Here are some generally accepted best practices for conducting an effective annual strategic planning meeting:
- Limit attendees to key decision makers — the CEO, CFO and key executives. (no more than 10 attendees. )
- Recognize that the meeting(s) involve in-depth discussions - and schedule enough time.
- Hold the planning meeting(s) off-site. This eliminates disruption and encourages focus.
- Engage an outside facilitator to run and document the meeting.
- Avoid combining annual strategic planning with budget discussions. (Short-term financial issues can take over the discussion, and restrict the creative idea-generation process.)
- Hold your financial/budget discussions at another time of the year or once you have settled on the major strategic elements of your annual strategic plan.
BOTTOMLINE: In order for the annual planning process to have real value, the documented results need continual followup, which includes tying results to your plan. Continual measuring and monitoring is the key.