Strategy Day

Blueprint for Success: How to Conduct a Game-Changing Strategy Day

What is a strategy day?

Many companies we’ve worked with choose to run a day, or a few days, where they bring people together to launch the latest strategy: a strategy day. The intention may only be to share the new strategy, or the goals may be far deeper and more ambitious. In the lead-up to the strategy day, attention may have been paid to your organisation’s purpose, mission and values. Typically, a creative agency or similar is contracted to make the experience look really good. There is normally a lot of investment and a strong desire for it to be impactful. 

Why do companies run a strategy day?

The goals behind bringing people together in this way typically vary a little but normally include some aspects relating to: 

  • Core team members understand the new strategy
  • Excitement is being built around the new strategy
  • Talk of ‘Activating’ the strategy
  • People being equipped to go back to their teams and help them get excited about the new strategy.

What normally happens? 

There are normally multiple sections to the strategy on a day or day basis. People typically have a lovely time. They thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to connect with their colleagues, catch up and share what has been happening, learn from one another, and feel connected again. People enjoy the food, the drinks, and the social parts of what happens during these times. 

Presentations from the CEO and heads of departments are common. They are often held in large ballroom-style spaces, either with people seated in theatre style or on round cabaret tables. Some of these talks are engaging, and some struggle not to be ‘death by PowerPoint’. 

Far too frequently, we have seen the section in the day where the smart people in the room are told to write down on post-it notes how they’re going to make the strategy a reality. They may be given 15 minutes to brainstorm the answer to questions such as ‘How do we succeed with the global consumer?’ or ‘What will we look like when we win?’ (which I’m told means – how will we do things differently?). The structure of this section is riddled with problems, and organisations almost never walk away with what they had hoped for. The reasons for this are very predictable when you understand how people’s brains work. 

How is an external keynote effective as part of a strategy day?

A keynote should be selected carefully. Some off-the-shelf keynotes can be engaging and enjoyable and even teach a few new things that people find interesting and helpful. However, many organisations report that standard keynotes can also be transient in their effectiveness. 

A keynote that aligns with your messages and provides practical ways to implement them is crucial. Amy Brann’s keynotes stand out because she doesn’t blame people for past actions. Instead, she helps them understand why previous strategies made sense at the time and acknowledges that everyone was doing their best. She introduces new scientific insights that explain why a different approach will be more effective moving forward, emphasizing that these discoveries are recent and not widely known.

It’s important to consider the purpose of the external speaker. If their story is essential for your audience, it can be both memorable and impactful. However, organizations are often disappointed with the results because they were not clear about their desired outcomes. This lack of clarity can lead to choosing a speaker who isn’t the best fit.

What else do you need to consider as part of this strategy day experience?

Synaptic Potential has developed a checklist we take people through in order to ensure you are considering everything that others have found out through trial and error when running their strategy day! We’ve also added the relevant behavioural science that will help change be sustainable. Just a couple of points to pull out of the more comprehensive document: 

  1. How can you get really clear on the purpose of the event – you need far more detail around this than most people normally prepare
  2. What happens before everyone comes together
  3. What happens after everyone goes their separate ways
  4. What specifically do you want people to be able to do after the event that they couldn’t or weren’t before – again, from a behavioural science perspective, you need a lot more detail than most people realise

Also, consider the full range of practical, and logistical factors. This is not our exhaustive list, but some to get on with:

  1. Is your venue set up to enable you to do what you need space-wise? Inside and outside? Does it trigger the right states in your people? (Knowing the research helps here.)
  2. Is the seating configuration going to evoke the most helpful behaviours? (You must be clear on what they are!)
  3. Have you built enough social time into the agenda? 

These events can change the course of a company’s trajectory. Or you can be back again the next year trying to accomplish what you didn’t manage this year. 

How can you really make the strategy day event as impactful as it can be? 

One of the other most common challenges people face after a strategy day is, ‘How do I explain this to my team?’ People walk away knowing that they had a great day or a couple of days, but they’re not sure how to pass on that excitement and optimism to their teams. 

When the energy dissipates, they are also often left realising that the types of questions their team will ask them…they can’t actually answer. This can be really frustrating and detrimental after such a great experience. With better planning, strategy day design and keynote speaker, you can ensure this isn’t your experience. 

How can SP support you with your strategy day?

Synaptic Potential has supported many different types of organisations with these sorts of away days. The earlier we can be involved, the more positively we can help you shape the strategy day. They are amazing fun, but they can also be really impactful and positively impact the organisation for years to come. We have different levels of support available depending on need and budget. We look forward to hearing from you if you’re considering running a strategy day – or even if you’re at the late stage of just trying to find a keynote speaker. We’ve often turned up the night before to a venue and sat with the organisers, helping them make the tweaks that will be correct! But with more planning time, we can be even more helpful.

Looking to leave a lasting impression on senior leaders? Our Leadership Event Success Kit provides the resources to create unforgettable experiences that resonate with your organisation’s goals. 

Choose a Topic

Recent Posts

You May Also Like…