Here the very first idea that we all get when we hear about Strategic Meetings is that it is about devising Strategies to help the company stay successful in the future. The actual goal of these meetings should be to prepare management to take capable sound decisions that will help the firm to achieve its long-term as well as short-term goals. In many firms, it is done as a customary process, just doing it for the namesake which is not at all helpful as it won't serve the purpose and will waste the time of involved parties. Strategic ideas rarely come out in formal meetings, it is a spark that can pop up in the coffee break or hallway small talks. That is the reason why we say that formal Strategic meetings should be considered as a process to mold ‘prepared minds'.
Strategic Meetings can be effective when the discussion is between few people. The CEO and the business unit head are the essential participants of these meetings. The CEO should make sure that the meetings are held between 10-12 people at maximum. The meetings should be done in a manner that it is more of a conversation between colleagues discussing the changes required in their firm, about the innovative methods adopted by the competitors and how they should tackle them etc. The management should make sure that in these meetings the ‘fear factor' shouldn't be there between the representatives of middle management towards the top, in that case, the information hiding can take place to please the top management and it can lead to detrimental decisions. To achieve this two-street type conversation it will be better if the meetings are conducted at the respective business unit sites. This can create a homely feeling among the people from that unit who are attending the meeting and thus they will be able to share their ideas more freely.
To make these Strategic meetings effective, make sure to fix the agenda and circulate the slides among the participants so that no time is wasted on studying the contents. One common mistake made by the firms which make the strategic meetings ineffective is bringing the topic of financial budgeting into the agenda of the meeting. In this case, the major focus of the meeting shifts from the strategic planning to numbers and short-term issues and the long-term issues are sidelined, but at the same time, there is an important linkage between budgeting and strategies. When the firm plans for a major shift in their strategies they should do enough financial planning in budgeting to support these strategic shifts. The CEO and top management should make sure to do a disciplined and systematic follow-up for the annual meetings. The records of the previous meetings can be used for the review purpose in the next meetings to see how much they have achieved.
The firms should make it a point that the strategic meetings shouldn't be an annual ritual instead if carefully planned and well executed then it can be fruitful for the firm in long run. Formal strategic planning can be a new learning process for the management to make sound tactical decisions in the time of chaos and help the organization to flourish.
References1. The Real Value of Strategic Planning; Sarah Kaplan & Eric D. Beinhocker