Why are most strategic retreats ineffective? This is a question we’re commonly asked at Newleaf Training and Development. We’re not the perfect training company and wouldn’t consider ourselves any kind of gurus of all knowledge. What we have observed is that most strategic retreats focus too much on the mission and not enough on the people. We see two problems here that hopefully we’ve addressed well in our ‘Charting the Course’ program which serves as an effective architecture for strategic retreats and/or to help intact work teams navigate through a period of unsettling change.
The first problem is the mission statement of any team or overall organization is nothing more than the “WHY” — why the organization exists. What is the organization’s core purpose? This the raisen d’être as the French say — its purpose of being. This is important but the WHY has to be wrestled to the ground and expressed in a way we can relate to and lean-in towards on a daily, weekly and monthly basis as employees and leaders of people.
This is where the VISION comes in. Whereas the mission is the “WHY”, a good vision statement is the “WHERE” (do we want to get to and by when). Did you catch that? Where do we want to get to and by when?When we facilitate our full-day seminar, ‘Charting the Course’ we encourage the team to come up with clear vision statement that can be expressed in a crisp, clear and compelling manner as an X to Y by when. Our observation has been that many organizations have a vision statement that’s really just a regurgitation of a mission statement. We have also observed that very few organizations state a vision statement in “X to Y by when” terms. Is it no surprise then that most organizations don’t achieve their highest potential and fall short of executing with excellence?
The second problem is that few strategic retreats focus on the people component. In ‘Charting the Course’ we have the leadership team address what behaviors they need to see STARTED (to help achieve the vision statement), STOPPED and CONTINUED. We also then allocate time to address what we call, ‘Leader Actions’ meaning what do the leaders in the room need to do to being out the best of their people and themselves to achieve the “Y by when”.
In summary, I would suggest to you from our experience at Newleaf Training and Development the reason most strategic retreats are ineffective is because the leaders don’t conclude with a clear vision that’s measurable and/or they don’t focus any meaningful energy towards the people part of the equation.