Quarterly Off Site Review
We have all been to those off site 'strategic' meetings where you spend more time hiking through hills, playing golf, river rafting, falling off tables in the obligatory 'trust' exercises and, I'm sure, many more "Team Building" exercises I haven't even thought about. What a waste of precious time, don't get me wrong I'm not saying that team building isn't important, it is! In fact it's critical, but these types of exercises really don't add much to building your executive team or getting your business focused.
As Patrick Lencioni highlights, the Strategic Quarterly off site review meeting is too important to allow it to get tarred with the time wasting brush that so many of these session tend to, done correctly it really does set your company up for success. Think about how often you really get the chance to step away from the day to day & week to week issues, even lower level strategic issues that bog you down in the company and let you get to that 30,000 feet view of the business? That's the point of the Quarterly Off Site Review, it lets you look longer term and take a bigger picture view of the organisation as a whole.
What Should be Covered on the Off Site Reviews
There are a range of things you can cover and some of it is open to discussion and what works for you but here are the things you need to cover as a minimum
- A review of the strategic direction - take the time to review the current direction and make sure that it's still valid and that the steps you are taking are still in the right direction. Are your strategic anchors still correct, are you ahead or behind in executing the strategy and if so why. This needs to be done quarterly rather than Annually as so many companies do because the market and technology within those markets are changing ever quicker.
- Review the Team! Review the exec team and ensure you are all still aligned to the goals & accepted behaviours of Team Number 1 - The Executive Team. Be prepared to call each other out on what has and hasn't gone well and how each person has impacted that or how they have contributed to a result.
- Review your who is on the bus. Take time to review the key personnel in the organisations, who are the stars, potential future leaders, the poor performers within each department, you will be surprised how a view of an individual can vary across and organisation. Are there any of your team at risk of leaving or moving to the competition, if so is that a risk you can accept or should you do something about it? This feedback needs to be gathered and a plan for the next steps for these personnel agreed which may include support from other department managers.
- Review the current status of your industry, what's happening now, what are trends telling you, is there a gap you should be exploiting, where do you sit vs your competitors in the marketplace - are they eating into your margins or are you chasing them, if so how are you doing here. This is a good opportunity to step back and review the trends that are coming at you.
How not to kill the meeting flow
I know when was 'asked' to attend company off site sessions in previous organisations I had to spend hours writing papers and presentations and then we had to spend hours listening to each others presentations, it was tedious at best.
- I'm not saying you don't have to have information available or that you shouldn't do prep work, you absolutely should, but it's not death by powerpoint your going for here, it's interactive passionate discussion not a stage managed performance. Set a top level agenda of what you need to cover & who will 'lead' the discussion, remember the CEO has final decision on a discussion no matter who leads the discussion. Have only enough of information on as few (1 is great!) slides.
- Ensure that you have enough time scoped out to cover what you need to cover, if you try to curtail or rush then discussions become stilted and things get missed.
- Don't invite anyone not already on the team to the meeting, this is not an session to help someone grow, it's a hard working, nuts & bolts of strategy event and it doesn't matter who it is they will alter the team dynamic and impact team unity which is after all a key output from the review. Now that said you should seriously consider using a facilitator for these session, someone outside the company typically who has no vested interest in the outcomes. It allows the CEO or leader to really commit to being in the session and participating without having to worry about the administration and facilitation elements that are linked to these sessions.
So where should you hold your meetings? Of course it should be in a golf course or an island paradise or perhaps Disneyworld... the answer to all of these things is no you shouldn't it should be held somewhere maybe an hour from where you are in a hotel or conference facility that is good enough to meet your needs and topped off by probably meal at a nice restaurant in town and that's it. Don't waste hours travelling to get somewhere only to turn up tired from the trip there.
The last part of the off site review is to agree what has been agreed to ensure that you are all on the same wavelength and also agree what is going to be communicated back, how and by where. This ensures everyone is clear with the reviews outcomes and that communication happens in a timely manner, it also helps to re-enforce to your teams that this wasn't just a 2 day jolly somewhere.
Your Quarterly Off Site Review needs to be set in the calendar, don't do it once then say well we may just do it in 6 months time as are pretty busy, are you ever really to busy to maintain your company? to ensure you are 100% on track? for the sake of 2 days a quarter you could have a clear, fully aligned executive team and a company actively working on the strategy.
Get In Touch
If you need any support in implementing a quarterly off site or facilitating your meetings then click here to make an appointment and find out how we can help you Make Things, Better
You can also call John on 0211649739 to set up a meeting
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