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Pick your priorities for 2017 – plan ahead!

The planning time of year is upon . . .or maybe passing us by. I’m always struck by how busy the business world is at this time of year. With the added personal commitments around the holidays, and the amount of people needed to pull together to plan, finding this time is a challenge. On top of that, the necessary time to do a plan justice can be overwhelming. It’s striking how much time should be put aside for planning purposes. It cannot just be completed in ½ day or even a day. Ideally, there needs to be time to think about the organization’s big picture with the leadership team, with added time to incorporate all leaders and employees of the company into the mix. Lastly, time is needed to best understand how to budget based on your vision and strategies for the upcoming year.

Whether you’re starting your planning in the new year or not, here are some tips:

  1. Realize that there’s nothing special about having a plan finalized in December. Working on the plan in January can be the best timing without holiday and other distractions. So get started, no matter what time of year. The team at the Oliver Group began with a 2 ½ day retreat with 1 ½ days of follow-up a few weeks later to further work through details.


  1. Determine who needs to be involved in the planning. Typically, it is most effective for the senior leadership team to create the vision and broad strategies for the year. Then a broader audience can pull together, putting more “meat on the bones.”


  1. A minimum of one day with the senior team and one day with the broader team can suffice. Choose a facilitator if leaders want to participate and need help getting the group to broaden their thinking, expand on their ideas or ask difficult questions.


  1. Add some fun and enjoy your time together. Fostering your relationships and making this time together enjoyable can free up creative thinking. The Oliver Group’s retreat was unique and fun as we stayed off-site at a lake house and prepared meals together, took a boat ride and built a camp fire. Any activity where you get outside is ideal for tapping into creativity and refreshing minds.


No matter when you start your strategic alignment with your team, you will personally be ok and your company will be ok as long as you have a common direction at some point. A similar understanding and “buy in” of your direction and the key initiatives to reaching your goals will enable a stronger start to the new year. Happy planning!

Post by Jennifer Mackin.

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