How To Speed Up the Strategic Planning Process

In an age of constant change, strategic planning is becoming a shared responsibility across teams, rather than the sole purpose of a single department. Furthermore, with market conditions shifting weekly, if not daily, it's no longer sufficient to update strategies on a yearly or even a quarterly basis. This exercise will help your team get accustomed to adaptive planning and be prepared to act, rather than scrambling to react.

Running a Strategic Forecasting Meeting

  1. Call a meeting. Gather your team together for 60-90 minutes.
  2. Collect observations. Ask your team to write down their observations: what factors and forces are increasing or decreasing in their industry? Team members should write down one observation per Post-It for four minutes in silence. Pro Tip: prime the group to think of observations as “X is increasing or decreasing.”
  3. Share out. Allow the team to share their observations and group similar ideas together, one Post-It at a time.
  4. Make predictions. For the second round of silent brainstorming, prompt the team to predict what the observation will mean for your organization using the following format: "If 'X' continues to increase or decrease, then it will mean 'Y' for our company."
  5. Share again. Repeat the process for sharing and grouping predictions together. We’d recommend identifying three to five themes to start.
  6. Create imperatives. For a final round of silent brainstorming, ask team members to draft imperatives following the structure of: “We must do Z because of Y.”
  7. Share once more. Conduct a final round of sharing and create themes based on responses.
  8. Draft action items. Spend the remaining time together drafting actions for each imperative. Prompt the team to consider what needs to be done this week, this month, and this quarter to complete the imperative.
  9. Codify the output. The team lead should capture the observations, predictions, imperatives, and action items in Trello, assigning owners and due dates to each action item.

Takeaway: Adaptive planning requires a rhythm, not perfect predictions. Setting aside time to observe and predict impending changes in the market will help you align as a team. Your team’s response time to consumer and market conditions will improve, and your purpose within a larger organization will crystalize.

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