Think About Impact and Outcomes Before You Plan Your Strategic Planning Retreat

Two prospective strategic planning clients reached out to me this past week. Both organizations have a new CEO, at least two new board members each, at least two new senior staff members each, and both were requesting information on how I might facilitate their plan development during a two-day board retreat. It became quickly apparent, both CEOs were simply approaching their outreach to me as somewhat of a checklist item from their board: Find a consultant for our strategic planning retreat. However, as our conversations progressed, both CEOs also clearly realized this checklist item was more than a quick To Do List item. This checklist item and having the discussions that would need to be held with their boards would impact their organizations profoundly for the next several years. These CEOs and their boards needed to think more carefully about the impact of their strategic planning process and the outcomes they wanted.

Choosing the right strategic planning consultant and having the discussions that would need to be held with their boards would impact their organizations profoundly for the next several years.


Here are a few of the items I suggested they consider before finalizing their decisions and plans for their two-day strategic planning retreat:

  • Plan to spend some time clarifying the board’s role, your role as the new CEO, your management team’s role, and what you need your strategic plan to do for all of you. This is always a smart move, and especially now given your new board members and new executive staff members. A level-setting of everyone’s expectations is wise.
  • Clarify what would best serve your organization’s governance structure (i.e., board versus staff roles, board versus committee roles, speed of plan development, etc.), going forward. Would it work better by:
    • Having the full board work with you, the CEO, in creating the plan?
    • Having a few board members work with you and your senior staff in drafting a plan (i.e., create a Strategic Planning Committee)?
    • Having the board provide input and feedback to the plan as it’s drafted by you and your senior staff?
  • Clarify which development format will generate a plan that will make sense to you and your management team to implement and have your performance measured against?
    • A weekend retreat (i.e., 2 full days)
    • A few day-long sessions spread out over a few weeks
    • Several shorter sessions (i.e., 2-4 hours each) spread out over several weeks
  • Identify where you intend to gather current, relevant industry or organizational data:
    • Do you expect the strategic planning consultant to bring it?
    • Do you hold yourself, your management team, and board accountable to know where to go to get current, relevant industry data?
    • Will you survey the staff, board, customers, and other stakeholders to gather data from interested parties to help determine strategic priorities, instead of relying on board members’ and management’s gut instincts or opinions?
  • Consider how you plan to ‘manage to the plan’.
    • Will you provide monthly or quarterly updates to the board?
    • Is your management team and board accustomed to holding themselves accountable to a plan and reporting on it quarterly if not monthly?
  • Consider what type of plan document makes sense for you?
    • How will you easily track and update your plan in real time?
  • Clarify what type of post-development support you may appreciate from the consultant(s) to support you, the board, and your team as you roll the plan out and create department-specific plans that align to the company plan.
  • Finally, ensure your consultant can support you, if desired, in helping your organization to align your performance management program to the plan – i.e., ensure every employee’s performance development goals are aligned to their department’s goals, which are aligned to the company’s goals…seamless, transparent, objective, and always looking forward.

Now that’s impactful.

What outcomes and what long-term impact do you expect and need from your strategic planning initiative?

It should be more than generating a document.



Copyright MMXXI – Liz Weber, CMC, CSP – Weber Business Services, LLC – +1.717.597.8890

Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching. Learn more about Liz on LinkedIn!



Liz Weber CMC CSP

Liz Weber CMC

Liz Weber coaches, consults, and trains leadership teams. She specializes in strategic and succession planning, and leadership development.

Liz is one of fewer than 100 people in the U.S. to hold both the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designations.

Contact Liz’s office at +1.717.597.8890 for more info on how Liz can help you, or click here to have Liz’s office contact you.



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