Advice for Keeping Strategy Meetings Focused on the Long Term

By Harvard Business Review
September 21, 2017

This can be a challenge for senior executives unless they establish directions and guidelines. Here are four tips to consider. 

Achieving a balance between long- and short-term demands can be challenging for senior executives who don’t realize the pitfalls of meetings that conflate strategy and operations.

As you plan your strategic meetings, consider the following tips:

When you blend short- and long-term agenda items into one meeting, short-term issues will almost always win.

Design a learning environment. People will be much less likely to derail a strategic conversation if they feel more confident in their own ability to participate. To facilitate this result, you can plan a series of learning sessions preceding the strategic meetings to educate your team and get everyone on the same page.

Detach operational meetings from strategic ones. When you blend short- and long-term agenda items into one meeting, short-term issues will almost always win. Schedule separate meetings for operational and strategic topics.

Explore strategic issues from multiple angles. Issues that need to be addressed over the long term will benefit from exploration before solution. Before jumping in to solve strategic issues, look for approaches that can generate the right dialogue and provide additional perspectives. This might involve using different brainstorming techniques, channeling critics' and competitors’ thoughts, or creating a slower, more deliberate dialogue process that involves all participants.

Declare your intention and go. If you’re serious about shifting the conversation from the mundane to the strategic, declare your intention explicitly at the start of your meeting, and hold people to it. As the most senior leader, it’s your job to kick-start the discussion and keep it on track.

 Copyright 2017 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

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