Day two of your executive offsite picks up right where you left off in day one, with goals. As the day progresses, you and your team will get increasingly precise until you’ve boiled those goals down to the specific, actionable tasks that you can assign to your team members.
Day two is where the rubber meets the road and where discussion transforms into action!
Here’s what the agenda for day two looks like at a glance.
- Check-in: You covered a lot of ground on day one, so it’s a good idea to check-in with everybody on the day’s major decisions now that they have had a night to sleep on it.
- Goals Part 2: You’ll set concrete achievable goals that you will achieve this year.
- Strategies: You’ll identify the key strategies that give you the greatest return on time, money, and effort.
- Tactics: You’ll define the specific tactics that set you apart in the market place, build unstoppable momentum, and ensure your enduring success
- Wrap-up: You’ll bridge the decision-implementation divide by reviewing the findings and decisions you made and assign the next steps for each individual on the team.
Session 6: Goals Part 2
Duration: 90 minutes
We’re approaching ground level now. In “Goals Part 2,” we focus on the year ahead. We start with 1-year goals. There are two types, your standard objectives and your over-arching medium-term goal (OMG).
Standard Objectives: For each of your key metrics (revenue, profit, production, etc.), set a numerical target. Keep in mind that you should have between 3 and 7 key metrics. These are your standard objectives. Your standard objectives should have a little stretch in them, but you should achieve them 100% of the time. You don’t want to inflate your sales goal by 20%, invest the capacity to handle the increase, and then come up short. You’ll be left worse off than if you hadn’t set the goal.
Don’t be optimistic.
You had your chance to scratch the optimism itch in your mission, vision, 10-year and 3-year goals. Now it’s time to be a bit more realistic. If you’ve grown by 10% for the last three years, you could set a goal for 12%, but it would likely be unwise to set a goal for 50% growth.
Let me repeat that. Don’t be optimistic. My team and I got ourselves in more trouble being too optimistic with our goals and setting the bar too high than we did by being too realistic and setting the bar too low.
Especially in the beginning, give yourself a few easy wins. Let your goal-setting processes gain their momentum before swinging for the fences. I promise slow and steady always wins the goal-setting process race.
If all you accomplish during this time is to set your standard objectives, you will have made significant progress. If you don’t get to your OMG in your first offsite, don’t sweat it. You’ll still have plenty to take action on.
Over-arching Medium-term Goal: Next, look at your major year-long projects and pick one of them. The most important one. This is one of the most powerful tools for a leader looking to speed up organizational momentum, as can be seen in its repeated use by virtually every titan of corporate goal-setting. It is the Wildly Important Goal from 4DX. It is the Objective from OKR. It is the Thematic Goal from Table Group. And the Single Pre-eminent Goal from Les McKeown.
Session 7: Strategies
Duration: 90 minutes
Strategies are all about achieving your goals. There are likely 1,000 good ways to get to your goals. But you can’t send your team in 1,000 directions at the same time. Strategies help focus your energy in the three to five areas that will give you the most significant return on your effort.
This will set you up to choose the right tactics and set quarterly goals that build on each other each quarter. These strategies are an essential barrier against what Mark Winters calls Organizational Whiplash. Instead of bouncing from idea to idea every quarter (or every week), your strategies will allow you to harness your creativity and focus your energy and build momentum in each consecutive quarter.
Strategies shape your position in the market. They inform your hiring decisions. They highlight the tactics and actions that will best work together to move your entire organization toward its goals.
For example, Southwest Airlines’ strategic anchors are to “keep fair prices low,” “create fanatically loyal customers,” and “make sure the planes are on time.” This helps Southwest Airlines prevent cost creep and maintain its competitive advantage as each new expense is weighed against these strategies.
At my previous company, StartCHURCH, our strategic anchors were, “we partner with pastors,” “we make complicated things simple,” “we offer low-cost solutions and affordable pricing.”
At Eight Figure Focus, my strategic anchors are “outgive the market,” “to founders first,” and “systems, not souls.”
Take this time to identify the three to five primary ways to succeed as an organization at reaching your goals and fulfilling your mission.
For more help on setting strategies, check out this podcast by Les McKeown or this podcast by the Table Group.
Session 8: Tactics
Duration: 90 minutes
Alright, now it’s time to get down to the brass tacks. We’re going to focus on what you need to do exceptionally well over the next 90 days. Tactics should be ground-level blocking and tackling. What are the actual plays you want your people to run every day? In the sea of tasks, which ones yield the biggest return and warrant the most attention? How do you want your team to make decisions and prioritize? We often don’t realize it, but every one of your team members is making between 15-30 non-trivial decisions every single day. Tactics are the absolute best tool to point those decisions in the right direction.
When discussing tactics, there are two tracks you can follow: standard operations and stretch goals.
At your first offsite, you will be tempted to go after your stretch goals. They are new and exciting and necessary for the growth of the organization. However, they may be a huge mistake.
Remember, so much of what you are trying to accomplish at your offsite and in this stage of your business is the actual process of focusing and aligning your company. If you come back from the meeting with a laundry list of new ideas, it’s going to move you 180˚ away from where you are trying to go. It will confuse your employees, who will feel torn between doing their current work well and making time for these new initiatives. One of two things will happen.
- Your team will cheer for the new ideas in the beginning then promptly ignore them to focus on their real work and existing responsibilities.
- Your team will get so excited about the new ideas that they will focus too much energy on the latest projects and drop the ball on the fundamentals.
So focus your tactics discussion first and foremost on meeting your standard objectives. If you have the time and clarity, you can shift your focus to those necessary tactics to achieve your OMG from your goals session.
If you’ve done this process correctly, your tactics should neatly tie into one or more of your strategies. If you are missing that alignment, you may want to reconsider the strategies you created from your strategies session.
Session 9: Wrap-up
Duration: 90 minutes
Wow, that was a long two days. By this point, your brain is probably getting a little crispy. Most leaders will even feel physically exhausted by this point.
According to Dr. Marcus Raichle, while the brain represents just 2% of a person’s total body weight, it accounts for 20% of the body’s energy use. Executive offsites are like a marathon for your brain.
This isn’t just an interesting science; it has a genuine impact on the productivity of your time together. I know for us, we were tempted to skip the wrap-up session every single time. If the offsite is a marathon, the wrap-up is the last mile. Your time to the 25-mile mark means nothing if you don’t cover the full 26.22 miles to cross the finish line.
You will be tired. The steps in this session will seem bleedingly obvious. But you can’t skip it. If you do, the confusion gremlins will sneak in and quietly undermine your efforts to transform all this talk into action.
To finish strong, here’s what you need to do. Go around the room, and for each session, have one person recap the session. Make sure they cover the following points:
- What aha moments occurred?
- What commitments were made?
- Who is responsible for each of those commitments?
- When are they due?
- Who else needs to know, and how will they be notified?
Each session recap should take about five minutes.
You, as the leader, will start with Session 1. Then I’d encourage you, rather than bearing the burden of recapping every session yourself or making any other poor soul do all the work, go around the room and have a different leader recap each session. This will boost individual contribution, increase team ownership, and root out confusion amongst team members.
Finally, make sure you are clear on who is tasked with drafting the post-offsite report.
After your wrap-up session, you and your team will be ready to take all that hard work, and all those calories burned and put them straight into action when you return to the office.
In the next article, I’ll show you how to return from an offsite the right way and avoid some of the traps I only discovered the hard way!
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