Consulting Services – Planning

Keep Important and Urgent Work in Balance

In the absence of planning, urgent work pushes out important work every time. Leadership teams need to periodically step away from their day-to-day operational responsibilities and develop longer term plans in order to stay focused on high priority, high value work. Otherwise, pressing work takes over and the leadership team becomes almost completely reactive to events.

Guide to Successful Planning Meetings

Successful planning meetings produce tangible results that affect day-to-day decisions. They establish / confirm priorities, focus everyone’s direction and energize the participants. Here are some suggestions for producing useful planning meetings:

  1. LIFT THE TIME HORIZON. Focus the discussion on a much longer time horizon than what is considered in operational meetings. Weekly meetings typically focus on no more than the next month-planning meetings should focus on 6-12 months.
  2. LIFT THE PERSPECTIVE TO THE SUCCESS OF THE WHOLE ORGANIZATION OR DEPARTMENT. Day-to-day, leaders are concerned about the needs of their departments and what they need to meet their commitments. In planning meetings everyone has to commit to what is best for the whole organization / department.
  3. MAKE SURE EVERYONE PREPARES. Make sure all participants have to do some preparation work prior to a planning meeting. This helps shift their minds to the requirements of planning and ensures this thinking starts prior to the meeting.
  4. MEET IN A NEW LOCATION. Old habits of thinking and acting are reinforced when people meet in the same place over and over again. You don’t have to go to a fancy resort, but meeting in a new location helps people think differently.
  5. ALLOW TIME FOR CONVERSATION, REFLECTION AND RESOLUTION OF CONFLICT. In operational meetings, time pressure squeezes out the opportunity to talk through complex issues and forces people to patch over conflicts. Allow more conversational space to change the quality of thinking and relating.
  6. RELENTLESSLY FOCUS ON THE IMPORTANT 20%. Issues that are important to discuss and resolve in a planning meeting are those that stand out in terms of value or potential risk over the longer term time frame for the organization / department as a whole. Discuss other issues in different forums.
  7. COMMIT TO DELIVERABLES BUT DON’T START A MASSIVE TO-DO LIST. Planning meetings should not create a lot of work for the participants. They should shift some priorities and people will have to commit to action but you have to be realistic about what can be accomplished between meetings.
  8. FOLLOW UP ON COMMITMENTS. When people commit to action, they should be expected to deliver. Every planning meeting should start with a progress review of the last meeting’s commitments.

Fall Line Systems has designed and facilitated a very large number of planning meetings over the years. Some examples follow:

  • Designed and facilitated a two day, full department meeting for Esso Resources Geophysical Department to develop a technology and organizational strategy for the next five years.
  • Established the meeting template, designed and facilitated quarterly leadership team meetings for Novagas Canada, Emera Energy, CPV Group and other organization’s executive teams.
  • Facilitated planning and goal setting meetings for departments within Husky Oil, United Way of Calgary, University of Calgary, Aboriginal Management Group of the NWT, and many other organizations.

The following projects in our portfolio describe our work with Planning: