Overcoming the Collective Sigh of Strategic Offsites
July 27, 2023
Overcoming the Collective Sigh of Strategic Offsites

The following is an excerpt from edition #4 of our new newsletter, The Pulse: Insights for Strategy Leaders. Enter your email below to have The Pulse delivered to your inbox every other week. Don't forget to subscribe on LinkedIn as well.

Overcoming the Collective Sigh of Strategic Offsites

The days are long, but the years are short. With July and summer already coming to an end, it’s that time of the year again where Strategy and Operations Leaders take the spotlight 🔦. For most companies that operate on a calendar fiscal year, we are entering the homestretch for 2023, where execution becomes paramount.

However, the focus can’t only lie in seeing through our 2023 goals. As Strategy and Operations Leaders, we also need to shift our attention to 2024 and start building the foundation for success through Strategic Planning Sessions.

At Elate, we’ve had the privilege of leading and providing playbooks for countless Strategic Planning offsites. (Here's a story that goes into detail on how we helped support this company's offsite). We’ve seen a lot of Strategic Plans, from higher education and nonprofits to Fortune 100 companies and organizations raising significant funding.

Yet, there’s one thing that always surprises me - the collective sigh from Leaders when it comes to Strategic Planning offsites.

And look, to an extent, I get it. Offsites are massive undertakings that require careful scheduling, travel arrangements, and the commitment of some of the busiest people in your organization. It means stepping back from the daily fires to pause, disconnect, and focus on the future while letting go of the present.

But if you don’t dedicate time to these sessions, when will you as an organization take the time to ensure you are still heading in the right direction? ✈️

Elate team members leading an offsite in July 2023. Source: LinkedIn

At Elate, we believe in aligning long-term vision with tactical execution. And that’s exactly what happens at Strategic Planning offsites. While there may be rhythm and cadence throughout the year to keep you aligned, these sessions are where you lay the foundation or build upon it. 💪

Sadly, we often hear, “Well, we set a strategy at the beginning of the year, but we never revisit it. It’s just an exercise to check the box.” Or even worse, “We set a strategy, but forget about it the first month of the year, because priorities change.”

Wait, what? You spent hours with your best minds mapping out the future of your organization, only to discard it so quickly? I don’t buy it.

I think the reason companies deviate from their plan (or ignore it all together) stems from a lack of buy-in, alignment, and commitment during the planning process itself.

Frankly, I’ve been a part of those sessions, and I’ve probably led some of them too. Sometimes we try to avoid conflict to the point where decisions are left undecided or we agree to everything, which ultimately means we're agreeing to nothing.

One of the things I like to say now is that we don’t all have to agree on everything, but we all need to understand the reasons and methods behind the decisions we make.

Those who view Strategic Planning as a static process that doesn’t account for market changes or situations that arise day-to-day are missing the dynamic nature of it. Strategic Planning should serve as our true north for how we set, define, and execute initiatives paramount to reaching the long-term goals set at the Leadership Level. ✨

As we enter Strategic Planning season, I encourage every Strategy and Operations Leader to really think about what type of outcome they are driving towards from their Strategic Planning offsite.

Is it simply to check a box and say we have a plan? Or is it to have a plan that can be measured and directly linked to success?

I'd encourage you to check out this page that goes into detail on Dynamic Planning. Towards the bottom there are resources that may also be helpful, including a Strategic Planning Playbook.  

If you ever need a sounding board to bounce ideas off or an outside resource to listen to your thoughts for your Strategic Planning sessions, I’d love to talk.

📢 Never Trust The Strategy, Always Trust The Person Leading It - New Podcast Episode

Our latest episode of Aspiring Ops* was joined by Josh Streets and he brought some 🔥 insights.

Josh is the Founder and CEO of Scoreboard Group Consulting and works with large, complex contact centers on strategic execution while leveraging the latest technologies. Given what we do here at Elate, this made for a great conversation.

The main theme of our conversation was centered around why organizations can move faster by slowing down. With so many teams working in silos today, and with all of the new technologies like AI, everyone eventually starts to go down their own path. Because of this, when it’s finally time to talk strategy, regaining alignment can be extremely challenging.

Click here for the episode notes and to listen to short audio bits. Highly recommend.

Season 5 Episode 7

Also - we have a YouTube playlist composed of the best audio clips from each episode. Check out Aspiring Ops Podcast Shorts - it’s a quick way to get some insightful content. 🎧

📆 Reporting on Your Strategic Plan - Upcoming Webinar on August 9th

In the previous edition of The Pulse I dove into the problems with today’s strategic reporting 😤:

  • It’s time consuming. Insanely time consuming. All of the spreadsheets, slides, and dashboards. Then compiling the subjective updates from team members.
  • The information is never reviewed prior to meetings, therefore meetings turn into a roll call of progress updates.
  • These combined result in a static and reactive approach to execution.

On August 9th I’ll be joined by my co-founder Abby Parker to share best practices on making reporting a part of your operating rhythm, and how you can shift the conversation from reporting yesterday’s news to creating tomorrow’s opportunities.

Click here to learn more and save your spot - this will also make sure your name is on the list to get the recording even if you can’t make it.

What’s ironic is that this was the pain we both felt first hand that led to us starting Elate.

This is a webinar you won’t want to miss.

Subscribe to get the rest of the content.

*Aspiring Ops was created to amplify the voices of world-class strategy and operations leaders as they share their personal stories and provide practical steps towards success. With over 50 episodes it has become a top podcast in our space. Available wherever you get your podcasts. Give it a listen and let me know what you think.