Keep Issues Clear in Your Company's Planning Meeting

Article excerpt

When gathering information for strategic planning, you will often find disagreement between key employees in such basic areas as the markets the company is trying to penetrate and the basic belief system of the company. I have worked with companies in which there were major disagreements among their planning team members regarding the true motivations behind their customers' purchase of their products.

One of the surprising things I have encountered in planning team meetings is the inability of some bright people to accept the realities of privately owned business, particularly the family realities, which often leads to disagreement and confusion. They propose options that may make good business sense, but, which they should know, will be in conflict with family goals.

In one planning meeting I attended, two of the team members fought tenaciously to close a plant down that was being managed by the owner's youngest son. The plant was never closed because the reason for it being open was to develop the management skills of the young son. The father never stated this as a reason during the planning meeting and the two senior level managers never read the situation correctly during the meeting. Planning team members must show why they disagree, if at all, with the missions or underlying beliefs being set forth. This is the time when they should press their own views. The planning meeting is a forum where major inconsistencies in the company vision and mission can be put to bed before they interfere with operations. These differences must be resolved before the planning team can go on to define an operational strategy. For example, at the planning team meeting of one company, three of the members brought about a major change to the grand strategy that had been developed in the foundation meeting position paper. The grand strategy included an entry into a new market that was greatly expanding because of environmental developments. The three members convinced the others that the company did not have the resources to compete effectively in the new market and did not have a reasonable opportunity to obtain the resources. …