Resorts Aren’t Necessary for Strategic Planning

I’m sure you’ve read of the AIG scandal by now. (Here is the Fox News story and here is the CNN story.)  Shame is too small a word for those executives. I would love to know where their entitlement comes from. I’d squish it like a bug.

Maybe they went to the resort to do strategic planning. An off-site is good, as well as leaving behind laptops, pagers, pdas, everything that can interrupt you. Keep the tools, leave the interruptions. If your business has changed or needs to change, as I would hope it does after being rescued from bankruptcy, you do need to do strategic planning.

Here are the strategic planning steps:

  1. Define your mission. (Why are you in business? Who do you serve? What benefits do you provide?)
  2. Analyze the current situation
  3. Define the plans for the new situation

There are lots of ways to do the analysis and planning. SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) is a common way because it’s easy to see and easy to do wrong. Armstrong has a different approach: Seeking commitment as you specify objectives; generate strategies; evaluate strategies; monitor results. Armstrong’s approach appeals to me because it’s an iterative process, not something you do once while at a nice resort. There are other approaches also.

One of the best ways to do strategic planning is to do it constantly. No, not to take off-sites constantly, but to devote a little of your time each week to reviewing the mission, analyzing the situation, and see if you need to redefine your current plans. Of course, for that to work, you need data about sales (or the equivalent if you work in IT or a non-profit), where your projects are, and if you are truly serving your chosen customers. Then, once a month, maybe at the project portfolio evaluation meeting, you can review the strategy.

You might still need to do an offsite once a year. But not a really ritzy resort, where the booze, the golf, and spa treatments take you away from the business at hand. (Manicures and pedicures are not necessary for strategic planning.) Strategic planning is work. Hard work. Don’t treat it like it’s a day at the beach.

Full disclosure: Yes, I facilitate strategic planning meetings. They don’t look like the AIG meeting.

P.S. I forgot to point to the Armstrong paper: The Value of Formal Planning for Strategic Decisions: Review of Empirical Research

About Johanna Rothman

I help managers and leaders do reasonable things that work.
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4 Responses to Resorts Aren’t Necessary for Strategic Planning

  1. Jijnes Patel says:

    I agree. I highly doubt any commitments came out of this vacation, I mean offsite. My current employee makes an effort to keep costs reasonable; can we pick a location where the least amount of folks can travel, is this a meeting where we can leverage video conferencing instead. Sure we have a nice dinner, but nothing like a 440k offsite.

  2. Bob Corrick says:

    Armstrong? I assume J Scott Armstrong, and am reading his paper (top Google hit)…

  3. joapen says:

    This people from AIG should take care with Corporate social responsibility and Business ethics.

    This news has arrived here in Spain and it has been seen as a sign of poor ethic.

  4. Pingback: Quickthink » Blog Archive » Manicures and Strategic Planning

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