Down here at Farmlinks, we’re talking a lot about 2012 plans. In our stories, blog posts and general conversations, we cajole our readers to plan. To think. To set up their entire year during one afternoon.
The L&L team did our 2012 planning this summer, and covered the walls in giant poster-sized paper just like Jim’s team in the photo above.
And while it’s easy to get your team into a room for a meeting, it can be very difficult to make it a productive and profitable exercise. So, here are a few suggestions on how to set up (and follow through on) a successful planning meeting.
First, don’t feel guilty about taking the time to plan. If the next 12 months are important, they’re worth thinking about, right? Second, be excited about this. You’ve got a chance to do some very cool things next year.
1. Go off site.
You’ll think more clearly about big picture stuff when you’re not in your office. Keep your phone and email off so you can focus.
2. Plan to plan.
Before the meeting, give your team some leading questions to think about and prepare for before the meeting. What do they want to accomplish next year? What would they change if they were in charge?
3. Have an agenda (and stick to it).
Keep the discussion focused on the topics at hand. Getting a bunch of creative thinkers in a room and plying them with caffeine can be great … or go terribly off the rails. You’ll end up in the weeds (sorry for the pun) if you’re not careful.
5. Take good notes.
Assign one person to be recorder. Everyone should send their notes to him afterward.
6. Write the plan down.
Use those notes to put together a plan for how you’ll achieve the goals you’ve set. What projects or initiatives are you going to pursue? Who’s in charge? What are the deadlines and objectives for each of them? Put these down in writing and give a copy to everyone on your team. Then, revisit each area at your regular staff meetings to make sure you and the team stay on track.
7. Do something fun.
Part of planning for a successful year means building your team. Go get a couple beers and go golfing or bowling or drive go-karts around. You spend a lot of time with these people, so get to know them.