What an annual planning session looks like

Strategic Planning & Business Coaching

The team at Incrementa (un)consulting recently had our annual planning session.

Early with our clients, we go through a lot of material, getting a first pass on many key elements to building the company’s vision, strategy and execution plan. These sessions are fast paced, often overwhelming, but develop alignment and clarity for the team.

The energy created is the perfect momentum to start executing.

For teams that have been through the process, we go for more depth. Fewer topics, deeper dives, increased clarity.

This is where some amazing breakthroughs often happen.

The current Incrementa team has been together for 18 months. We’ve done the basics and the team is well aligned, so it was time for some depth. Here’s what that looked like.

Step 1: Starting off right

We believe in starting every planning session by:

  • looking back at the period;
  • discussing the company (and each individual’s) wins and opportunities to learn (often from losses);
  • and things we’re grateful for.

This exercise is a fantastic reflection for people, having them focus on the previous period in a positive light.

shannon pearson discussing strategy

We then took the time to discuss the opportunities to learn and decide what actionable items there are from it. Interestingly we found a couple major weaknesses in this process—perfect for quarterly projects. These go into a parking lot for discussion during execution planning, which we’ll get to after strategic thinking.

Step 2: Strategic thinking

For the next several hours we dove into a small number of items, building further alignment around our vision, core purpose and other key areas of our strategy.

Clear goals were set.

Lots of head scratching and questions like “well that’d be great but how are we going to do it” were asked.

We had to be creative and think big, audacious and long-term. Definitely not the norm for a “management consultant firm”.

whiteboard quote: small team doing big things to help businesses grow

By mid-afternoon, it was clear that our brains had melted, so we switched to some fast-paced management review items. There’s nothing quite like checking things off a list to end a day on a high! Day one complete. Day two we talk and walk execution.

dave cavan at annual strategic planning meeting

Step 3: Execution planning

Day two of our session is reserved for execution planning.

After a quick check-in and reflection on the previous day, we dove right in, developing a month-by-month plan for world domination. We do this with swim lanes, with each lane being a key focus for the organization. All the ideas from the previous day were included off to the side so we could prioritize and put them into the plan (where appropriate).

annual planning post its

This tactile, visual approach to execution planning works so well because people can see exactly how the year will unfold, what they’re accountable for, and what the organization workload will be.

There were several times where we asked ourselves “have we taken on too much in this month” and had to shift things around.

Of course, all of this was later entered into our project management system for execution and holding each other accountable.

Now it’s time to make it happen.

Finishing our session, the team was tired and energized, ready to take on our goals.  Everyone had a clear plan and knew exactly what they needed to do to make it happen.

Ready to plan your decade of growth, then make it happen? If so, let’s setup a call and discuss your goals.

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