Entries in strategic planning (2)


In Good Hands

In Good Hands

From time to time, I try to imagine what it will be like in fifteen or twenty years and how my son and his peers will manage in a complex and ever-changing world.  There are times when I’m concerned that our kids will repeat the mistakes of history because they don’t study history. And then there are times when I smile and think, “We’ll be okay.”

As some of you may already know, a friend and I have been exploring the possibility of starting a micro-winery in the Hudson Valley of New York as a side business that will produce fruit wines from locally grown fruit. (Just in case you’re wondering, I have every intention to continue in my consulting and coaching business for many years to come!) Earlier this week, I had a meeting with a well-known local winery to explore the possibility of initially making our wines under their roof and with some of their state-of-the art equipment.  Disclosure -- I felt like a kid in a candy store! That night, my sixteen-year-old asked me how the meeting went.  And then he peppered me with a series of questions that blew my mind.

The questions came in waves, each one deeper and more impressive than the one before it.  Our conversation went something like this:

“How long will it take to break even?”  (Translation: “Have you really thought this thing out, Dad?”)

“How will you protect your different fruit wine ‘recipes?’” (Translation: “Who are these people and are they trustworthy?”)

“What are the pros and cons of renting space and equipment from the winery versus having them make the wine for you?” (Translation: “What are the costs/benefits of each approach?”)

My son knows that I love making wine and it is this awareness that made me pay even closer attention to his next question. “Why would you want to pay someone else to make your wine if winemaking gives you so much pleasure?”  (Translation: “Do you really want to delegate this aspect of the project to someone else? This led to a great sidebar conversation about how, why, and when one needs to delegate.)

“Will you be able to get enough raspberries and peaches locally if the micro-winery takes off and what impact will climate change have locally over the next 10-15 years?” (Translation: “What are some of the events outside of your control that might impact your business and what are some ‘What If?’ scenarios that you need to consider now, rather than later?”)

My son diverted his attention back to his homework and I sat down in front of the woodstove to reflect on the conversation that had just transpired. Moments later my wife asked me what was on my mind.  I smiled.  “I was just thinking that the world will be in good hands when this generation of kids grow up.”



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Six Things You Need To Know To Plan A Great Offsite Meeting

Fall is a great time to bring your leadership team together for an offsite to focus on the future.  After all, 2013 is just ten weeks away.  Well-planned and well-run offsite meetings provide the opportunity to reflect on what you and your team have done really well, where you’ve fallen a bit short of the mark, and what specifically you chose to continue or to do differently going forward. Offsites are also a terrific for ensuring that your team is aligned and all on the same page. (More on this topic in a future posting.)

If you have the funds, make the investment and take your team away from the office – even if it’s just for one-day. (If you can afford an overnight retreat, even better.)  If you don’t have the funds, beg or borrow from your next budget – it will be money well spent!

Here are six things you need to know to plan a great offsite meeting:

  1. Establish clear and reasonable objectives and make them known in advance.

  2. Invite input into the meeting design.  What you think your team wants to discuss is often different from what they want to discuss.

  3. Make the meeting engaging and provide ample opportunities for participants to interact with each other, in both structured and non-structured ways.

  4. Encourage focused dialog, use minimal PowerPoint.

  5. Engage an expert to help you design and facilitate your offsite.

  6. Have fun.

Happy to answer questions if you’re contemplating an offsite.