TOP TIPS : Strategic Planning Pointers

This issue of NZ Management touches on two important organisational activities: The staging of effective conferences and conventions, both internal and international, and the need to think and plan strategically.
It seemed like an ideal opportunity, therefore, to offer some tangential thoughts and tips on these two topics. Meetings of every shape, size and purpose are vital for effective management and organisational communication. They can, if haphazardly thrown together, also be dreadful time wasters and even personally destructive.
Great meetings, on the other hand, can be stimulating, productive, creative, solve problems and build motivation and morale. And in today’s world, meetings can diffuse conflict in way that emails and memos frequently fail to do.
Meetings are also effective because the written word carries only seven percent of the true meaning and feeling of the individuals taking part. And, according to research, they are better than telephone conferences because only 38 percent of the meaning and feeling is conveyed by the way things are said. The other 55 percent of an individual’s true meaning and feeling is conveyed in facial expressions and non-verbal signs.
If you are planning meeting, check out the advice offered on the Businessballs website on how to run successful one. See www.businessballs.com/meetings.htm.
But now to specific kind of meeting – the strategic planning session. As you will see from this month’s story (page 56) on the role of strategic planning, it is critical organisational tool. So here are some tips for conducting an effective strategic planning conference or meeting.
The suggested approach outlined in this column assumes that the market research and staff, customer and supplier consultation has taken place before the formal session begins.

1. Start with the vision – what do you want the business to be in two years? Consider infrastructure, staff, structure, communications and information technology, customers, markets, services, products, partners, routes to market, quality and mission values, financials.

2. If delegate numbers permit, allocate syndicates number of aspects each. Change groups as appropriate, move between whole group brainstorms to small group syndicate sessions.

3. If appropriate, use coloured modelling clay and/or construction kits to provide an interesting way for delegates to express shapes, structure etc for each vision aspect. Shape and touch as essential to the creative process.

4. Work on the necessary enablers, obstacles, cause-and-effect steps along the way for each aspect aim. This will produce basic timetable and strategic plan.

5. To add an extra dimension to the meeting and planning process – and to reinforce relationships with your most important customers, suppliers, partners – invite some of them along to the meeting to contribute, validate ideas and collaborate. It’s particularly useful way to make the session more dynamic and meaningful, as well as keeping the focus on the real world. M

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