DeathtoStock_EnergyandSerenity2You have a mission, vision, and values statement.  They are on wall posters and placards, in your employee handbook, and have their own page on you website.  Do they drive your organization toward the future or help you manage the status quo?

If it’s been more than two or three years since your last focused strategic planning retreat, your organization may be managing status quo, and you might be doing that in a highly effective way.  On the other hand, you may find a growing disconnect between day-to-day operations and trends you are beginning to see on the horizon.  Continuing on this path means those trends have a tendency to “sneak up on you” – and even though you saw them, you suddenly realize they are already here and your organization is not prepared to take advantage of the opportunities or mitigate the threats brought by the changes.

Strategic planning retreats can be time consuming, and can take away from  what you consider to be the constant necessity for managing the operations of the organization.  However, that is part of the reason it is so important and critical to take the time to step outside of operations, reflect on your past and current situation, and then plan for the future.  Depending on your industry, and how frequently your management team has taken time out for planning, a focused retreat of even 1/2 day can help.  Others may need one or two full planning days.

The purpose of retreating offsite (or at least to an onsite conference room that gets your management team outside of the operational duties for the day, is the same reason to bring in a facilitator to guide the planning session.  To provide an atmosphere of reflection and vision-casting that are the precursor to developing an operational (tactical) implementation plan to move your organization toward its future.

From the perspective of a strategic planning facilitator for Leader Discovery, one of the major rewards I see from serving clients in both for profit and non-profit organizations during these retreat-style planning sessions is an amazing shared clarity of purpose among management team members when they are freed up to really focus on the organization as a whole versus their individual functional area. The process brings management together into a true team, and allows the facilitator to sometimes play devils advocate to shed light on barriers that could be holding the organization back from truly capitalizing on future opportunities.  What benefits have you derived from taking time out to update your strategic planning?