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Energize Your Business Planning

By on September 14, 2007 – 6:00 am  3 Comments

Margaret Greenberg, MAPP '06, is co-author of Profit from the Positive. After a 15-year career in corporate HR, she founded The Greenberg Group, an organizational effectiveness consulting practice, in 1997. Margaret specializes in coaching executives and their teams using a strengths-based approach. Full bio.

Margaret's solo articles are here and her articles with Senia Maymin are here.

It’s September and that means back to school time for American kids and business planning time for American businesses. In most organizations the business planning cycle is in full swing preparing for the upcoming year and beyond:  and that means lots of meetings!  Unfortunately, planning meetings are often met with huge groans as executives recall last year’s mind-numbing, PowerPoint presentations.  Energize your business planning?  That can sound like an oxymoron. 

Business Meeting

Business Meeting

So how we can make business planning more energizing and truly capture the innovative thinking, analysis, and passion of participants?  Here are a half-dozen tips from my experience working with organizations on how to tap into the positive side of business planning.

·        Create a Strengths Team Profile – to illustrate the diversity (or lack thereof) of the team, have participants complete some kind of self-assessment (e.g. – StrengthsFinder 2.0, Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument, VIA Signature Strengths).  Compile individual results into a Team Profile and share the results at the first planning session.
·        Conduct an External and Internal Scan – enlist others to prepare both an external scan (e.g. – trends) of your industry and an internal scan (e.g. – Strengths, Problems, Opportunities & Threats) of your business.  Spending time up front gathering this information will prepare participants for richer dialogue and ultimately better decision making.

·        Use Icebreakers – kick off planning meetings with a positive exercise like:  What are you most proud of?  Or, name 3 things you accomplished this year and who on this team or elsewhere in the organization helped you?  Notice the energy in the room shift to a positive, upward spiral.  Share with the team that they just experienced Dr. Fredrickson’s Broaden & Build Theory in action and how this positive energy will help them as they embark on planning discussions.
·        Tap into Strengths – rather than focusing exclusively on gaps, focus on what the organization is already good at and discuss how to leverage these strengths even more.  Use the Team Profile you developed in advance of the session to talk about individual and team strengths. 
·        Build in Time to Dream – we know from Appreciative Inquiry (see Kathryn Britton’s May 7, 2007 article “Taking Positive Psychology to Work, Part 1:  Positive Core & Strengths“) how inspiring a dream or vision can be.  When it comes to planning, don’t just focus on the next 6-12 months – dream a little.  Use visualization exercises like:  It’s 2012 and you’re the keynote speaker at a (name a conference your participants would most likely attend) conference.  You’ve been asked to share how your organization has become such a leader in the industry. 
·        End the Session on a High Note – we know from Kahneman and Fredrickson’s peak-end rule that endings do indeed matter (see Derrick Carpenter’s June 22, 2007 article “On Adventure and Filet Mignon“).  Build in time at the end of the meetings to share individual commitments (using the Stop/Continue/Start model), express what people are most excited about and/or what their “elevator speech” will be.

You really can energize your business planning and through the process, energize your workplace.  This list of tips is by no means exhaustive.  I welcome your ideas. 

Business Meeting courtesy of llawliet


  • Senia says:

    Margaret, I love all your four during points. You also structured them like the flow of a talk…
    * icebreaker (what are you most proud of?)
    * AI and moving forward discussions (what are we great at? how can we dream?)
    * ender (how do we make the ending wonderful?)

    Margaret, what is the start/continue/stop model?


  • Thank you Senia for your feedback. The Start/Continue/Stop model is just a framework I use to help people think about and capture the changes they would like to make. I often pair people up and discuss their Start/Continue/Stop and then we go around the room and I capture them. When the team comes together again, in say 3-6 months, we revisit the Starts/Continues/Stops. It’s a simple, concrete way to talk about individual commitments.

  • Senia says:

    Oh, I see, thank you, Margaret!

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