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Strategy: Do You Spend Enough Time on It?

For your team or business, do you ever say:

  • “I feel like our team is always dealing with tactical issues or fire-fighting.”

  • “Our weekly team meetings are primarily status reporting – and boring.”

  • “It feels like we don’t gain momentum; instead, the same problems keep reoccurring.”

These are frequent complaints CrisMarie and I hear from leaders we work with. To be honest, we’ve had those issues ourselves.

Our thrive! Marketing Example

Recently, at thrive! we’ve been fire-fighting around the issue of marketing our business. With only three months to go, we realized that one of the programs we’d launched wasn’t filled. Why? Because we were focusing on delivering leadership development to corporate offsites.

So CrisMarie and I embarked on a crisis mode approach to get the program filled. During this mad dash, we said, “We never want this to happen again! We need more strategic meetings to be better prepared.”

During our post-training debrief, we came up with a great plan, but something was missing. CrisMarie and I focused on solving one marketing problem rather than look at this as a symptom of a bigger issue – paying attention to the larger organizational clarity of our business.

Then we return to speaking events, delivering team off-sites, conducting leadership development programs, and coaching. The great plan fades into the background until the next crisis point – a program isn’t full, not enough corporate clients, or not enough speaking gigs on the calendar. Suddenly, we’re right back to fire-fighting again, thinking our marketing isn’t working. UGH!!

The problem isn’t our marketing.

The problem is – we aren’t looking at our marketing in the context of our overall thrive! organizational clarity.

Regular Monthly Strategy Sessions

When CrisMarie and I facilitate leadership team offsites, we share the importance of regular monthly strategy meetings.

It’s the number one meeting missing in an executive leadership teams’ meeting rhythm. Sure, they may be meeting every week, but they are trying to shove strategic topics into a weekly tactical meeting. It winds up unsatisfying for everyone and little forward progress is made.

When leadership teams make a commitment to have regular monthly strategic meetings, they make exceptional progress and usually have more fun. It gets even better when you build in a quarterly offsite to really do a deep dive both on the team health and the organizational strategy. If you want to know more about how to be successful with your meetings, check out The Beauty of Conflict: Harnessing Your Team’s Competitive Advantage, Chapter 27.

Once teams adopt this strategic rhythm, leaders consistently say, “This is the greatest return on our investment!” We’ve said it too.

Strategic meetings are the key lever to help teams and organizations shift from fire-fighting to creating momentum towards accomplishing a long-term vision or goal.

How to Have Effective Strategic Meetings

Here’s how to have an effective strategic meeting or session – even if it starts from a present crisis. Don’t get sucked in.

Our simple format for these sessions involves three key steps:

Step 1: Zoom Back – Look at the big picture of your business, not just the current crisis.

Reference back to where you were the last time you had a strategic meeting.

  • Where was the business the last time you met?

  • Where is the business now?

  • Identify your successes since last time.

  • Where do you want to go?

Step 2: Brainstorm “What’s Working?” and “What’s Not Working?”

Have a flip chart in the front of the room and give everyone post-its and sharpies. Have each person focus both on the business and the team dynamics, and brainstorm using one topic per post it:

  • Start with What’s Working?

  • Move to What’s Not Working?

  • Then, pull the themes together. This will help you identify gaps and what needs to be addressed to meet your long-term goals.

Step 3: Moving Forward

After looking at the big picture and what’s working and what’s not, you can identify what needs to be addressed to move you towards your long-term goal or vision by taking in the whole context of your business.

  • Identify where do we need to put our focus

  • What’s most important to move us forward

We find this simple formula for a strategic session works really well.

Back to thrive!

CrisMarie and I just had our long-overdue monthly strategic meeting and came up with an over-arching business strategy that includes marketing. We’ll see how it unfolds— you will too!

Pull out of just fire-fighting and review the bigger picture. It usually leads to a much more satisfying and effective strategy. Especially when you do this regularly and course correct as you go.

Make time for strategy to see your business soar!


P.S. If you want to know more about how to be successful with your meetings, check out The Beauty of Conflict: Harnessing Your Team’s Competitive Advantage, Chapter 27.


CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke

Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict

CrisMarie and Susan work leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.

They help turnaround dysfunctional teams into high performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy so they create great results.

Check out their website: Connect with CrisMarie and Susan on LinkedIn. Watch their TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It! Find your copy of The Beauty of Conflict: Harnessing Your Team's Competitive Advantage here.

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