an environmental scan will help you understand your operating environment. An environmental scan is called a PEST analysis, an acronym for Political, Economic, Social, and Technological trends. Sometimes, it is helpful to include Ecological and Legal trends as well. All of these trends play a part in determining the overall business environment.

Step 3: Conduct a Competitive Analysis

The reason to do a competitive analysis is to assess the opportunities and threats that may occur from those organizations competing for the same business you are. You need to understand what your competitors are or aren’t offering your potential customers. Here are a few other key ways a competitive analysis fits into strategic planning:

  • To help you assess whether your competitive advantage is really an advantage.
  • To understand what your competitors’ current and future strategies are so you can plan accordingly.
  • To provide information that will help you evaluate your strategic decisions against what your competitors may or may not be doing.

Learn more on how to conduct a competitive analysis here .

Step 4: Identify Opportunities and Threats

Opportunities are situations that exist but must be acted on if the business is to benefit from them.

What do you want to capitalize on?

  • What new needs of customers could you meet?
  • What are the economic trends that benefit you?
  • What are the emerging political and social opportunities?
  • What niches have your competitors missed?

Threats refer to external conditions or barriers preventing a company from reaching its objectives.

What do you need to mitigate? What external driving force do you need to anticipate?

Questions to Answer:

  • What are the negative economic trends?
  • What are the negative political and social trends?
  • Where are competitors about to bite you?
  • Where are you vulnerable?

Step 5: Identify Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths refer to what your company does well.

What do you want to build on?

  • What do you do well (in sales, marketing, operations, management)?
  • What are your core competencies?
  • What differentiates you from your competitors?
  • Why do your customers buy from you?

Weaknesses refer to any limitations a company faces in developing or implementing a strategy.

What do you need to shore up?

  • Where do you lack resources?
  • What can you do better?
  • Where are you losing money?
  • In what areas do your competitors have an edge?

Step 6: Customer Segments

How to Segment Your Customers

Customer segmentation defines the different groups of people or organizations a company aims to reach or serve.

  • What needs or wants define your ideal customer?
  • What characteristics describe your typical customer?
  • Can you sort your customers into different profiles using their needs, wants and characteristics?
  • Can you reach this segment through clear communication channels?

Step 7: Develop Your SWOT

How to Perform a SWOT

A SWOT analysis is a quick way of examining your organization by looking at the internal strengths and weaknesses in relation to the external opportunities and threats. Creating a SWOT analysis lets you see all the important factors affecting your organization together in one place.

It’s easy to read, easy to communicate, and easy to create. Take the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats you developed earlier, review, prioritize, and combine like terms. The SWOT analysis helps you ask and answer the following questions: “How do you….”

  • Build on your strengths
  • Shore up your weaknesses
  • Capitalize on your opportunities
  • Manage your threats

How to Write a Mission Statment

Strategic Planning Process Phase 2: Developing Strategy

Want More? Deep Dive Into the “Developing Your Strategy” How-To Guide.

Step 1: Develop Your Mission Statement

The mission statement describes an organization’s purpose or reason for existing.

What is our purpose? Why do we exist? What do we do?

  • What are your organization’s goals? What does your organization intend to accomplish?
  • Why do you work here? Why is it special to work here?
  • What would happen if we were not here?

Outcome: A short, concise, concrete statement that clearly defines the scope of the organization.

Step 2: discover your values.

Your values statement clarifies what your organization stands for, believes in and the behaviors you expect to see as a result. Check our the post on great what are core values and examples of core values .

How will we behave?

  • What are the key non-negotiables that are critical to the company’s success?
  • What guiding principles are core to how we operate in this organization?
  • What behaviors do you expect to see?
  • If the circumstances changed and penalized us for holding this core value, would we still keep it?

Outcome: Short list of 5-7 core values.

Step 3: casting your vision statement.

How to Write Core Values

A Vision Statement defines your desired future state and directs where we are going as an organization.

Where are we going?

  • What will our organization look like 5–10 years from now?
  • What does success look like?
  • What are we aspiring to achieve?
  • What mountain are you climbing and why?

Outcome: A picture of the future.

Step 4: identify your competitive advantages.

How to Write a Vision Statment

A competitive advantage is a characteristic of an organization that allows it to meet its customer’s need(s) better than its competition can. It’s important to consider your competitive advantages when creating your competitive strategy.

What are we best at?

  • What are your unique strengths?
  • What are you best at in your market?
  • Do your customers still value what is being delivered? Ask them.
  • How do your value propositions stack up in the marketplace?

Outcome: A list of 2 or 3 items that honestly express the organization’s foundation for winning.

Step 5: crafting your organization-wide strategies.

What is a Competitive Advantage

Your competitive strategy is the general methods you intend to use to reach your vision. Regardless of the level, a strategy answers the question “how.”

How will we succeed?

  • Broad: market scope; a relatively wide market emphasis.
  • Narrow: limited to only one or few segments in the market
  • Does your competitive position focus on lowest total cost or product/service differentiation or both?

Outcome: Establish the general, umbrella methods you intend to use to reach your vision.

How to Develop a Growth Strategy

Phase 3: Strategic Plan Development

Want More? Deep Dive Into the “Build Your Plan” How-To Guide.

Strategic Planning Process Step 1: Use Your SWOT to Set Priorities

If your team wants to take the next step in the SWOT analysis, apply the TOWS Strategic Alternatives Matrix to your strategy map to help you think about the options you could pursue. To do this, match external opportunities and threats with your internal strengths and weaknesses, as illustrated in the matrix below:

TOWS Strategic Alternatives Matrix

Evaluate the options you’ve generated, and identify the ones that give the greatest benefit, and that best achieve the mission and vision of your organization. Add these to the other strategic options that you’re considering.

Step 2: Define Long-Term Strategic Objectives

Long-Term Strategic Objectives are long-term, broad, continuous statements that holistically address all areas of your organization. What must we focus on to achieve our vision? Check out examples of strategic objectives here. What are the “big rocks”?

Questions to ask:

  • What are our shareholders or stakeholders expectations for our financial performance or social outcomes?
  • To reach our outcomes, what value must we provide to our customers? What is our value proposition?
  • To provide value, what process must we excel at to deliver our products and services?
  • To drive our processes, what skills, capabilities and organizational structure must we have?

Outcome: Framework for your plan – no more than 6. You can use the balanced scorecard framework, OKRs, or whatever methodology works best for you. Just don’t exceed 6 long-term objectives.

Strategy Map

Step 3: Setting Organization-Wide Goals and Measures

How to Set SMART Goals

Once you have formulated your strategic objectives, you should translate them into goals and measures that can be communicated to your strategic planning team (team of business leaders and/or team members).

You want to set goals that convert the strategic objectives into specific performance targets. Effective strategic goals clearly state what, when, how, and who, and they are specifically measurable. They should address what you must do in the short term (think 1-3 years) to achieve your strategic objectives.

Organization-wide goals are annual statements that are SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, responsible, and time-bound. These are outcome statements expressing a result to achieve the desired outcomes expected in the organization.

What is most important right now to reach our long-term objectives?

Outcome: clear outcomes for the current year..

Strategic Planning Outcomes Table

Step 4: Select KPIs

How to Develop KPIs for Strategic Planning

Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are the key measures that will have the most impact in moving your organization forward. We recommend you guide your organization with measures that matter. See examples of KPIs here.

How will we measure our success?

Outcome: 5-7 measures that help you keep the pulse on your performance. When selecting your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), ask, “What are the key performance measures we need to track to monitor if we are achieving our goals?” These KPIs include the key goals you want to measure that will have the most impact on moving your organization forward.

Step 5: Cascade Your Strategies to Operations

Cascade Your Strategy to Acton Plans

To move from big ideas to action, creating action items and to-dos for short-term goals is crucial. This involves translating strategy from the organizational level to individuals. Functional area managers and contributors play a role in developing short-term goals to support the organization.

Before taking action, decide whether to create plans directly derived from the strategic plan or sync existing operational, business, or account plans with organizational goals. Avoid the pitfall of managing multiple sets of goals and actions, as this shifts from strategic planning to annual planning.

Questions to Ask

  • How are we going to get there at a functional level?
  • Who must do what by when to accomplish and drive the organizational goals?
  • What strategic questions still remain and need to be solved?

Department/functional goals, actions, measures and targets for the next 12-24 months

Step 6: Cascading Goals to Departments and Team Members

Now in your Departments / Teams, you need to create goals to support the organization-wide goals. These goals should still be SMART and are generally (short-term) something to be done in the next 12-18 months. Finally, you should develop an action plan for each goal.

Keep the acronym SMART in mind again when setting action items, and make sure they include start and end dates and have someone assigned their responsibility. Since these action items support your previously established goals, it may be helpful to consider action items your immediate plans on the way to achieving your (short-term) goals. In other words, identify all the actions that need to occur in the next 90 days and continue this same process every 90 days until the goal is achieved.

Examples of Cascading Goals:

Build a Strategic Plan You Can Implement

Phase 4: Executing Strategy and Managing Performance

Want more? Dive Into the “Managing Performance” How-To Guide.

Step 1: Strategic Plan Implementation Schedule

Implementation is the process that turns strategies and plans into actions in order to accomplish strategic objectives and goals.

How will we use the plan as a management tool?

  • Communication Schedule: How and when will you roll-out your plan to your staff? How frequently will you send out updates?
  • Process Leader: Who is your strategy director?
  • Structure: What are the dates for your strategy reviews (we recommend at least quarterly)?
  • System & Reports: What are you expecting each staff member to come prepared with to those strategy review sessions?

Outcome: Syncing your plan into the “rhythm of your business.”

Once your resources are in place, you can set your implementation schedule. Use the following steps as your base implementation plan:

  • Establish your performance management and reward system.
  • Set up monthly and quarterly strategy meetings with established reporting procedures.
  • Set up annual strategic review dates including new assessments and a large group meeting for an annual plan review.

Now you’re ready to start plan roll-out. Below are sample implementation schedules, which double for a full strategic management process timeline.

Strategic Planning Calendar

Step 2: Tracking Goals & Actions

Monthly strategy meetings don’t need to take a lot of time – 30 to 60 minutes should suffice. But it is important that key team members report on their progress toward the goals they are responsible for – including reporting on metrics in the scorecard they have been assigned.

By using the measurements already established, it’s easy to make course corrections if necessary. You should also commit to reviewing your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) during these regular meetings. Need help comparing strategic planning software ? Check out our guide.

Effective Strategic Planning: Your Bi-Annual Checklist

Is it strategic?

Never lose sight of the fact that strategic plans are guidelines, not rules. Every six months or so, you should evaluate your strategy execution and strategic plan implementation by asking these key questions:

  • Will your goals be achieved within the time frame of the plan? If not, why?
  • Should the deadlines be modified? (Before you modify deadlines, figure out why you’re behind schedule.)
  • Are your goals and action items still realistic?
  • Should the organization’s focus be changed to put more emphasis on achieving your goals?
  • Should your goals be changed? (Be careful about making these changes – know why efforts aren’t achieving the goals before changing the goals.)
  • What can be gathered from an adaptation to improve future planning activities?

Why Track Your Goals?

  • Ownership: Having a stake and responsibility in the plan makes you feel part of it and leads you to drive your goals forward.
  • Culture: Successful plans tie tracking and updating goals into organizational culture.
  • Implementation: If you don’t review and update your strategic goals, they are just good intentions
  • Accountability: Accountability and high visibility help drive change. This means that each measure, objective, data source and initiative must have an owner.
  • Empowerment: Changing goals from In Progress to Complete just feels good!

Step 3: Review & Adapt

Guidelines for your strategy review.

The most important part of this meeting is a 70/30 review. 30% is about reviewing performance, and 70% should be spent on making decisions to move the company’s strategy forward in the next quarter.

The best strategic planners spend about 60-90 minutes in the sessions. Holding meetings helps focus your goals on accomplishing top priorities and accelerating the organization’s growth. Although the meeting structure is relatively simple, it does require a high degree of discipline.

Strategy Review Session Questions:

Strategic planning frequently asked questions, read our frequently asked questions about strategic planning to learn how to build a great strategic plan..

Strategic planning is when organizations define a bold vision and create a plan with objectives and goals to reach that future. A great strategic plan defines where your organization is going, how you’ll win, who must do what, and how you’ll review and adapt your strategy..

Your strategic plan needs to include an assessment of your current state, a SWOT analysis, mission, vision, values, competitive advantages, growth strategy, growth enablers, a 3-year roadmap, and annual plan with strategic goals, OKRs, and KPIs.

A strategic planning process should take no longer than 90 days to complete from start to finish! Any longer could fatigue your organization and team.

There are four overarching phases to the strategic planning process that include: determining position, developing your strategy, building your plan, and managing performance. Each phase plays a unique but distinctly crucial role in the strategic planning process.

Prior to starting your strategic plan, you must go through this pre-planning process to determine your organization’s readiness by following these steps:

Ask yourself these questions: Are the conditions and criteria for successful planning in place now? Can we foresee any pitfalls that we can avoid? Is there an appropriate time for our organization to initiate this process?

Develop your team and schedule. Who will oversee the implementation as Chief Strategy Officer or Director? Do we have at least 12-15 other key individuals on our team?

Research and Collect Current Data. Find the following resources that your organization may have used in the past to assist you with your new plan: last strategic plan, mission, vision, and values statement, business plan, financial records, marketing plan, SWOT, sales figures, or projections.

Finally, review the data with your strategy director and facilitator and ask these questions: What trends do we see? Any obvious strengths or weaknesses? Have we been following a plan or just going along with the market?

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what is a strategic planning meeting

How to Run a Strategic Planning Meeting (Strategy Definition)

  • How to Run a Strategic...

Description of the Template and Guide

This meeting agenda template is part of a strategic planning process designed specifically for use with remote participants. This process walks remote teams through creation of the core elements of a strategic plan: vision, mission, values, goals and strategies, resulting in what we call The Essential Strategic Plan.

If you’ve set organizational goals, the next step is to create strategies for achieving each goal. Where goals define what, strategies define how. This meeting maps out a process for setting goal-aligned strategies in about two hours.

During this meeting, you'll lead the group through a brainstorm on strategies for achieving your organizational goals. Then, you'll evaluate these strategies by impact and feasibility, and select a draft set for inclusion in the strategic plan.

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35-page Facilitator's Guide with tips, step-by-step instructions, & resources

See more templates.

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A free meeting agenda template for sharing information, driving accountability and resolving leadership team challenges. Includes an 18-page detailed instruction guide.

A free meeting agenda template for running status meetings with project teams. MS Word and online formats. Includes a 10-page detailed instruction guide.

A free meeting agenda template used to align the team when a new project is started. MS Word and online formats. Includes a 12-page detailed instruction guide.

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what is a strategic planning meeting

Anna O'Byrne

Anna O’Byrne is the founder and Chief Conversion Copywriter at Conversion Copy Co. Which means... she helps clients grow by: understanding ideal customers and what makes them tick; assessing the competition and what it will take to make offers more attractive; creating website and sales funnel copy that attracts and converts more leads.

11 Steps To Run A Successful Strategic Management Meeting

11 Steps To Run A Successful Strategic Management Meeting

Jane Ng • 05 Dec 2023 • 8 min read

A strategic management meeting is one of the best methods that help high-performance teams review and improve work quality as well as productivity to create the best results for the business. This article will give you everything you need to know about a strategic management meeting and how to open a meeting effectively. 

Table of Contents

  • #1 – What is a Strategic Management Meeting?
  • #2 – The Benefits of a Strategic Management Meeting
  • #3 – Who Should Attend a Strategic Management Meeting? 
  • #4 – How to Run an Effective Strategic Management Meeting (SMM Plan)

What is a Strategic Management Meeting?

Strategic meetings management ( SMM ) is a management model that focuses on the overall strategy of a company, which includes process management, budget, quality, standards, and suppliers to evaluate work efficiency and business performance.

11 Steps To Run A Successful Strategic Management Meeting - AhaSlides

This meeting may take place every quarter and may need data collected from a marketing strategy meeting, business strategy meeting, or sales strategy meeting.

In short, the purpose of strategic meetings is to find out how to most effectively use a company’s resources to meet specific goals and objectives.

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The Benefits of a Strategic Management Meeting

A strategic management meeting not only helps attendees be more proactive with their work from arriving on time and preparing documents & questions to ask during strategic planning but also brings 5 benefits as follows:

Reduce Costs

Many organizations have switched to the strategic management meeting framework. The SMM plan helps companies now use low-cost (even free) tools and services to cross-analyze data between meetings to see what works, what doesn’t, and what can do well. 

This helps to spend, allocate and invest resources as wisely and efficiently as possible.

Save Time and Energy

Planning effective meetings allows departments or participants to understand the purpose of the strategic discussion and what they need to prepare and contribute.

For example, what documents they will bring, what figures to present, and what tasks or solutions to be drawn after the meeting.

Breaking down tasks to prepare for the meeting saves a lot of time and effort by not being rambling or becoming a criticism of whose fault but forgetting the purpose of the meeting.

Boost Negotiating Power

what is a strategic planning meeting

During the meeting, arguments or disagreements will not be avoided. However, this boosts team members’ negotiating power by having to discuss and figure out the best solution to solve problems for customers and businesses. You might be surprised to find an excellent negotiator on your team!

Manage Risks 

No one wants to attend a meeting that will be cancelled midway because there is no data or problem-solving.

Therefore, a follow-up meeting means everyone needs to plan, collect, and deliver data from past meetings, analyze that data and help translate that analysis into actionable next steps. These activities make sure to manage risks better. Or even make the meeting more productive or more goal-oriented than the last. 

Keep A Close Eye On Budgets and Resources

Conducting effective team meetings will be able to monitor and adjust resources and make informed budget decisions. Strategy review meetings will help highlight departments or programs that may need additional funding to be successful. They are also a good place to see if you need to increase/decrease your budget or your workforce.

Who Should Attend a Strategic Management Meeting? 

The people required to appear at the meeting will be the higher-ups such as the CEO (Managing Director, Executive Director, City Manager, etc.) and the project’s direct manager.

Key players are required to have a say in planning, but not everyone is literally at the table.

Who should attend a strategic management meeting?

Too many people in the room can lead to stress, chaos, and confusion. If you have multiple people who want to be involved in this process, include them in a way like Gathering employee opinions through surveys and charging someone in the meeting to ensure this data gets to the table and is considered part of the process.

How to Run an Effective Strategic Management Meeting (SMM Plan) 

Ensuring your strategic management meetings are engaging and productive starts with proper planning. With these steps

Meeting Preparation

Remember to follow these guidelines for planning a meeting with 4 steps:

  • Schedule A Time and Collect The Necessary Data/Report

Schedule and be sure to invite all leaders and key employees who are required to attend this meeting. Make sure the people in the room are people who can actively participate in the meeting.

At the same time, collect the necessary data, and reports, update status indicators, and even questions to be answered in the meeting. Make sure submissions aren’t too close to the meeting date so everyone can go through the most recent data and write an analysis on emerging trends or issues.

what is a strategic planning meeting

  • Plan Agenda Template

An agenda helps you and the participants stay on track. Meeting agenda ideas will ensure answers to the questions:

  • Why do we have this meeting?
  • What do we need to accomplish when the meeting is over?
  • What are the next steps we should take?

Remember that a strategic management meeting agenda can be like a review of goals, measures, and initiatives, validating the strategy, and continuing current strategic direction and projects.

Here’s a sample agenda:

  • 9.00 AM – 9.30 AM: Overview of the purpose of the meeting
  • 9.30 AM – 11.00 AM: Re-evaluate the whole process
  • 1.00 PM – 3.00 PM: Departments and Leaders Updates
  • 3.00 – 4.00 PM: Outstanding Issues
  • 4.00 PM – 5.00 PM: Solutions Given
  • 5.00 PM – 6.00 PM: Actions Plan
  • 6.00 PM – 6.30 PM: QnA Session
  • 6.30 PM – 7.00 PM: Wrap-up
  • Set The Ground Rules

You can set rules for everyone to prepare before the meeting.

For example, if they cannot attend, they must send an assistant instead. 

Or attendees must keep order, respect the speaker, do not interrupt (etc.)

what is a strategic planning meeting

  • Monthly All-hands meetings

As mentioned above, a strategic management conference is a big event, usually held every quarter. So, if you want your staff to become familiar with this practice and be as prepared as possible. You need to review the meeting and organize monthly all-hands meetings to update staff with any new announcements not fit for email and to set company goals and track progress towards existing ones.

  • Perform Project kick-off meeting

If an all-hands meeting will help staff get acquainted and prepare data for strategic management then a project kick-off meeting is the first meeting between the client who ordered a project and the company that will bring it to life. This meeting will only need key players to discuss the foundations of the project, its purpose, and its goals.

The Meeting

  • Define Meeting Purpose and Desired Outcomes

A strategic planning meeting can completely go wrong if it is held without giving everyone defined goals and demanding outputs. That’s why the first step is to define a clear, tangible goal for the meeting.

what is a strategic planning meeting

Some examples of clear goals:

  • A strategy on social media to reach a younger audience. 
  • A plan to develop a new product, a new feature.

You can also set specific strategic management meeting topics as part of your goals, such as business growth in the second half of the year.

Be as specific as possible with your goal. That way, it is easier for everyone to keep working and make the right decisions.

  • Break The Ice 

With the change in the way of working after two years of the pandemic, companies must always be ready with virtual meetings and traditional meetings combined. People communicating via computer screens while others are sitting at the office will sometimes make your co-workers feel less excited and disconnected.

Therefore, you need a team meeting with icebreakers and bonding activities at the beginning of the meeting to warm up the atmosphere.

Ice breaker activity for company meeting | AhaSlides

  • Make The Meeting Interactive

Getting your team fully invested in the strategy session requires fostering true interactivity. Rather than standalone presentations, try splitting into breakouts where different departments can brainstorm solutions to recent hurdles.

Assign each group a challenge your company is facing. Then, let their creativity run wild – whether through team-building games, quick polls, or thoughtful discussion questions . This sharing of perspectives in a lower-pressure format can spark unexpected insights.

what is a strategic planning meeting

When reconvening, request structured yet open feedback from each breakout. Remind everyone there are no “wrong” ideas at this stage. Your goal is to understand all perspectives to ultimately overcome obstacles together.

  • Identify Potential Challenges

What happens if the meeting goes beyond the allotted time? What if the leadership team has to be absent to deal with other unexpected issues? If everyone is busy blaming others and not getting the desired outputs?

Please list all possible risks with solutions to prepare well!

For example, consider using a countdown timer for specific agenda items or presentations. 

  • Use Online Tools 

Using images and tools is a must today in a meeting if you want to communicate ideas easily and quickly. Reports and statistics will also be presented visually and are easy to understand thanks to these tools. It also encourages people to provide input and helps you make quick decisions by getting real-time feedback. You can find free tools and template providers like AhaSlide, Miro, and Google Slide.

For example, Use Interactive Presentations and tools like polls and surveys to generate creative ideas and display them in real-time.

what is a strategic planning meeting

  • Wrap-up with Town Hall Meeting format 

Let’s wrap up the meeting with a Q&A session in T own Hall Meeting format.

Participants can raise the questions they want and get instant answers from leaders. It proves that leaders are not just faceless decision-makers, but are thoughtful thinkers who not only put the company’s interests first but also think about the interests of their employees.

  • Tips for Facilitating a Strategic Management Meeting

In addition to the steps above, here are some small notes to help you how to organize a strategic planning session better:

  • Make sure everyone is participating in the discussion.
  • Make sure everyone is actively listening.
  • Make sure everyone applies their teamwork skills.
  • Work to narrow the options down as little as possible.
  • Don’t be afraid to call for a vote to see the level of opinion and consensus.
  • Be creative! Strategic planning is a time to explore creativity and see the reactions and solutions to situations of the whole team.

To run a successful strategic management meeting. You must prepare well every step from people, documents, data, and tools. Provide an agenda and stick with it so participants know what they are going to do and what tasks will be given. 

AhaSlide hopes to provide all the answers to your questions about how to lead a strategic planning session. Hope you enjoy the tips and assist techniques outlined in this article for keeping strategic management meetings and group activities active and productive whether offline or online.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 5 concepts of strategic management.

The five concepts of strategic management are environmental scanning, strategy formulation, strategy implementation, evaluation and control, and strategic leadership such as providing guidance and oversight through core activities.

What do you discuss in a strategy meeting?

The agenda in a strategy meeting will vary by organization and industry but typically focuses on understanding the landscape and agreeing on strategic direction.

What is a strat meeting?

A strat meeting, or strategic meeting, is a gathering of executives, managers and other key stakeholders within an organization to discuss strategic planning and direction.

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Strategic planning meeting FAQs

What miro tools can be used to facilitate strategic planning meetings.

Miro offers a range of robust tools specifically designed to enhance your strategic planning meetings. From interactive presentations to pre-built templates, real-time collaboration features, and integrated video and chat, Miro is designed to facilitate seamless brainstorming, visualization of complex strategies, and effective team collaboration.

Can Miro support me in every stage of my strategic planning?

Absolutely! Miro empowers you throughout every stage of strategic planning. It helps in idea generation, organization, prioritization, and execution. With our collaborative features, you can work together with your team in real time, ensuring everyone is aligned and moving towards your strategic goals effectively and efficiently.

Can I make a strategic planning meeting agenda in Miro?

Yes, indeed. Miro allows you to create a customized strategic planning meeting agenda. You can visualize your agenda items, set timeframes, assign responsibilities, and even link related documents or tasks. It's a great way to keep your meetings on track and ensure every important point is covered.

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what is a strategic planning meeting

How to Facilitate a Strategic Planning Session [2024 Strategic Planning Workshop]

By Ted Skinner

strategy planning

Annual & Quarterly Planning

how to facilitation a strategic planning session

At Rhythm Systems, our consultants are trained strategic facilitators who are crucial in strategic planning. They are planning experts who help you get the most ROI from your meeting with their expert facilitation skills. We have facilitated hundreds of successful Strategic Planning , Annual Planning , and Quarterly Planning sessions for our clients. In this blog post, we will share expert insights from these sessions so that you can scale up your company. Strategy planning (and expert facilitation) is vital as the longer-term strategic priorities drive the shorter-term goals, projects, and actions with complete organizational alignment .

Note to strategic CEOs: Along with our ability to educate, coach, and facilitate specific content and methodology during on-site sessions, one of the main reasons CEOs choose to bring us in to run their sessions is so that the CEO can fully participate and implement their 5 year plan template . It is impossible for a CEO to effectively facilitate a session with all the stakeholders and fully participate simultaneously. The CEO's contribution and participation are significant in reaching the desired outcome. Session facilitation is an extra burden that is better placed on another team member or an expert facilitator. You should learn to be a good facilitator by using tips and tricks or consulting with us to see if hiring an expert makes sense.

Free Guide: How to Facilitate a Strategic Planning Session

Strategic planning facilitation step 1: think through the purpose and outcome of the meeting.

Stephen Covey advises us to "begin with the end in mind." What is the purpose of this meeting? What do we hope to accomplish? Who should attend? What are our strategic objectives for this workshop? What work should the meeting participants get done before the meeting (research and homework)? What are the specific outcomes or outputs we are looking for from this strategic planning session? What is the role of a facilitator in a strategic planning session? Do we need a plan B for a potential 2025 recession ?

Creating an Objective Statement that you can share with the rest of the team in advance is a great way to ensure everyone who attends the meeting has shared goals and expectations for your time together. It will also clarify things for you as you move into step 2 and begin planning for the session. Make sure that this aligns with your mission statement. This differs from team meetings ; setting expectations upfront is critical for your strategic objectives. 

An Objective Statement consists of three parts:

Part 1: TO : (What is the action? What will you do? Start with a verb.)

Part 2. IN A WAY THAT : (How will you do it? List criteria, scope, involvement, success measures, specific tactics, side benefits, or any other relevant information. Use bullet points.)

Part 3. SO THAT : (Why are you doing this? Why is it essential? What is the main benefit?)

Sample Objective Statement for one company's Quarterly Planning Session

QUARTERLY PLANNING OBJECTIVE STATEMENT

TO : Conduct a practical strategic planning session

IN A WAY THAT:

  • Brings the Senior Leadership Team together for two full days to develop an effective strategy
  • Highlights the previous quarter's accomplishments
  • Updates and advances our Annual Plan and long-term goal attainment
  • It allows us to discuss-debate-agree critical topics as a team
  • It prepares us to overcome any potential obstacles to hitting our year-end goals
  • Identifies 3-5 Company Priorities, complete with owners and clear success criteria
  • Identifies clear Individual Priorities for each member of the leadership team
  • Prepares us to begin thinking about next year's Annual Plan
  • It allows us to identify strengths and weaknesses
  • Answers the key questions facing our company and industry
  • It helps us clearly define and communicate our business strategy to the entire organization
  • Fun ideas for strategic planning are always considered and change up the energy in the room

SO THAT : We finish this year strong and set ourselves up for a solid start to next year.

Strategic Planning Facilitation Step 2: Plan all the Details in Advance

Anytime you bring your team together for a meeting, whether for a few hours or days, you invest time, energy, and money. To ensure you get the most out of your investment, you must be adequately prepared. The preparation checklist below will help you.

Learn More Expert Facilitation .Learn more about the Rhythm System, the complete solution for strategy, execution, coaching, methodology, and software.  

Strategic Planning Process Meeting Preparation Checklist

  • Set the date – You will want to determine and set the date as soon as possible so that everyone on your team can attend. The longer you wait, the harder it is to find a time that works. If this is an ongoing, standing meeting, ensure everyone has it on their calendar every time it occurs and actively works to protect the scheduled time with the team.
  • Select the Facilitator – It is essential to pick the right person to facilitate your session. The facilitator is responsible for creating the agenda, preparing content material (slides/visuals), arriving early to ensure setup and materials, testing technology, and facilitating the session. If you must choose someone on your team who will be in attendance, remember to occasionally stop during the meeting and ask their opinion if not previously shared. If you choose someone who would not usually be in attendance, ensure they understand that their job is to facilitate, not offer opinions on discussions they would not typically be involved in. Role clarity is essential.

Select a location— A meeting or planning session in your conference room can be ineffective. The opportunity to lose focus and be interrupted by operational issues increases exponentially. This is fine for short, weekly, routine meetings, but we recommend taking your team off-site for one—to two-day planning sessions. 

  • Choose a Meeting Coordinator – This person is in charge of handling all of the logistics for the meeting, making sure participants have made travel arrangements, the conference room (on-site or off-site) is booked and set up for the session, and that all participants are aware of any homework/preparation that is needed for the session. Use someone on your team who is meticulous with details and have them build a strategic planning checklist for future meetings.
  • Prepare the meeting material – You and the facilitator should refer to your Objective Statement when creating the agenda. Be careful not to overload your agenda. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in the time you have available. Create a basic time plan to accompany your agenda. This will help you know whether or not you are on track during the meeting. Less is more when it comes to slides. The old rule was no more than 6x6 (six words long by six bullets). In today's Twitter and drive-through world, you're better served to stick to 4x4 or, better yet, 3x3. Consider revealing information one bullet point at a time, especially if you must have more than 6x6 on a slide, and always ensure it is written for your target audience.   Use our AI Goal Coach if you have any questions!
  • Email the meeting agenda and pre-work to the attendees - Communicate with all attendees at least two weeks before the session, sharing the objective statement, agenda, and any pre-work you want them to do. Realize that some people - even with proper instruction - may be in the habit of attending meetings unprepared. If you consider the pre-work essential, let the team know that it's mandatory and require them to return it in advance, or instruct them to bring copies to the meeting and build time to share the output into your agenda. This will allow people to think about the strategic goals for themselves and the company ahead of the meeting.
  • Last minute details - Work with the meeting coordinator to ensure all the meeting details have been addressed: supplies ordered, lunch planned, technology arrangements made, attendance confirmed, action plans, etc.

Remember to be realistic about what you can accomplish in the available time and set the agenda appropriately. The strategic planning facilitator must also keep the team focused on having the proper discussions for your organization. Understanding and working with the group dynamics is essential, especially in a large group. This related article can read more details about a virtual strategic planning session .

Strategic Planning Facilitation Step 3: Do the Hard Work of Running the Strategy Session

Three definitions of the role of the facilitator:

  • "An individual who enables groups and organizations to work more effectively, to collaborate and achieve synergy. He or she is a 'content neutral' party who, by not taking sides or expressing or advocating a point of view during the meeting, can advocate for fair, open, and inclusive procedures to accomplish the group's work."
  • "One who contributes structure and process to interactions so groups can function effectively and make high-quality decisions. A helper and enabler whose goal is to support others as they achieve exceptional performance."
  • "The facilitator's job is to support everyone in doing their best thinking and practicing. To do this, the facilitator encourages full participation, promotes mutual understanding, and cultivates shared responsibility. By supporting everyone in doing their best thinking, a facilitator enables group members to search for inclusive solutions and build sustainable agreements."

The word facilitation means to make it easy. Too bad facilitating a group of people isn't. It takes a tremendous amount of energy, focus, quick thinking, and patience to facilitate a meeting. Following the first two steps in this blog post (Step 1: THINK and Step 2: PLAN), you are set up for a successful session. But there is still much work to do.

Here are 15 Tips to keep the strategy session moving positively.

15 Expert Tips for Facilitating a Great Zoom Strategy Meeting

Set ground rules at the beginning of the meeting . Let the team discuss their expectations for full participation, candor, sidebars, interruptions, tangents, and cell phone and computer use. This conversation upfront creates an environment of accountability and high commitment to the meeting. Ground rules will help reduce the stress of group interaction and make it easier to resolve problems when they arise. Capture your ground rules on a flip chart while discussing them and post them for reference throughout the meeting. To start with some energy, I suggest using one of our Zoom icebreakers to get things started.

Trust the process . Remember that you have put a great deal of time into steps 1 & and 2, so you are going into the day with a good game plan. Sometimes, things seem disjointed, or the team needs to understand where you're going. Tell them there is a method to the madness, and ask them to trust the process with you. When utilizing a slide deck and agenda provided by Rhythm Systems, know that the function and content have been tested and proven to work many times. It may only come together at the very end, but if you are going in with a clear objective and well-thought-out agenda, the results you're looking for will follow, and problem-solving will occur.

annual planning

Permit yourself to deviate from the time plan if a topic requires more time than you thought. As long as the additional time is used for good, healthy debates on important issues and not the beating of dead horses, it will be a good use of time. If you do deviate from the time plan, involve the team in deciding how you will make it up. You may choose to stay late or start early one day, or you may decide to cut or shorten the time allowed for another topic. Involving the team in this discussion and decision increases engagement, energy, and commitment.

Celebrate your progress as you move through the session . Reflect on lessons learned and breakthroughs. Acknowledge someone when they're brave enough to bring up a tricky subject. Check in with each other to ensure you're all engaged. After breaks, consider restating what's been accomplished and where you are on the agenda.

Use icebreakers with purpose. Ice breakers are quick, interactive exercises designed to get the team's brain working and mouth moving. They are usually used at the beginning of a session, after breaks, and after lunch. They can also be great for raising the energy level late in the afternoon. A quick Google search will provide hundreds of ideas for icebreakers. One of our favorites is a quick round of victories or good news. This serves several purposes. It allows team members to share information, allows them to get to know each other better, and starts the meeting positively. We recommend that you start every session with some version of good news.

Encourage full and equal participation. A team comprises many individuals, each with their personality and preferred work style. Some are naturally more dominant and expressive, while others may be more thoughtful and reserved. One type is not better than another, and the fact that they're on your team means you value their input. The facilitator's job is to recognize these different styles and run the meeting in a way that gives each person a chance to contribute. This is a good discussion at the beginning of the session as you set the ground rules.

Set clear expectations for full and equal participation and give the team a chance to discuss how they will do this. The facilitator may have to step in throughout the meeting, explicitly calling on individuals who have not spoken up. The facilitator may also design the meeting to include specific opportunities to hear from everyone. Examples of this would be small group breakout sessions or employing different brainstorming methods (see #8.)

Use visual aids effectively. Any combination of flip charts, whiteboards, sticky notes, posters, PowerPoint/Keynote, and handouts will do. We've all seen the person who used every animation tool within PowerPoint - wiggly jiggly icons, annoying animations, slides swiping in from 20 directions in 5 different ways. Don't overdo it; allow your visuals to distract from the meeting. People have different learning styles; Some are visual learners, some auditory, some kinesthetic, and some experiential, so mix it up and use all aids in moderation. Keep in mind that your body language is one of the most essential visual aids that you have; make sure that you make people feel like they are being heard.

Use different methods for brainstorming. Round robin, freewheeling, group pass, and silent reflection are all proven methods you may try. Brainstorming aims to produce a comprehensive list of potential ideas, solutions, or plans. When done well, brainstorming should increase participation, reduce inhibition, stimulate ideas, increase creativity, and be a group process.

Strategic Planning Brainstorming Methods:

  • Focus on quantity first and capture as many ideas as possible.
  • Encourage and welcome all ideas. Ask the team to dig deep and think beyond the obvious. Every idea submitted should be captured.
  • Hold off on judgment, criticism, or reality checks - this should be a "safe time." Ideas will be discussed and debated later.
  • Use short phrases and bullet points, not paragraphs and lengthy explanations.
  • "Piggyback" on others' ideas. Outlandish ideas can be stepping stones to good, workable ideas.
  • Although giving a brief overview of brainstorming rules can be helpful, there's no need to go into an elaborate explanation. "Let's brainstorm annual priorities moving us toward our 3-5 year strategic plan . Remember, let's not judge the ideas but capture and understand them first." Then, begin your chosen method of brainstorming. As you move through the process, anticipate that someone will break the rules - that's when the facilitator steps in and corrects.

Round Robin

Ask for a volunteer to start the brainstorming process with one idea. The facilitator captures the idea on a flip chart for all to see. Ask the volunteer to choose whether to go to the right or the left, allowing the person sitting next to them to offer one idea. The facilitator continued to chart the answers, going around the room until everyone could contribute at least one picture. You can then take a second pass around the room if the ideas are flowing freely, or you can open it up to anyone who has another idea not previously mentioned.

Freewheeling

Suppose you're working with a group where equal participation is not an issue. In that case, you can open the brainstorming session up by asking for ideas and allowing people to offer suggestions in any order. Use the participants' words to chart all ideas with short bullet points. This method can go fast, so ask for a volunteer to help chart answers using a second flip chart.

Each person in the group starts with a piece of paper, writes down one idea, and then passes the piece of paper to the next person. The following person builds on the original idea, adding a few thoughts. Continue around the room until the owner returns their original piece of paper. You can then ask each person to take a minute to review their original idea and share it with the team.

Silent Reflection

Some people need a little time to think and formulate their ideas. Instruct the team that you give them a certain amount of time (5-15 minutes, depending on the topic) to think and write down their ideas. You can ask them to write their thoughts on sticky notes, one idea per note, or list them on paper. If you use sticky notes, you can ask them to read one statement at a time and place them on the wall, grouping all similar ideas. If they are written on notebook paper, you can use the round-robin method to share and chart the ideas.

Use a Parking Lot.

Stay on track by creating a place to capture ideas inappropriate to the discussion at hand but that you don't want to lose. Make it visible to everyone using a whiteboard, tear sheet, etc. This helps you keep the meeting focused without chasing too many "rabbit trails." It is important to honor all ideas, questions, and concerns during a session, and by placing the item in your parking lot, you send the subtle message that all contributions are essential. Refer to the parking lot items while facilitating when appropriate and review any unresolved items at the end of your session, moving them to an action item list. In a strategy meeting, you must keep the team on task; using a parking lot can help you accomplish that.

Deal with difficult people ahead of time.

Before your meeting, think about participants who tend to be outspoken, dominate, or argue in meetings. Think also about participants who may have felt bullied or intimidated or have a history of not participating openly. Have a conversation with these people before the session, explaining your concern and asking for their help in creating a healthy and productive environment. When talking to the dominant person, helpful language might include, "Jim, I'm trying to increase participation in this meeting. I appreciate your outspokenness and value your input. If it's ok with you, I'd like you to go last so I may first hear the rest of the team's thinking before you share yours." Be sure to reevaluate and give that participant a chance to share.

This is also an excellent topic to discuss while setting ground rules at the beginning of the session. Discuss the expectations for politeness and tone during the meeting, and ask the team for permission to point it out if things get off track. If a conflict arises during a meeting, the facilitator must be prepared to step in and take control of the meeting. Anytime the discussion becomes accusatory or personal, the facilitator can ask the participant to reword statements so that they are focused on solutions, facts, and business issues, not people and blame. An excellent technique for redirecting a heated discussion is to ask the team to discuss their learnings rather than their frustrations. Be sure to do this whenever the language becomes personal; before you know it, your team will police this behavior themselves. Conflict resolution is the central role of the facilitator.

Keep the energy high. Enthusiasm is contagious - and so is negativity. Some people need to doodle while they think, some need toys like a Koosh ball or rubber Gumby, others need talk time with other participants, and others need to stand up or walk around the room from time to time. Think through your meeting day and plan ways to keep the energy high for the entire time to keep the group paying attention.

Have participants work in pairs, write something down, work together on puzzles, make mini-presentations on topics assigned before and after breaks, schedule group breakout sessions, etc. Remember that the room's energy is often a notch or two below the facilitator's, so it is vital to keep your energy high. Try to get plenty of sleep the night before, eat well, have plenty of water on hand, and take breaks as needed, as group facilitation is challenging!

Get to a consensus. Many discussion topics require moving the group from several individuals, independent ideas to one agreed-upon group decision. Consensus can be defined professionally as an acceptable resolution everyone on the team can support. It does not mean that everyone on the team has to agree that this is their number one favorite resolution, just that they will support the decision in the future. Supporting a decision means that you will speak positively about the decision to others and do everything in your power to ensure the decision results in a positive outcome. You will not say," They decided."

Explaining the definition of consensus and support to the team at the beginning of the discussion can help resolve the issue. An essential step in reaching a consensus is ensuring that all ideas are evaluated and everyone's perspective is heard. This is important in getting buy-in for the conclusion and generating the best ideas and solutions. Structuring a process for team decision-making is a critical facilitation skill.

Expert Tips for Strategic Planning Decision-Making:

  • Use the brainstorming tips above to identify all viable solutions (see #8)
  • Combine and link similar ideas
  • Use structured methods, like The Six Thinking Hats, to help take the emotion out of the discussion.
  • Set a time limit for discussion on each potential solution
  • Make sure everyone is participating in the debate and, make sure everyone is actively listening and applying their listening skills
  • Work to narrow the options down to as few as possible
  • Don't be afraid to call for a vote to see how close the group is to completing the agreement
  • If there are just one or two holdouts, seek to understand what and how firm their objections are
  • Engage the group in troubleshooting to minimize the potential negative impact identified by any complaints or concerns raised
  • Restate the most popular resolution, adding one or two points addressing the concerns raised, and ask the holdouts if they can support that decision
  • Sometimes, people will get caught up in the moment and continue the debate just to argue. Ask the holdout if they will lose sleep if the group moves forward with the proposed resolution. Refer to the definition of support and ask if they will support the decision.
  • With consensus, there is often compromise. Only some get everything they want out of the final decision. However, because you created an environment where everyone has had an opportunity for input, the conclusions reached will often be very successful and highly supported.
  • If you are running a virtual strategic planning session,  visit the link to learn some additional tips to help you get the most out of your planning session.

Document and publish the Who-What-When. Who-What-When action items are leading indicators of successful meeting outcomes. How often do teams meet, discuss, and debate critical topics, then set the next meeting date only to discover that no progress has been made at the next meeting? As the facilitator, it is essential that you make sure that every critical discussion ends in a documented action captured in an action list of Who is accountable (one person only), What they will do, and When it will be completed. Create a habit of ending meetings with a review of the Who-What-When and beginning discussions with confirmation on completing the actions assigned.

Finish strong. People won't always remember what you do or say, but they will never forget how you made them feel. And what they will remember most is how they felt at the end of the meeting. Whether you completed every objective you laid out or worked through the agenda, it's essential to recognize the team's accomplishments and celebrate their focus, contribution, time invested, and hard work. Finish the meeting by recapping the decisions, reviewing the actions committed, and confirming the next steps. We also recommend allowing everyone to share how they feel as they leave. You can go around the room and ask each person to share a one-word/one-phrase closing statement or share one takeaway or breakthrough they gained during the meeting.

Ask for feedback . Great facilitators are not born overnight. They develop and improve over years of experience, and the most experienced facilitators know that asking for feedback is the best way to improve. Before they leave, ask the team to write down one bright spot from the meeting and one area to work on or do differently next time. Please feel free to email everyone after the session asking for feedback. Or, you can ask for a quick one-on-one conversation with a few trusted advisors.

You would like to encourage feedback on the agenda, pre-session communication, design of the day, homework, and how you performed and handled difficult situations during the session. If you want to receive feedback, please take it seriously. Don't take it personally or complain to others about it. All feedback, even negative feedback, is a gift. Thank the person who shared with you, and I'd like to make every effort to incorporate all helpful suggestions into your next session. Stay encouraged and stick with it. You will improve every time you facilitate, so please volunteer and look for opportunities to practice. Over time, the tips in this blog post will become second nature. Good luck!

This blog post shares tips and tricks for facilitation from the Facilitator guide written by Chris Cosper and Barry Pruit and adapted to a blog post by Ted Skinner. If you'd like to download the strategic planning manual, please click here . We hope you enjoy the facilitation techniques outlined in this article to keep group discussions positive and productive. We hope this answers your question about how to lead a strategic planning session; if you want to get the best ROI on your investment of time and energy, please feel free to  drop us a line , and we'll see if it makes sense for you.

Need help aligning your team to achieve your growth goals? Rhythm Systems software was ranked the #1 easiest software to use, with the highest ROI, fastest implementation, and highest adoption rate on G2.  

Read our other strategic planning and facilitation articles below:

Annual Planning: 9 Tips to Focus & Align Your Team with a Great Plan

Annual Planning Playbook: 5 Steps to Create a Winning Annual Plan

How CEOs Can Avoid High-Cost Mistakes in Annual Planning

Best Practices for Annual Planning

16 Strategic Planning Tips to Keep Your Strategic Plan Alive

The CEO Strategy-Execution Gap...And How To Fix It

Choose Your 3-Year Strategic Growth Initiatives Wisely With This 4-Step Process

5 Steps to Getting Started on 3-Year Strategic Plans with Winning Moves

Have you been able to validate your 3 Year Strategic Plan?

Robust 3 Year Strategic Plans to Grow Revenue and Stay Competitive

Don't Confuse Strategic Thinking And Strategy Execution Plans

9 Steps to a New Revenue Growth Strategy [Infographic]

Photo credit: iStock by Getty Images

Ted Skinner

Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images

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Strategic Planning Meeting Agenda Template

Strategic planning meeting agenda template

Access the free agenda in Docs | Download all 50 for $47

This is part of our series on meeting agenda templates. You can edit these strategic planning meeting agendas in Google Docs or Word or print them out. 

Meeting Agenda Templates > Leadership Meeting Agendas > Strategic Planning Meeting Agenda

2-Day Strategic Planning Meeting Agenda

Day 1: goals & celebrations.

Meeting Purpose: Step out of the day-to-day to assess your organization from a higher view and tackle the big, persistent issues.

Suggested Length of First Meeting: 4 hours (with breaks, or across multiple days)

Template: 

  • Meeting Name: [First Day]
  • Date & Location: 
  • Attendees: 

Descriptions:

  • Open discussion: Leave unstructured time open for people to talk and catch up. You want everyone to get a chance to form connections. Especially if your team is remote, these forty-five minutes can be an important part of building team trust. 
  • Session goals & agenda : Review the goals for the strategic planning session and the multi-day agenda. 
  • Goal achievements : Use the next fifteen minutes to focus on the good stuff. What goals were hit in the previous quarter or year? 
  • Client headlines : For this fifteen-minute segment, share some great client stories you want to celebrate. This is the time to bring up the stories you have from the last year or quarter and to share the good customer feedback you’ve received.
  • People celebrations: Shine the spotlight on the team members who have been doing great work. 
  • Vision & mission: For the next hour, discuss the company’s future. What is the company’s vision for three years from now? What about five or ten years from now? 
  • Do our core values inform behavior at the company?
  • Are there any core values we aren’t following that we should be?
  • Are there any core values that are no longer relevant for making decisions?
  • Do we need to update or adjust any core values to make them more helpful?

Day 2: Strtegic Analysis & Planning

Meeting Purpose: Step out of the day-to-day to assess your organization from a higher view and tackle bigger, persistent issues.

Suggested Length: 4 hours (with breaks or across multiple days)

  • Meeting Name: [Second Day]
  • SWOT analysis : Use the first hour to systematically analyze your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Strengths and weaknesses are considered internal factors, while opportunities and threats are external factors. 
  • Strategic priorities: Once you’ve finished the SWOT analysis, use this next hour to decide what the company is going to focus on to achieve its mission and goals. This may tie in with the opportunities (or risks) you discovered in the SWOT analysis. This conversation will need to whittle down the actions you could take to a workable amount that the team can execute. 
  • Scorecard: In this hour, decide on what metrics you’ll be measuring . How will you know when the company has been successful? You’ll need to decide on the target number for each metric and how often you’ll review the goals. 
  • Strategy map : A strategy map is a framework that lets you see the goals of the company and how the company is meeting these goals. 

BONUS: Strategic Planning Board Meeting Agenda

strategic planning board meeting agenda

Purpose: To evaluate the organization’s long-term goals and strategic direction, and to align resources and efforts with the envisioned future.

  • Attendees : Board members, CEO, key executive leadership
  • Frequency : Annually
  • Duration : 220 minutes
  • Outline the goals for the strategic planning session
  • Reaffirm the organization’s foundational elements
  • Analysis of the previous period’s results against strategic goals
  • Presentation on market trends, competitive landscape, and regulatory changes
  • Brainstorming and discussions on strategic priorities and objectives for the upcoming period
  • Break (15 minutes)
  • Discussion on budgeting and resource allocation for new initiatives
  • Setting clear actions, owners, and timelines for strategic initiatives
  • Summary of the strategic plan and next steps

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China's Xi Jinping says China-Hungary relations an 'all-weather' strategic partnership

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  • Xi Jinping on his first European tour in five years
  • Xi in Hungary after visiting France and Serbia
  • Hungary a big supporter of China's Belt and Road infrastructure project

Hungarian Prime Minister Orban welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Ferenc Liszt International Airport in Budapest

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At least seven people were killed and 17 injured when a whole section of a Russian apartment block collapsed after it was struck by a Soviet-era missile launched by Ukraine and shot down by Russia, Russian officials said.

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Boston Public Library Trustees Strategic Planning Committee Meeting

There will be a m eeting of the Trustees Strategic Planning Committee on May 10 at 8:30 a.m.

Central Library, Commonwealth Salon, 700 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116  (must enter via Dartmouth Street entrance)

Discussion Topics

I.    Committee Chair Report                                       Christian Westra, Committee Chair

A.    Reading of EDI statement B.    Roll Call  C.    Approval of Meeting Minutes from March 28, 2024              II.    Landscape Review and Discussion           David Leonard, President

A.    BPL’s current state and point of view B.    City of Boston’s current goals  C.    Public Library case stories / peer review         Gensler: Erin Corcoran, Patricia Nobre, and Margaret Sullivan (MSS) 

III.    Strategic Plan Updates          Gensler: Erin Corcoran, Patricia Nobre, and Margaret Sullivan (MSS) 

A.    Overall methodology and process overview   B.    Where we are        1.    Review of Updated Roadmap and Timeline

C.    Emerging Directions Discussion 1.    What we’ve heard from previous workshops 2.    Emerging priorities and opportunities 3.    Framework for the Mission, Vision, Value and Strategic Priorities 4.    The road ahead and what’s next

IV.    New Business                                                                                                                                                                             Jose C. Masso III, Committee Vice Chair 

A.    Confirm July meeting date 

V.    Public Comment                                                                                                                                                                  *Please sign up within the first 30 minutes of the meeting to support effective time management.  On occasion, additional public comments on matters formally on the agenda may be allowed at the discretion of the Chair, and time permitting.  Members of the public are also reminded that comments may be submitted in writing to the Clerk of the Board up to 24 hours in advance. 

VI.    Adjournment          Christian Westra, Committee Chair 

  • Contact: Pamela Carver
  • Neighborhoods: Back Bay
  • Posted: 05/03/2024 - 1:28PM
  • Resources: Official Filed Posting

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San Mateo County Transit District will hold community meeting for Strategic Plan on May 15

Media Contact: Randol White, 415-515-7624 

The San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans) is hosting a multilingual virtual community meeting to gather public feedback on elements of its Strategic Plan . The Strategic Plan will serve as a roadmap for the next 10 years and includes the District’s mission, vision, goals, core values, as well as a series of action items. 

The Strategic Plan will guide SamTrans bus service and infrastructure and the District’s role as a managing agency. It will identify and align existing and future projects across all departments to address goals like innovative mobility, improving the employee experience, and collaborating with regional partners to improve transit connections in the Bay Area. It will not provide policy direction for Caltrain, the Transportation Authority, or Express Lanes Joint Powers Authority.  

The District is asking for public input to help prioritize various action items outlined in the draft Strategic Plan. Individuals can learn more about the Strategic Plan and provide feedback at the upcoming meeting. 

Multilingual Virtual Community Meeting 

Wednesday, May 15 

5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. 

Languages: English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese 

Zoom link: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/84918868277  

Call-in Option: +1 669 900 6833 

For more information or if you have any questions, please contact [email protected] .  

About SamTrans:  

The San Mateo County Transit District operates 71 routes and two on-demand service areas. Funded in part by a half-cent sales tax, the district also provides administrative support for Caltrain and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority. SamTrans has provided bus service to San Mateo County customers since 1976.  

Check out our most recent Next Stop newsletter and subscribe . Also, follow SamTrans on Facebook and X.  

Free translation assistance is available. Para traducción llama al 1.800.660.4287; 如需翻譯,請電 1.800.660.4287. 

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IMAGES

  1. The Strategic Planning Process in 4 Steps

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  2. Strategic Planning Meeting

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  3. Sample Strategic Planning Agenda: 2 days In-Person

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  4. Organizational Strategic Plan- Elements and Examples

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  5. 6 Elements Of Effective Strategic Planning

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  6. How to hold a strategic planning meeting

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VIDEO

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  2. How to hold a strategic planning meeting

    Whether you're holding a remote, hybrid, or in-person meeting, this process will help you out. 1. Define a clear outcome for the meeting. A strategic planning meeting can go totally off-the-rails if it's held without a defined objective. That's why the very first step is to define a clear, tangible goal for the meeting.

  3. Your Strategy Planning Meeting Agenda (with Template)

    A strategic planning meeting should include: A review of organizational objectives. An assessment of how you are doing against those objectives. Decisions around what needs to be sped up, slowed down, started or stopped in order to better align activity with the objectives. If you think about the point of having a strategy discussion, it's ...

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  5. What You Must Do (and NEVER do) During Strategic Meetings

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  6. How to hold effective strategic planning meetings

    1. Set an agenda for the strategic planning meeting ‍. It is important to set an agenda for the strategic planning meeting to ensure that there is a shared understanding of the goals and objectives of the meeting. 2. Make sure participants are on the same page about the goals and objectives of the meeting ‍.

  7. Run Strategic Planning Meetings: Tips, Agenda Examples & Tools

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    2. Select the Facilitator. Facilitation of a strategic planning meeting requires a strong leader with good communication skills. The facilitator is responsible for creating the agenda, gathering content materials, and arriving early to the retreat to ensure that materials are in place and the setup is correct.

  12. The Strategic Planning Process in 4 Steps

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  13. How to Run a Strategic Planning Meeting (Strategy Definition)

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  15. What is Strategic Planning? Definition, Importance, Model, Process and

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