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Too busy to think about strategy? Go offsite.

No doubt your business like most is pretty good at managing the day to day activities of business growth – driving sales, increasing margin, managing operations, expenses and cash. And if one of these functions stumbles there’s a raft of improvement ideas that are explored and new initiatives implemented.

With the speed of change of technology, markets, competitors, and end user expectations, businesses are constantly adjusting their performance levers. There is never enough time or resource to do everything on the ‘list’ regardless of the size of the organisation. The importance of having an inspiring vision and executable strategy is obvious. So why do we try to ‘cram-it’?

Does your board / management team make time for reflection, consideration, scenario planning, and envisioning the future? Do you allow quality time or is it something you squeeze in to your normal already full calendar of activities? Is it merely the one day planning session held annually?

Why do we allow so little time for reflection and creative thinking when we know this can be the greatest source of innovation and value creation?

And what about team dynamics? Your team’s creative bandwidth is also probably pretty full dealing with operational decision making. In the cauldron of cross departmental transactions stress can debilitate motivation and keep your team away from the high-performing goal.

What impediments are there in your business that might be hamstringing an otherwise high performing team?

The ROI of taking your team offsite

Imagine what could happen if you made the time to take your team away to spend time in the right environment, thinking about strategy, opportunities, and how to build on strengths? And if you make that a one or two night residential, so you can all engage as people, how might that impact the cohesion of the team and ultimately its performance? Sounds pretty obvious there’d be a positive outcome, right?

I recently facilitated a 2-day residential strategic planning session for the board and management team of a high growth private business with an aggressive international expansion strategy. The outcome has simply been transformational. The strategic vision was reviewed, the priorities were distilled from a long list of ‘must do’ actions to five key initiatives. Skills gaps were identified and alignment reached on key priorities. The head of the US division attended and communication among the team between peers and hierarchies was significantly enhanced. Most importantly, the team were stimulated and motivated.

The client’s team is still really busy as this is a business that is growing rapidly. And while there are still major opportunities and challenges to address, key objectives and principles have been agreed, and these will guide the management team’s decision making day to day.

So what might be the ROI be of such a meeting? At the very least it may succeed in the team achieving next year’s budget. But the maximum return can be achieved when the team is excited, focused, skilled, and applies ‘discretionary effort’; and through the insights developed reaches for what were previously thought unattainable goals.

Why don’t we do it?

With so much to be gained why do many high growth privately owned businesses not do it?

  • It’s expensive. But that line of thinking is ‘false economy’. If we consider the potential impact and ROI, the input costs begin to look much smaller.
  • Concerns about engagement and capability of the team. If we’re worried about that, it would suggest there are problems with the team. But certainly one way to test that is to see the team, operating in an offsite situation.
  • It’s a lot of work organising and preparing such an event. That’s why you should outsource it. All participants in the event should be engaged in the content sharing and learning, and in achieving the outcome – not in the dynamics of managing the meeting.
  • We just don’t have the time. So your team is focused on addressing the ‘urgent’. But with no time set aside for reflection, are you sure you’re taking care of the ‘important?’

Getting it right

Understandably, if you get it wrong it could be a costly and distracting exercise. But if you could make sure you got it right and it increased engagement and raised the performance of your management team, what amplifying impact would that have on the performance of your business?

Maybe it costs up to $25k to do it right, but what return on that investment could you achieve with a focused, inspired, engaged and high performing management team or board? And for the directors and shareholders, what does it say about your commitment to your team when you take the time out to invest in them?

Still too busy to think about that offsite?

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