Strategy planning is key to an organization's success. Use this free meeting agenda template to define your strategies for achieving company goals
Some icebreakers and sharing the meeting objectives and time frame.
Talk about the current situation of the company to get a clear common understanding.
Where are we right now as an organization?
What did we do well in the past, and what can we improve?
Reflect on the company’s visions, values, and mission statement to set the direction.
Where are we going? Is this still our vision?
How are we going to get there?
Do a SWOT analysis to determine.
Discuss the strategic priorities and how to achieve them.
What should our first priority be to achieve the vision?
Assign accountability for items.
@name Task by DUE-DATE
“Without competitors, there would be no need for strategy, for the sole reason for strategic planning is to help the company gain, as efficiently as possible, a sustainable edge over its competitors.”
- Kenichi Ohmae, Former Professor and Dean of UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
Simply put, strategic planning is the process of developing and defining actionable steps to achieve a company’s vision. The process typically involves determining the organization’s goals, identifying the priorities, and building a strategic plan.
Realistically and as we can see from the earlier quote, the end goal of strategic planning is gaining an edge over the competition by converting your vision into actionable steps. Achieving this requires an accurate assessment and understanding of the company, industry, and competition.
Strategic planning is, however, not a one-off or unilateral activity. It is a continuous process that involves periodic reviews and iterations. This, precisely, is the bottom line for why companies hold strategic planning meetings.
“Strategic planning will help you fully uncover your available options, set priorities for them, and define methods to achieve them.”
- Robert J. McKain, Author
In short, a strategic planning meeting helps break big, daunting goals into manageable steps and therefore guides the company to achieve its vision.
Other reasons strategic planning meetings are so important are that they help:
Set clear priorities for the company and its employees
Receive direct reports from employees responsible for individuals tasks or projects
Stakeholders jointly review and monitor the progress of ongoing operations or projects
Identify problems and opportunities within and across departments and teams
Receive immediate feedback on ideas
Foster collaborative brainstorming and idea-generation
It is safe to conclude that strategic planning meetings are one of the meetings that should never be an email.
The first stage in the development of a strategic plan involves deciding who needs to be involved in the planning meeting. Generally, it will be appropriate to include the following:
The company’s leadership staff that will guide the planning process.
The internal auditors who will monitor its implementation, e.g., the Management Committee.
The departments or teams that will be implementing, contributing to, and impacted by the plan.
External stakeholders (e.g., consultants, community leaders, external auditors, funding organizations, investors, and advisors).
There are no definite rules for when or how frequently strategy planning meetings should be held. However, it is common practice for companies to hold them at the start of a new major project or the beginning or end of the year.
Ultimately, the cadence of the meetings is up to your company. This decision should be based on your goals for the strategic planning meeting and the complexity of the plan. But quarterly meetings with more frequent reviews within teams would be ideal in ensuring that the company stays focused and on track to completing its goals.
Strategic planning meetings usually last anywhere between one and a few days, depending on the strategic issues to be discussed, the number of decisions to be made, and the complexity of the planning process.
The meetings might last for a stretch of hours daily, with scheduled breaks in between.
Like most meetings, strategic planning sessions do not have a fixed agenda. The content of the meeting would often depend on the type of strategic issues to be discussed.
However, the template above offers a great guide for standard strategy meetings and can be tailored to suit all kinds of situations.
Starting with some icebreakers helps to put everyone at ease and ready to speak.
You may ask participants to share what they think of the company’s latest direction or simply run an interactive icebreaker game to engage them, for example, “One Word at a Time”. The key is to keep it short, light, and relatable.
Pro Tip: If you are holding a hybrid or remote meeting, you could divide the participants into teams and discuss in a private chat room.
Since the meeting is likely to extend for a long time, you can then state the meeting objectives and timeframe, which helps everyone know exactly what to expect.
Even though this is often included in the agenda shared before the meeting, taking the time to run through them is an opportunity to clarify the meeting goals and expected outcomes while ensuring that everyone is aligned on them.
The conversation here should revolve around the company's current situation to provide everyone with a common understanding of the company’s affairs.
There are two main questions to answer here:
Where are we right now as a company?
What did we do well in the past, and what can we improve?
Give a rundown of the current state of the company, down to its financials, current projects, and performance in the period under review. It is also expedient to look into how much progress has been made.
A good way to put your company’s performance into perspective is by comparing it to your goals and the performance of your major competitors within the industry.
Highlight where the company has succeeded and also note areas for improvement. These are invaluable in spotlighting focus areas of future strategic plans.
The best way to set the direction of the strategy conversation after looking at the current state is by reflecting on the company’s visions, values, and mission statement. This helps the company to arrive at an approach that is true to its values and overarching vision.
Some important questions to ask here are:
Where are we going? Is this still our vision?
How are we going to get there?
What is important to us as a company and why?
Reflecting on the company’s vision, values, and mission is also an effective way to determine what to prioritize and how to allocate limited resources once it becomes necessary to do so.
The next line of action is to conduct a SWOT analysis to determine your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Ideally, the SWOT analysis is conducted by experts who understand the company, its market, and its industry. This is because the analysis requires a thorough look at both the internal and external affairs of the company, and this is best done by a trained professional.
But as a general guide, here are things you should look out for:
Strengths: Strengths are your company’s strong points, such as your network, unique knowledge, and workforce. It could also refer to areas you succeed at, such as sales, customer retention, or reputation.
Some questions you can ask to determine your company’s strengths include:
What is our competitive advantage?
What are our best-performing departments and why?
Which areas have we experienced growth in recently and why?
Weaknesses: Weaknesses are areas and factors that put your company at a disadvantage or that you have to improve on to achieve your goals or become more competitive.
You can determine your weaknesses by asking:
In what ways are we losing to our competition and why?
Are our operational methods up-to-date with current threads and effective?
Why do consumers prefer our competition’s products?
Are our employees satisfied with their work conditions, and do they have all they need to perform optimally?
Opportunities: Opportunities are gaps in the industry that you can fill or other external factors that you can leverage to achieve your business goals.
Unlike strengths, opportunities are purely external. So, while strengths could include things like your unique value proposition or the quality of your employees, examples of opportunities are government policy or unreached potential customers.
The following questions could help you discover your opportunities:
What is the press reportage on our company or other companies in our industry?
What is the prevalent customer sentiment on using products similar to ours?
Are there unreached or underserved communities that need our products and/or services?
Are there any new government regulations that are potentially beneficial to the company?
Threats: Threats are external issues that could frustrate or jeopardize your company’s growth or success. They are usually out of the company’s control but can sometimes be managed by adaptation or avoided if pre-empted.
Some questions that could help you identify threats are:
Are there new competitors in the market?
Will inflation affect our customers’ buying habits and interest in our products?
What macroeconomic issues is our industry grappling with?
It is important that you explore the lengths and breadths of your SWOT analysis during your strategic planning meeting. So, create ample time to have the conversation and include all relevant stakeholders and experts to ensure that the analysis is complete and accurate.
The next line of action is to discuss the strategic priorities and how to achieve them.
After making deliberating on what the company needs to achieve in the order of priority, the conversation should shift to how to achieve each of its strategic priorities.
This session is often the heaviest in brainstorming. So, it is vital to steer the conversation in a way that encourages the creative input of everyone in the meeting by asking targeted questions and seeking clarifications when suggestions are unclear.
When scheduling the action planning conversation, consider what the peak performance hours of the participants are so that participants can attend the session when they are still energized and eager to participate.
The execution plan should be detailed enough to serve as a step-by-step guide for everyone who was not present at the meeting. You should also include how success will be measured and the cadence for reviews.
It is not enough to simply define the action items and next steps at the end of the meeting. You should also assign them key performance indicators and due dates to ensure that someone is responsible for executing them and providing reports of their progress. This keeps everyone accountable.
Leaving action items unassigned makes them more likely to be forgotten and left uncompleted.
You can conclude the meeting by asking with a summary of the conversation and important resolutions. It also helps to reiterate the goals of the strategic plan and timeline for reporting and execution.
After this, leave a few minutes for the last round of feedback or questions so that participants can share their thoughts on the meeting and resolutions.
One-day strategic planning meetings are often hectic and take a chunk of the work day. Sitting and deliberating the entire workday might leave everyone exhausted and diminish productivity.
So, it is important to structure your agenda in a way that allows participants to have enough time to catch their breath and replenish lost energy.
Here’s a winning sample you can use:
9:00 am - 9:15 am Welcome
9:15 am - 10:00 am Current State of the Company
10:00 am - 10:45 am Review of Company Vision
10:45 am- 11:15 am Break
11:15 am - 12:30 pm SWOT Analysis
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm Lunch Break
1:30 pm - 2:30 pm Determine Top Priorities
2:30 pm - 3:30 pm Assign tasks and responsibilities for strategy execution
3:30 pm - 4:00 pm Break
4:00 pm - 4:30 pm Summing Up
“Strategic planning is useless unless there is first a strategic vision”
- John Naisbitt, author, Megatrends
Running a successful strategic planning meeting requires a clear vision, adequate preparation, diligent execution, and follow-up. This suggests that you cannot drop the ball in any phase of the meeting.
While this might sound a little intimidating, it is not. You can run a successful meeting by following these steps.
The first thing you should do to run a successful strategic planning meeting is to set the meeting objective. A meeting with a clear goal might be a waste of time.
A clear objective does not only provide clarity on what to achieve in the meeting but also gives meaning to it. You can set the meeting objectives by doing a preliminary review of the company and/or discussing with other members of the company’s leadership.
Imagine going into a meeting without a plan or an agenda. It might go something like this:
Considering the importance and complexity of strategic planning meetings, you shouldn’t attempt to wing it or simply go with the flow. Instead, map out your agenda to include essential talking points and issues you would like to address under each item.
You can simply apply the agenda provided by Airgram above and customize it to save time. You can also check out other meeting templates for inspiration.
A note of warning here is to make sure that you align with other relevant stakeholders, particularly the company’s leadership, while preparing the agenda. The agenda should not only reflect what you think is relevant or important to talk about. It should have the input and buy-in of relevant stakeholders.
Bonus tip: If you are expected to arrange the meeting, try to get familiar with each item and how the conversation is expected to flow.
Once your meeting agenda is ready, share it with other meeting participants so that they would know what to expect and how to prepare for the meeting.
Airgram also affords you an easy way to share your meeting agenda with the meeting invite so that all participants can view them concurrently on their calendars.
Your preparation should consist majorly of research and putting all the facts, figures, and documents you need for the meeting together.
After identifying the meeting objectives and structuring the talking points, you should have a fair view of the information you would need during the meeting. So, curate relevant facts and figures on your company and the competition to present them in clear and understandable terms to the meeting participants.
Creating a checklist of all the information and documents you require during the meeting will ensure that you do not leave anything out. Once you have all you need, put them in the right order so that your presentation is easy to follow.
Your preparation might also include assigning duties or demanding information from some meeting participants. It is good practice to inform them of their responsibilities and all the information required from them ahead of the meeting so that they have adequate time to put them together.
We discussed ice-breaking a bit earlier. This is a great way to start meeting on a relaxed note.
It is easy for some participants to come into the meeting nervous or unsure of how to approach the conversation. But breaking the ice by starting with a quick check-in that makes people feel like they are cared for or with a funny story can help ease their tension or anxiety.
Driving full participation by everyone in the meeting requires creating an environment in and outside of the meeting that makes people feel comfortable speaking up.
This is often a lot of work because it transcends one-off meetings and often goes to the root of the company’s culture. However, here are a few things you can do:
Be accountable and transparent
Tolerate and value dissent
Ask for feedback and encourage questions
Do not appear impatient or disinterested when a participant is speaking
Do not belittle or condemn suggestions or ideas
It also helps to encourage people who often do not participate during meetings and ask them questions or give them responsibilities ahead of the meeting so that they are required to state their input.
Note-taking during strategic planning meetings is non-negotiable. You have to document key points, action items, suggestions, feedback, concerns, deadlines, and other relevant issues while the conversation is ongoing.
This helps you to keep track of every important thing that was said and store information that could be referred to in the future.
Airgram’s live transcription and audio-visual live recording make note-taking significantly easier. The app takes complete notes of everything all the participants say during the meeting. You can then review your notes after the meeting to highlight the important points made.
It is easy for participants to get distracted and move the conversation to unrelated issues. A few things you can do to keep the meeting on track include
Framing the conversation to reflect the meeting objectives and talking points highlighted in the agenda
Raise and entertain only valid and relevant concerns
Ask unambiguous, targeted questions that are relevant to the subject matter of the meeting
Given the limited time you have for all your deliberations, you have to take charge of the meeting and ensure that other participants do not derail the conversation.