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Top 10 tips for creating the time for strategic thinking

Very often, the biggest constraint for business owners is their time. Those who make time to think strategically tend to punch above their weight. We know this intuitively, but operational issues can easily get in the way.

If you are guiding your business on its strategic agenda, it’s your job to isolate the right quantity and quality of strategic thinking time.

Here are 10 tips for doing so:

1. Split board meetings between strategy and operations – potentially in separate meetings, possibly with a smaller steering group

2. Schedule the dates for the entire year ahead and never cancel the meetings

3. Use the One Page Plan as a framework. If you are discussing something that isn’t on the plan – either the plan is wrong, or you probably aren’t being strategic

4. Get the administrative protocols right – E.g. agenda in advance, circulate papers a week in advance, start and finish on time, bullet point minutes of actions and follow up action progress between meetings

5. Be aware of where the conversation is leading while keeping a balance between strategic and operational issues

6. If there are some short-term, burning issues, factor them into the One Page Plan, but don’t get bogged down – decide how they should be tackled outside the meeting (e.g. project team) and move on

7. Be conscious that you’re not spending too much time managing exceptions (i.e. actions not completed and excuses). This is a total waste of everyone’s time

8. Ensure someone is responsible for keeping the meeting strategic – usually this will be the chair or facilitator

9. Make your planning process iterative. Don’t put all your effort into the annual away-day, but evolve the strategy as you go along

10. Define the rules for each meeting – E.g. ego-less, listening, not interrupting, allowing everyone a turn to speak.

Do this well and everyone will get good value from their strategic time and be able to reduce the time they waste fighting fires. If you would have any questions or would like to discuss this topic in further details please email richard.miller@dafferns.com

With thanks to Paul Hopwood.