CEO Think Tank Annual Retreat

To those of you in the Northern Hemisphere – Happy Summer!

No matter if you’ve been having a good first half of the year or just middling –  it’s still a business “best” practice for a mid-year check! Time to take a step back from “the game”, get perspective on what’s been accomplished and plan for the second half.

So to help you stay on track or get your perspective back, here’s seven tips and suggestions to make the second half a game winner:

1)      Give yourself the gift of “think time” 

Even if it’s just a long weekend or in my case a day – away from phones and technology interruptions.  Take a look at your plan, what you’ve accomplished, where you’re on track, where you’re not and determine what your one or two priorities are for the second half.  Give yourself some “sleep” time too as part of the process.  The frontal lobe shuts down when we sleep. After a full day of reflecting, the rest of the brain can kick in to muse on what’s been thought over – and possibly bring additional insights and ah ha’s to the forefront.

2)       Schedule your Mid-Year review meeting 

Although it’s not part of the formal “Scaling Up” meeting rhythms, I highly recommend having a Mid-Year Review with your team.  Even a half a day with your team can prove valuable.  The agenda I use includes reviewing the SWOT (Strengths/ Weaknesses/ Opportunities/ Threats) to see what might have changed since you did annual planning; having each member of the team complete a Continue/ Stop/ Start which helps your team members recognize what’s working, what’s not and make room for new ideas; and of course, a review of the Annual plan to see what might need to be tweaked AND if there’s any major successes that should be acknowledged.

3)      Schedule your vacation too! 

When I worked for P&G, we were required to schedule at least two weeks of vacation at the beginning of the year.  This practice helped with capacity planning but it also was a forcing function to ensure people got out of the office and took personal time. Very few people can go full speed ahead without a break.  Something eventually gives.  Your health, your decision making ability, your personal life.  Protect what’s important and take time off.

4)      Re-examine your expectations

Of yourself and others, especially as it comes to time frames for getting things done.  Entrepreneurial types are notoriously optimistic in the short-term regarding what can be accomplished and I often see CEO’s who are disappointed that what they thought was going to take a few months takes six to nine OR even twelve.  At the same time, don’t let lack of accountability in your organization be a roadblock.  Key projects and initiatives should have a project plan (HINT: 90 Day plan) with weekly or biweekly goals to keep things on track.  And document! Your chances of accomplishing goals increases by 200% if they’re written down.

5)      Re-examine your Three Year Plan 

Remember, it’s a 3 Year plan, one quarter at a time. A colleague of mine who produced the 5:00 evening news (way back when in the days before 24 hour news stations), taught me the expression, “structured looseness”.  They needed to be structured because it was live TV but half of the time, a fire or some other news worthy item occurred ten minutes before air time, and they had to be loose about what they covered when the cameras rolled. Thus the term “Structured Looseness” – which I share with all of our clients so that they don’t get too wedded to their plans, and remain “loose” for what may happen or evolve – either in the market place or in their own businesses.  Just asking yourself the question, “What’s changed?” can be a very useful exercise for you and your team.

6)      Take time to acknowledge and celebrate Successes

Entrepreneurs can be nothing if not hard-driving – and many of the ones I know have a hard enough time “turning it off” let alone seeing and acknowledging and recognizing what’s been accomplished.  So make sure that you highlight the great stuff that’s happened – behaviors that are in alignment with your Core Values, great acts of Customer Service, Sales or Operational wins and give yourself and your team mates a pat on the back for the effort and hard work.   This is NOT about monetary awards BTW.  People need to hear that they’ve done a good job – and  a pat on the back and a sincere and heartfelt “thank you” goes a long way for most of us.

7)      Don’t neglect your Annual Plan

Make sure you’ve scheduled time for your annual planning process too!  If you need some assistance with any of the above, give us a call OR consider our One Day Planning workshop.  You’ll have the chance to work with your team to determine the right path forward for the coming year and come away with a draft One Page Plan already written down!


And remember what Stephen Covey said, “Don’t neglect what’s Important for what’s merely Urgent.” 


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