Our planning meeting is at a chalet in Lac Heney, Quebec.
This afternoon, after heading to the airport to pick up Leslie Greenwood (flying in from Sault. Ste. Marie) and Bob Kruhm (from North Carolina), we head on a two or so hour drive to a chalet in a remote, rural West Quebec area. Other employees and key contractors from Ottawa, Petawawa and St. Catharines will also make their way to the meeting, which starts tonight and ends Tuesday afternoon. (We have a soft agenda tonight, a full scale all day planning meeting tomorrow, and salespeople stay on for an additional day to discuss and co-ordinate specific sales objectives relating to the plans devised on Monday.)
The meeting's cost, of course, is not insignificant -- we pay our facilitators Bill Caswell and UpkarBikhu from Caswell Corporate Coaching Company significant fees, transportation, per-diems and hourly pay for non-salaried employees, food, and accommodations for everyone. Bu the meeting process, and resulting plan, is as important to the business as any expense, and is really important to your organization once you have six to eight or more employees and key contractors.
Why? Structured and co-ordinated planning meetings allow you to combine big picture awareness with practical decision-making; involving all your employees and key contractors in the process results in the power of shared ownership, direction, and creativity. You get your rules to work with, your structure, your vision, and your objectors realigned and reset, and you are then ready to move forward with the year ahead. And you can see where things didn't quite work as planned, and then fix these problems.
Planning meetings cannot predict or solve every problem, of course. The world 'outside' changes -- and this year has been tumultuous in the economy (something we must consider in the plans ahead). And people change. Some leave and others join the business; and their visions differ. Finally, practical opportunities and realities occur -- you learn new things, you discover new market possibilities, andpeople through the year present thoughts and concepts to you worthy of consideration.
All of these points could lead you to rationalize that planning meetings are a waste of time and money, because the plan can never follow exactly as proposed. But that misses the point. Without a plan, you will just travel rudderless, allowing your emotions, strong-willed people, and individual self-interest to rule and define your decisions. You will get lost in the woods (hopefully we won't, this afternoon, as we find our way to the site.)
At the planning meeting, we'll have limited Internet access -- so there may be a gap in entries for a few days here.
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