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Posts tagged ‘Strategic Planning’

The Strategic Café or “A bottom-up approach to setting a corporate strategy” (Day 2)

As a follow-up to my earlier blog post on this topic, below is the agenda of our meeting as well as the questions asked during the sessions. If you are not already doing so, I strongly recommend you start using this facilitation approach to improve your meetings – including your next Strategy Definition meeting.

Strategic Café

If you would like more information on how to organize your own Strategic Café, you can drop me an email (martin [at] analytical-mind.com). I’d be happy to help.

Strategic Café

Agenda – Day 2

Breakfast (8:00 to 8:25)

Welcome and meeting introduction (8:25 to 8:30)

Presentation of our initiatives for the next 6 months (8:30 to 11:00)

Strategic Café

Pause (11:00 to 11:30)

Strategic Café

Prioritization of our initiatives for the next 6 months (11:30 to 12:15)

Lunch (12:15 to 1:00)

Strategic Café

World Café – Strategic assessment of our environment (1:00 to 2:30)

Background: To correctly set up our strategies, we must understand the environment in which we operate for: our consulting service, our products, and our training.

Question: What are our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in each sector of activity?

Tables:

  • Products
  • Products
  • Consulting Service
  • Consulting Service
  • Training

Mechanics: The participants are allowed 12 minutes at each table.

Strategic Café

Pause (2:30 to 3:00)

World Café – Operational improvements (3:00 to 4:30)

Background: In order to continue our growth, we must give ourselves the means to grow up, what are the improvements that wants to carry out: sales, marketing, finance, human resources and SME.
Question: How does improve on our operations to do the goals we had set?
Tables:
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Human Resources
  • Subject Matter Experts
Mechanics: The participants are allowed 20 minutes at each table.

Strategic Café

The Strategic Café or “A bottom-up approach to setting a corporate strategy” (Day 1)

If you ever had a chance to participate in a Strategy Definition meeting, you either had a good time because YOU were dictating the strategy to follow or had an awful experience because your recommendations were totally altered, down-graded to a point of irrelevance or blown out of proportion making them un-achievable. Needless to say, for most people a Strategy Definition meeting is an experience comparable to a visit to the dentist for a root canal.

As I already mentioned, not only is our organizational structure different from most organizations but so is our strategic process. As opposed to a top-down Strategy Definition where the Top Executives come up with the Strategy, we use a bottom-up approach. Once again, we rely on the wisdom of the crowd to come up with the best strategy we can achieve. Not only is the strategy sound, it also removes the need to obtain buy-in after the fact since employees participated in the definition of their strategy.

We’ve implemented a Balanced Score Cards approach to our strategic planning process 6 months ago. This approach is helping us move forward but the format of our previous meetings left a lot of room for improvement. After asking around for an alternate approach for the meeting, François suggested we try a World Café format. After reading about the principles and the book (The World Cafe: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter), we spent time preparing and planning for the meeting. Needless to say, the Strategic Café was a huge success.

World Café used to Define the Corporate Strategy

I want to sharing with you the agenda of the meeting as well as the questions asked during the sessions. If you are not already doing so, I strongly recommend you start using this facilitation approach to improve your meetings – including your next Strategy Definition meeting.

If you would like more information on how to organize your own Strategic Café, you can drop me an email (martin [at] analytical-mind.com). I’d be happy to help.


Agenda – Day 1

Breakfast (8:00 to 8:25)

Welcome and meeting introduction (8:25 to 8:30)

Warming up the brain cells (8:30 to 8:45)

We asked participants to compete in a friendly game of Rush Hour. The intend was to introduce a fun element in the day in preparation for the meeting.

Strategic Café

World Café – Retrospection of the previous 6 months (8:45 to 10:30)

Background: What should be done to improve the organization on the following 5 dimensions: communication, accountability, prioritization, leadership and decision making?

Question: What are the challenges encountered within the organization and what is my contribution to meeting these challenges?

5 Tables: Communication, Accountability, Prioritization, Leadership, and Decision Making.

Mechanics: The participants are allowed 15 minutes at each table.

At the end of the exercise: Each of the 5 paper-table-cloths is assigned to an individual responsible to come up with a plan of actions.

Strategic Café

Pause (10:30 to 11:00)

Presentation of the new governance model (11:00 to 12:30)

Unfortunately, this part is confidential ;)

Lunch (12:30 to 1:15)

Strategic Café

World Café – Improvement to the well-being of people (1:15 to 3:00)

Background: In 1 year from now, what will be the impact of our organization on the following 4 sectors: employees, existing customers, stakeholders, and potential customers?

Question: What programs should we develop to meet our objective of improving people’s well-being?

4 Tables: Employees, Existing Customers, Potential Customers, and Society.

Mechanics: The participants are allowed 20 minutes at each table.

At the end of the exercise: Participants were asked to select the top 4 priorities for each of the sectors and write them on a master flip-chart. Participants were then asked to vote to select the top 4 priorities overall on which the organization would invest time, energy and resources to move forward.

Strategic Café

Pause (3:00 to 3:30)

Strategic Café

World Café – Selection criteria to prioritize our initiatives for the next 6 months (3:30 to 5:15)

Background: Given the limited resources and the large number of initiatives within our organization, which criteria do we want to use to prioritize and select the initiative that we will move forward using the following areas: Financial, Customer experience, and Employee learning and growth?

Question: Which criteria we will use to determine our priorities?

3 Tables: Financial, Customer Experience, and Employee Learning and Growth

Mechanics: The participants were allowed 20 minutes at each table.

At the end of the exercise: Participants were asked to select the top 4 priorities for each of the sectors and write them on a master flip-chart. Participants were then asked to vote to select the top 4 priorities overall. Those would become the criteria used to prioritize our initiatives for the next 6 months.

Strategic Café

Dinner (6:00 to 8:30)

As an analogy to our Strategic Meeting, we had organized dinner at O’Noir.


I’ll be publishing Day 2 of our meeting shortly.

Monthly Strategic Meeting

As a follow up to my post about our Strategic Planning Meetings and our strategic planning process, this blog post describes the Monthly Strategic Meetings.


Every month, the strategic meeting is an opportunity to monitor and track the achievement of our objectives. It is an opportunity to assess what has been accomplished, to revise our goals and to adapt them based on external and internal changes. In short, this is an opportunity to inspect and adapt. It is also a time to consider new opportunities that may arise.

Objectives

Making decisions on proposals made to the strategic committee and support the people responsible for the various goals by helping the remove the obstacles they encounter.

During the meeting, presenters should explain what they need to achieve their objectives and propose a plan of action that can be accepted (or rejected) by the strategic committee members. The strategic meeting is not intended to present the work completed to date – since it is the responsibility of leaders to ensure that their tasks are completed – but have a plan of action that allows the successful achievement of the objectives.

Frequency

The meeting is held every month (the last Friday of the month).

Attendance

Who can be present at the monthly strategic meetings?

All employees interested and available can attend the meeting as “chickens“.

Participation

Who should be present at the monthly strategic meetings?

Each blue bubble (see diagram below) must have at least one representative present at the meeting. In addition, at least 2 of the following 3 people must be present: President, General Manager, Process Owner.

Organizational Structure

Strategic Committee

Voting

Who has the right to vote for decision-making?

All members of the strategic committee present at the meeting are entitled to vote.

Following the vote, what rule should be used to make a decision?

The decision-making will be the super-majority (2 / 3 of the votes). For a proposal to be accepted, the number of votes in favor of the proposal must be greater than or equal to twice the number of votes opposing the proposal.

Weekly Tactical Meetings

As a follow up to my posts about our Strategic Planning Meetings, our Monthly Strategic Meeting, and our strategic planning process, this blog post describes the Weekly Tactical Meetings.


Every week, the tactical meeting is used to plan the goals for the week and choose our priorities based on our current capabilities.

Objectives

  • Establish a quick plan for the week to come
  • Consider possible options for improvement and set priorities based on our ability to achieve them
  • Prioritize tasks and assign resources to support the activities.

The weekly tactical meeting is modeled after the daily stand up meeting used in Scrum with a key distinction. The group is much less interested in knowing what has been done but prefers to focus on what needs to be done within the next 5 business days to complete an objective. The meeting rarely lasts more than 30 minutes.

Strategic Planning Meetings

As a follow up to my earlier post about our strategic planning process, this blog post describes the Strategic Planning Meeting.


Every 6 months, the strategic planning team meets for our strategic planning meeting with the objective of assessing our progress towards achieving our vision and developing a strategic plan for the upcoming 6 months. As I already mentioned, strategic planning is an iterative process and as such, our strategic plan defines the objectives for the organization but does not carve them in stone.

The strategic plan is a realistic and pragmatic wish list of objectives and activities that we will strive to successfully complete – the plan is not a definitive set of end goals. For us, the plan is a road map to achieving the vision. It is more important to get closer to the vision than it is to stick to the plan or achieve the objectives as they were originally defined.

Objectives

Define and prioritize our strategic goals for the upcoming 6 months and assess our progress toward achieving the corporate vision.

Strategic planning

The strategic planning meeting sets the direction for the next 6 months. The goal is to make progress in achieving our vision and strategic goals in order to get us closer to the vision.

During the meeting, we establish the strategic action plan, which contains several targets for improvement in our service offerings, in our commercial software, and in our internal processes. After the meeting, the project office is responsible for the management of the strategic plan.

Each of the areas of expertise is responsible for monitoring their goals and in particular, they must ensure that their objectives are achieved or adapted to reflect the market conditions.

The objectives are documented in the backlog of the organization. Over time, the items documented in the backlog are broken down into activities and sub-tasks and are monitored through the monthly strategic meetings and the weekly tactical meetings.

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