People who think of “plan” as a noun tend to write a nice neat document, tuck it into a three-ring binder, and let it gather dust on a bookshelf while they make their day-to-day decisions and react to events with little or no thought to a long-term direction.
Think of “plan” as a verb instead—something you do all the time, tending to it at regular intervals—a process that never ends—an ongoing part of your proactive approach to the marketplace and to running your business.
One of the first steps to turn your ideas into action is by making the most of your firm's strategic planning meeting. Following these eight tips can help guarantee its success:
1. Bring the right people. The strategic planning retreat should be run with a small group of firm leaders who actively participate in the meeting—including a cross-section of people from the firm, especially someone representing the young professionals. PSMJ recommends that the planning team be between seven and 15 people.
2. Go off-site. Seldom can a planning retreat be held effectively in your offices. Too many interruptions, potential distractions, and tardy participants make it impossible.
3. Hire a court stenographer. None of the participants should be expected to record all the information discussed during the meeting. Hiring a court stenographer that can capture the critical information will make writing your strategic plan more effective.
4. Use an outside facilitator. Use of an outside facilitator brings an unemotional professional that can keep your team on track, and remove any individual biases that could influence your plan. Be certain that your facilitator knows the design industry, and that you provide an abundance of advanced data about your firm, its markets, its clients, and all previous strategic planning efforts.
5. Don’t let the facilitator write your plan. Your team should write its own plan for greater commitment to the outcome.
6. Title the plan “DRAFT.” Good strategic plans are fluid not rigid. By labeling your plan “DRAFT,” you encourage everyone to participate and to comment on the tactics and activities required to achieve your goals.
7. Built in accountability. The plan is not a strategic plan without specific actions, tactics, deadlines, and assignments given to individuals by name to assure accountability.
8. Establish regular reviews. Before leaving your planning retreat, coordinate calendars with all participants for a minimum of four reviews per year. Review meetings should be brief, off-site, with nothing else on the agenda but to review your goals and progress on those goals.
In today’s fast-moving business climate, you need alignment and clarity to get your leadership team moving towards success. You need a plan that has “teeth” and won’t just collect dust on a bookshelf. Whether you are brand new to planning or are ready to turbo-charge your efforts, PSMJ’s approach to strategic and business planning is to provide tools and tips that firms can implement immediately.
Strategic planning, done right, can drive your firm to new levels of profitability and productivity. Done wrong, it can become an expensive exercise in frustration. You’ll see both sides, and learn how to make sure your next plan execution is a resounding success, with PSMJ’s new A/E/C Strategic Planning Executive Survey Report. This plain-English briefing not only provides hard data but also candid comments drawn from a February 2019 survey of 157 principals and executives at leading architecture and engineering firms.
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