Strategy meeting preparation isn’t something that can be done in a day.
Sounds simple enough, right?
If you’ve ever been involved in meeting preparation or meeting planning, you know it’s easier said than done!
The extensive meeting checklist below details everything you need to know to ensure that you—and all of your attendees—are well-prepared for the meeting.
First things first: You can have a great strategy and real issues that need to be discussed, but if you don’t adequately prepare the right people—and ensure that they’re in the room, ready to participate during the discussion—you’ll lose out on a valuable opportunity for long-term strategic progress. In short, don’t underestimate the importance of your strategy meetings (and of strategy meeting preparation)! With that in mind, let’s continue.
If you’re wondering how to plan a meeting and where to get started, this step cannot be overlooked. Essentially, you need to consider your meeting planning and think through what day your meetings will be on, and then figure out every step that comes before that. We’ve outlined each step below using general guidelines we’ve found to be helpful—but you should customize your strategy meeting calendar based on your how your organization operates and how quickly each measure and project owner can enter or analyze their information.
In order to make this step effective, you have to know who’s responsible for each measure and project, and you have to make sure those individuals have clear expectations for preparing and submitting that data.
For example, some individuals may like to submit data in their own customized way, whether that’s through Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, or Word—or through email, voicemail, or word of mouth. Trying to coalesce information from these various sources is incredibly difficult for the individual tasked with organizing the data.
To solve for the issue of gathering data from various sources, it’s important to have measure and project owners enter their data in a template that cannot be modified—like Balanced Scorecard software or strategy management software. (If you’re not in a position to purchase software, you can organize this information in Excel.)
To ensure that everyone submits their data in a timely fashion, you must set the expectation early. You’ll learn quickly whether you need to provide 24, 48, or 72 hours (or longer) for measure and project owners to enter their data. We’ve found that it’s very helpful for either the person responsible for the strategy review meeting preparation or another executive to send out an email reminder for owners to enter their information
Now that all measure and project owners have updated their information in your software (or you’ve taken their data and added it to your Excel scorecard), you’ll want the owners to analyze their information. You may want to prompt them by asking them to answer some of the following questions:
Keep in mind, many goal owners are afraid to report a project or measure with a red status (showing that it is behind progress for one reason or another), but it’s important to make sure they’re comfortable doing so if they’d like to request more resources. The owner of the overall process should be able to work with each individual goal owner to help them solve any issues or challenges they’re facing and ensure that their analysis is both fair and accurate.
At this point, you need to determine what the overall strategic information is telling you. You may want to consider the following to create your agenda and read-ahead documentation and structure them appropriately:
Now that you’ve done the prep work, you should plan to pre-present the information to the executive in charge of the department. Once they understand what will be discussed, you should be able to go back to your measure and goal owners and let them know which areas will take up the majority of the discussion. This effort will be greatly appreciated!
Now that you know the key parts of the strategy that will be discussed, you may want to invite additional people who have expertise in these areas to the meeting. For instance, if you’re struggling with a manufacturing line, you may want to bring the factory manager to the meeting. Or if you’re dealing with financial complications, you may want to bring several people from the finance department.
Sending out all information in advance helps everyone prepare for the topics at hand. If there are any decisions that need to be made during the meeting, it’s important to outline those topics ahead of time—and decide what the parameters for each of the decisions are—so each attendee can think through them carefully and prepare adequately.
Phew! After your extensive meeting preparation, you’ve finally made it to the day of. In order to get the most out of your discussion, you’ll want to be sure the meeting room itself is prepared. The room should be the right size for the number of attendees and have a high-quality projector, whiteboard, or flip chart (depending on your needs). We also suggest making sure you have light refreshments or lunch brought in, depending on the time of the meeting. If your operation is diverse and has many facilities or meeting spaces, you may want to consider holding each monthly or quarterly meeting in a new spot.
Remember, everyone is operating on a busy schedule—and it’s important for attendees to want to come to your meetings. Note: This may take some prep work—particularly if you need to arrange the room in a particular way or order refreshments—so plan accordingly!
Creating a comprehensive internal reporting process—that includes everything from scorecard management to process changes—is both labor-intensive and time-consuming. But, it’s critical to have this document in order to keep your team on track and your meeting planning in check!
To help you with that goal, we’ve put our own strategic reporting and accountability policies. So if you need to make sure your internal reporting process is stable so your strategy preparation is more successful, reach out to us today!
Ted is a Founder and Managing Partner of ClearPoint Strategy and leads the sales and marketing teams.