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A strategy is a roadmap that guides your business towards a vision. It defines every person’s role, their behavior, and the purpose of a company’s activities. Strategy meetings also ensure that there is a clear goal, process, and criteria in place for success.
 
As with any meeting, there are several challenges of which to be cognizant. In this article, we’ll cover a few ways your team can conduct successful strategy meetings.

 

What is a Strategy Meeting?

What is the purpose of a strategy meeting, anyway? The answer may depend on the nature of the work. But there are three common threads in every strategy meeting:

  • Goal – The purpose or reason for developing a strategy. This could be reaching more customers or exploring new markets.
  • Vision – The destination or desired state. For example, if the goal is to explore new markets, the vision may be to launch a completely new product line.
  • Tactics – The specific steps or tasks needed to achieve the vision.

 

Strategy meetings also help everyone stay focused on longer projects and initiatives. In some cases, one or two strategy meetings are all you need to set expectations and develop a plan of action. Other times, you may need several strategy meetings over a few years.

Now you may wonder, what goes into a successful strategy meeting or discussion? Here are a few tips.

 

Create an agenda

Meetings can quickly veer off-topic. Set an agenda before the discussion to ensure everyone stays focused. Ever heard of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS)? This is a model that empowers entrepreneurs to grow their business. Note that “rocks” in EOS refer to the most important quarterly goals. The proposed quarterly meeting agenda used in their system offers seven components:

  1. Segue – Each meeting starts with a recap of the best news from the last 90 days. This should include what’s working, what’s not working, and expectations for the meeting. This helps prepare each person for the real discussion.
  2. Previous quarter review – Review the previous quarter’s financials and rocks. If less than 80% of the rocks were completed, your team must discuss the reasons. Otherwise, rocks carry on to the next quarter.
  3. Review the Vision/Traction Organizer (V/TO) – EOS condenses complex strategic visions into two pages. You can find a template for it here. A quick review assures that everyone has the same vision and priorities in mind.
  4. Establish the next quarter’s rocks – What should be the priorities for the company in the next 90 days? Brainstorm a major list, and then cut it down to around three or seven rocks.
  5. Tackle key issues – For any unresolved issues, use the IDS system: identify, discuss, and solve. It’s a simple way to frame issue resolution. If there are still outstanding issues, add it to the next strategy meeting.
  6. Next steps – By the end of a meeting, everyone should know the follow-up tasks that they are responsible for. Use this part of the meeting to communicate important messages and tasks to the team.
  7. Conclude – End the meeting by asking each participant on their feedback for the meeting. That includes whether it met their expectations, as well as a 1-10 rating on the efficacy of the meeting.

This template has worked for many businesses that use the EOS model. But you may also want to experiment and work on your own variation. For example, determine the time that will be delegated to each point of discussion. This will keep the conversation from running too long. Breaks are also encouraged. Otherwise, people are bound to get distracted and drift off.

 

Define the purpose of the meeting

A meeting without a purpose is like running a race with no clear finish line. Each meeting should have clear and concise goals. This serves as a signal to the team that their time is valuable and being put to good use. It also narrows the scope of the discussion to a few topics. Anything that is not relevant can be set for another day.
 
As suggested by the EOS agenda, review priorities that were set in the previous quarter. This will help the company determine the company’s current priorities. Then, compare it with the current state of the company. Were any of the initiatives completed? Were issues solved? If they were, then it may be time to set new goals. If not, it may be wise to return to those issues.
 
Another great way to determine the purpose is to conduct a review of the current state of the company. What are the company’s strengths and weaknesses? Are there any opportunities or threats formed by the current landscape? Answers to these questions will identify the team’s most important priorities.

 

During the strategy meeting

Up to this point, we have discussed how to prepare for the meeting. But there are also initiatives to take in meetings that will guarantee productive outcomes.
 
First, take notes, or assign someone to do so. With so many topics to discuss, it’s impossible to recall all the important points from memory. Meeting notes will structure the winding narratives that often emerge from long discussions. A shared document of notes allows everyone to understand the main points in each meeting. Meister offers some fantastic tips for effective note-takingFollow the agenda. Everyone has been in that frustrating meeting that runs in circles. Usually, this inefficiency is due to a lack of focus. Agendas keep conversations laser-focused. Learn how to reduce distractions in a coworking or similar environment. Be sure to read our previous post.

 

Finally, you need a system to address issues. In the EOS model, issues are not only “problems”. They can also include ideas, obstacles, or opportunities. Anything worthy of discussion can be considered an issue. Use the Issues Solving Track™. This provides a handy framework for identifying, discussing and solving issues. To learn more, check out EOS’s process guide.

 

Follow up

Finally, your actions post-meeting can make an impact on its’ result. It’s easy to forget about a meeting as soon as you walk out. Send follow-ups to your clients immediately. It will make all the difference.

Also, delegate tasks and responsibilities to each person. This might be calling a client or tracking progress on a project. Don’t forget to create sets of criteria for satisfaction. These are a set of rules or conditions that need to be met for the assignment to be marked complete. It’s also a good idea to assign a due date or deadline to hold them accountable.

When appropriate, ask for feedback from your team from the meeting. Their input can go a long way in improving the strategy meeting process. This can lead to a more pleasing experience and more engaged employees.

An hour-long conversation about financials and business tactics may not be exciting. But strategic meetings are vital to the success and longevity of a team. So make the most of it. It falls upon the leaders and managers to create the right atmosphere. One that breeds creativity, invites opposing views and inspires hard work.