The first part of this series went over the two key types of meetings that an organization uses to create and implement key strategies for growth and meeting goals. Strategic meetings create the “big picture” that will guide your business activities. The team should look for ideas and strategies that will both help define the company’s place in the market and clarify goals that will increase success.
If you’re ready to implement strategic meetings in your business, or you’ve been trying to do so without much luck, these four keys will help you have more productive sessions:
Send homework ahead of time
Strategic sessions are more successful when everyone has an idea of the areas and concepts that they should be considering. Sending out “homework” will help ground the discussion in a common knowledge.
Homework can consist of a case study, article, report, or any other type of content that will stimulate thinking. The point is for team members to read and absorb the information before they arrive so the team can discuss the concepts.
To be effective, the homework should be specific and require intellectual involvement. For example, open ended requests like “Please consider the future of this company” are way too vague. A much better approach is to use a focused question like “What kind of market response should we come up with in response to our competitor’s new ad campaign?” This requires much more intense thinking and a focused discussion in the meeting.
Don’t be afraid to subtly let participants know that they will be put on the spot during the meeting about the homework. You can use the fear of potential embarrassment in a gentle way to motivate team members to review the content before the meeting starts .
Get team members prepared with an agenda
Although a strategic meeting is designed to encourage brainstorming and new ideas, there should still be an agenda to guide and shape the discussion. Create an agenda and distribute it ahead of time. Keep the agenda short to make sure that people will read it, and then review the agenda at the beginning of the meeting. This will give team members the opportunity to add new items or provide feedback on items based on their experience.
Moderate the session
Your strategic meetings should have a dedicated moderator. The moderator can identify key issues before the meeting and guide the group. The moderator’s job is to help spark ideas by throwing out questions and allowing people to speak in turn. A good moderator will have a sense of where the discussion will go and will collectively drive toward that direction with smart questions. The questions should be used to stimulate thinking and brainstorming in the team members. Keep in mind that the moderator is there to direct the conversation and not to dictate answers.
Create scenarios to consider
A strategic session should be open and free-flowing with ideas (gently guided by the moderator) and should not focus on any given plan. A plan is only one outcome and component of the strategy, and there are several other plans and scenarios that are possible. During a strategic meeting, the team should create scenarios or contingency plans that can cover all possible outcomes.
With these four keys, you can have more productive and directed strategic meetings that are thought provoking and beneficial for your organization.