CEO’s don’t get left behind this August

Written by Jennifer Kelly, Director StrategyBox consulting Ltd

It is that time of year again where most businesses are launching into their Strategic Planning Cycle.

The whole purpose of undertaking a  strategic planning cycle is to identify new areas of opportunity that will add value to your business and formulate a plan to get there.

Most businesses undertake this review as part of their yearly planning cycle, to ensure they keep up the momentum in the company, they had from the prior year's objectives and ensure they always keep an eye on the longer-term goal. Other business, usually smaller business undertakes the review as an ad hoc review when they want to improve performance in an area of their business, or they want to expand in terms of their product or market. Either way, the trigger point for any CEO to undertake a strategic review, will be that they require something to change or a plan to get to a certain point. Post Covid-19 is a time where most businesses are feeling the pain of cash flow and are looking for operational cost improvement initiatives or a change in direction.  

If you are a CEO and you are looking to define where your company is going and want to formulate a plan to get there, I have put these simple steps below to give you some guidance. There is effort, time, and resources that go hand in hand with these types of plans. BUT, if you plan it out wisely, you can save a lot of time and effort and create a structured plan that will get results.

 The reason you should start looking at this nearing the end of August is that it gives you the opportunity to forecast for the end of the year and establish the goals that you want to achieve for 2021. Your Board or Shareholders and your team will be looking to get this from their leader anyway, so you may as well give yourself the time to do it.

Planning may be the last thing on your mind, but a CEO's mindset to be able to shift above the clouds and delegate some of the operational load is key. You do not have to consume all your energy into this, it may just take a little planning to get this done in the months ahead.


What you can do now to set you up for success.

Create a governance calendar.

This will allow you to plan out the sessions that you need to have with your leadership team and the financial team to understand the current situation.


Get your finance team to prepare the Financial forecasts

so you can take a closer look at the assumptions and projections.


Map out time to look at how the market is changing

In the current environment and put some scenarios around how this will affect you in the longer term.


Understand your sales forecasts.

Which Clients are using your services still? Which clients have put their spending on hold?


Review your Lessons learned.

I cannot reiterate how important it is that you and your team look back on your lessons learned. Imagine the wealth of knowledge that you would get from just looking at things like, how your team reacted to the COVID 19 situation or how your projects were delivered or how your IT infrastructure was effective enough to get you through. This is unbelievably valuable information that you should be collecting after each project or event. There are easy ways to prepare a lesson learned and to track them.


Get your team's buy-in and input.

Tell your teams that you are planning and that you want their input. After all, you are the leader of the organization and that is what they expect you to be doing. You need to ensure you have a flywheel effect of momentum going on in your company. People that you hired should be self-motivated because they want the company to succeed. If that is not the case, you need to revisit that with the employees.


In order to get the team's buy-in

There are multiple questions that you can ask your team, which is a way to provide input into where they think the business is positioned now and where they think the company could be in the future. This format can be easily generated to pull information from your team even virtually. This information then can be gathered into a SWOT analysis and can be the basis for planning through your next steps.



Your Strategic plan is usually set out over a longer period. This is a strategy that you have invested in. ideally, you will be reviewing your Strategy every 6 months to see if there are any drivers that require change. This will be a tweak to your strategy. Your Strategic planning cycle is a way to ensure that you are tying down what is happening operationally to your strategy. This means that you are linking Strategy to operational execution and therefore your Strategy does not become irrelevant, it becomes a living force, where your team has visibility and everyone on your team is rowing in the same direction. There is a good way to link Strategy to work that your teams are doing.


If you need any help with your Strategic Planning Cycle, any templates to map it out, Let me know.


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About me

I have 16 years of experience as a Director with a demonstrated history of working in strong, diverse, international industries,  in strategic planning and business delivery roles. I have experience at both Multinationals and Small-Medium enterprises which gives me the advantage of understanding all levels of business. 

I have reported to the CEO of organizations and sat at the leadership level for the last ten years. I was fortunate to gain huge experience across global industries in different industry sectors. 

I have worked on large acquisitions and project delivery in Ireland, the UK, the USA, and the Caribbean. 

Process, People, and Technology are key to any business success along with lessons learned. I have worked with incredible CEOs and leaders over the years who have molded my thought process and given me insights and experience that I can pass onto other companies. My aim is to help as many businesses as I can that will add value to their customers and business.