Prior to the strategic session, it is important that the organization prepare appropriately. The following information is designed to provide an objective process by which the firm can assess where it stands within industry, as well as with its core stakeholders. Take a deep breath, be open-minded; defensiveness has no role in this exercise:
- Have available and reviewed appropriately objective data from/about stakeholders i.e.,
- Stakeholder satisfaction surveys i.e., customers, shareholders, employees, etc.
- Firm’s performance data – financial, sales and marketing, production, etc.
- Industry benchmarks (if available) – this will assist in comparing firm performance to industry.
- Current and anticipated external environmental changes in: industry, politically, economically, social, technologically, legally (compliance, safety, etc.), and environmentally (See PESTLE Analysis below).
- Pull forth and have at the ready your firm’s:
Review at the beginning of the exercise, and then at the end of the exercise if the vision, mission, values and purpose still firmly support the position of the organization, and reflect clearly on its mandates, and those of its owners.
- Values, and
- Purpose : Purpose/Rally Statement for staff/team
- Invite to your strategy session, senior managers and even, perhaps, carefully selected stakeholders whom you believe will provide a meaningful contribution to the process. All guests should be prepared to sign a non-disclosure, to provide assurance of confidentiality.
- Preferably, the meeting should be held off-site in an environment that promotes good discussion, away from the distractions and interruptions of daily business operations.
- Participants should be comfortable (business casual is often recommended, if professional dress is usual dress code in the office).
- Catering should offer healthy options to keep energy levels strong. Avoid sugary foods, and offer protein in the morning with healthy options for beverages.
- Offer fresh air and stretch breaks to keep energy levels primed.
- Room temperature should be optimal for comfort.
- Room set-up should optimize group breakout sessions, if needed.
- Provide flip charts, sticky notepaper and markers for feedback.
- Consider a facilitator that is not directly involved with the organization, but can assist with facilitating insights and bridging to core observations.
- Participants should be encouraged and feel free to openly and respectfully share and dialogue. The focus is on ensuring the best outcomes for the organization, and a sustainable and strong future.
- Expect that this component is the beginning of the journey. Make an organizational commitment to investing concerted energy toward completion, and successful execution.
The following are selected analytical tools to encourage robust discussions toward meaningful insights. It is helpful to use some of these concurrently; returning to fill in spots as more information comes to light. Do take a moment at the end of the session to review and note if there are any new insights to garner from the overall exercise.