Strategic planning and doing is a craft that must be practiced consistently in order to achieve real results. That's why at Camoin Associates we host our own internal strategic planning sessions about every 6 months. The company has set some lofty goals for itself; but, by taking a collaborative strategic planning and doing approach, our entire team has stepped up to the challenge. So what does a strategic planning session for Camoin Associates look like? Here's how we typically organize our strategic planning sessions:
Step 1 | Get out of the office
We like to hold our strategic planning sessions off-site, somewhere we can escape the day-to-day office distractions. It is important for everyone to be focused on the discussion and avoid being pulled in different directions.
Step 2 | Review the current strategy
We begin the day by taking a close look at the existing strategic plan. We walk through the different projects and initiatives we've been working on and discuss the status of each. At this point it's hard not to jump right into a deep discussion on whether to abandon, keep, or re-invent specific initiatives, but this discussion is meant to be a quick update and we try not to get too bogged down in the weeds (that'll come later).
Step 3 | Check the metrics
The next thing we do is review the company's performance metrics. Just like an economic development organization might track metrics for their projects and programs, we track company metrics on marketing, proposal success, client satisfaction, staff productivity, etc. Overall we track around 20-30 metrics each month. During our strategic planning workshops, individuals responsible for tracking different metrics brief the team on their performance over the last year. In addition to giving us all a chance to geek out over the data, this discussion grounds us in a shared understanding of how the company is performing and where there may be opportunities for improvement.
Step 4 | Identify emerging opportunities and challenges
Once we have a shared understanding of how the company is performing, we have a discussion about what trends or shifts we're seeing in the market. We ask ourselves things like "Are we targeting the right geographies?" "What policy shifts might affect our service lines?" or "What new challenges are our clients facing?" We spend about an hour as a team making a list of opportunities and challenges - giving everyone a chance to offer up their observations.
Step 5 | Design strategies
By about mid-afternoon we're ready to split up into small groups and start working on the strategy. Last week we had each team develop a list of up to five potential initiatives that they believe would offer the greatest growth opportunities. Each team presented their proposed initiatives to the full group, where we discussed each idea and prioritized those that we want to focus on over the next 6 months.
Step 6 | Update the action plan
After the company-wide strategic planning workshop, the management team typically meets either that evening or the following day to review and refine our action plan matrix. We discuss the ideas and initiatives proposed by our colleagues, and figure out how to incorporate any new initiatives into the strategy. This is where we take a hard look at capacity and debate what we can realistically take on considering everyone's workload.
Step 7 | Implement
Once the matrix has been updated, we share it with everyone on the team so we're all on the same page regarding assignments and focus areas. Nearly everyone in the company has a role to play in supporting the strategic plan to achieve our goals.
This may seem like we're squeezing an entire strategic planning process into a day and a half - and to be honest sometimes it feels that way - but, what's actually happening is "strategic doing." As a company we are constantly piloting ideas and measuring the results to better understand what works for us and what doesn't. Every 6 months we adapt our strategies based on that new knowledge, continuing to work toward our collective goals.
So, are we on track to hit our goals? So far we're hitting nearly every metric, but the next 6 months will be critical…stay tuned!