Strategic Planning Checklist


By Phil Harwood

Fall is the perfect time for leadership teams to review and update their strategic plans. In fact, it is an organizational best practice to do this once a year. In this blog post, I will be sharing a simple checklist of items to consider as you plan your retreat.

Strategic Planning Checklist

___  Define the objective(s). Typically, retreats are for the purpose of determining your long-term strategic direction, identifying major changes related to the strategy, and/or clarifying short-term initiatives, goals, and changes to the organization over the next twelve months.

___  Save the date. Invite attendees well in advance so they can make arrangements with spouses, children, parents, pets, etc. It’s best to schedule next year’s retreat at the end of this year’s retreat so it’s on the calendar a year in advance. 

___  Determine the location. Ideally, retreats are in-person and held off-site to eliminate distractions and optimize the experience for all attendees. Small groups meeting in large spaces are able to spread out to maintain social distancing recommendations. Book the space well in advance, along with guest rooms if spending the night. 

___ Hire a facilitator. The last thing you want is for your retreat to be a miserable experience for anyone. An experienced facilitator will greatly assist with your retreat preparation and take a huge load off the shoulders of whoever was going to attempt to facilitate and actively participate (good luck with that) in their own retreat. 

___  Take care of the details. Assign responsibility and make arrangements for all meals, snacks, water, and fresh coffee at all times. This is often a time-consuming task with lots of small decisions to make. It’s best to get an early jump on this. If materials need to be printed, add this to the list as well.

___  Team-building. Determine if any team-building or extra-curricular activities are to be held and assign responsibility for making arrangements.

___  Share the agenda. Give all attendees an opportunity in advance to prepare themselves by sharing the agenda. Encourage each participant to find some quiet time to make notes and be prepared to discuss the items on the agenda.

___  Keep your facilitator informed of any changes to the agenda, location, etc. You don’t want there to be any last minute surprises, if you can help it. 

___ Enjoy the process. Even a short, 2-day retreat provides space for discussions and personal interactions that will not likely take place in the office. 

If you haven’t yet booked your retreat for this fall, it’s not too late. Many of the conference centers are underutilized due to the pandemic. Space is available and at very reasonable rates. 

If you are interested in our facilitation, feel free to reach out to me at for availability and pricing. 

Now go forth.

Tags: Leadership , Strategy , Checklist , Fall , Objectives , Team-building ,