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  • Writer's pictureMike Bensi

What is Your Plan to Plan?

Fall is one of my favorite times of year. The leaves are changing. It gets darker earlier. Kids then go to bed earlier. And I get to eat their Halloween candy while they sleep.

It truly is the most wonderful time of year.

I also love fall because it is a time when companies start thinking about next year. Many companies create the space to allow reflection and planning for the upcoming year. To come together to work on the business rather than in the business, as the old saying goes.

Many leaders get turned off by the word "retreat". It can signify lengthy PowerPoint slide decks or awkward teambuilding activities.

However, the best sessions tend to be the most simple. Consider asking these questions to make sure you create a meaningful session with your team:

  • What will we do? Before you sit down together, define what you want to accomplish during the time . Perhaps it is creating you strategic plan for next year. Or it might be discussing a new target market or addressing operational issues. Keep the goals to a handful (3-5) so you're able to have an achievable agenda.

  • What did we accomplish? So often, leaders are always looking to what's next. But you cannot connect the dots by always looking ahead. Create space to celebrate wins and reviewing goals that have been achieved. Once you acknowledge what worked, look at what didn't get accomplished or the challenges we faced over the past year.

  • What does the future hold? As you look to the future, ask yourself the tough questions. How does our organization fit into the market? What do we want to be known for? When we finish the year, what would be different? These questions allow us to address opportunities and threats that we need to be aware of.

  • What needs to get done? By looking back to the past and into the future, you'll have generated a healthy list of items to tackle. That list, however, may be overwhelming to tackle. As a team, ask the question "What is most important?" Agree as a team the three things the organization will focus on moving forward.

  • Who owns what? You can't leave the room until everyone understands, and agrees who owns what action items. Who will schedule the next session? Who will communicate to the broader team on decisions made? Ensuring next steps and owners are defined will better ensure this planning session doesn't get lost in the whirlwind back at the office.

  • Where is the beer? You've had a long day - or more. Do something fun to celebrate. Golfing is great. And beer is better. You can also use the opportunity to create a social outlet by allowing the team to see the vision you just built. Perhaps visiting another company who is slightly ahead of you to visualize what is next for you all.

What has made for a successful space to reflect for your team and company?

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