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Strategic Planning Consultants & Business Strategy Consulting Firm, in Philadelphia, PA

"Healthy organizations put 3 times more on the bottom line than unhealthy organizations." - McKinsey Quarterly, April 2014

Our Strategic Planning Retreats Yield Clarity, Alignment, Momentum, and an Actionable Strategic Plan.

Your team will leave knowing your top 5 to 10 initiatives and have a committed, prioritized focus for overcoming obstacles & accelerating growth, or we pay the strategy consultants’ bill and you keep all the diagnostic reports, business insights, and draft strategy map. With decades of experience, including “C” level leadership competence, in a wide range of businesses, our strategic growth consultants have helped our clients build, buy, and sell companies whose combined worth is in the trillions.

Create alignment and a solid growth strategy. Business Strategy Consultants

Imagine what's possible when you and your team create the same level of strategic clarity, commitment and cohesion that has skyrocketed the world's most successful companies.

A strategic and agile approach to management is more important now, than ever before.

Our world is being remade by disruptive technologies, customer demands, and cultural transformations affecting workforce availability, compensation, and expectations. The fact that proven methods for business momentum are no longer reliable and what worked yesterday may never work the same way again, is impacting businesses everywhere. A recent Harvard Business Review Survey (2013) found that 81% of CEOs recognize they have to change their plans during execution, but an even smaller percentage of leaders have faith in their team to successfully adapt and respond successfully to the change in plans.

The average leadership team is misaligned and has disparate views of the strategic priorities. Even with verbal agreement on stated goals, the typical team has incongruent views about the impact of the company’s challenges or the value of their strengths, not to mention various beliefs about the merit of building vs. protecting, or their non-negotiable rules, for example. Our strategic planning framework transforms switchback growth plans into a roadmap of the most aligned, shortest distance between one stage of growth and the next.

What if your team could double or triple triple your results - this year?

We are a strategic planning firm that will get your team focused, super-charged and aligned on what matters.

Our Strategic Planning Retreats are Facilitated by Expert Business Strategy Consultants and Certified Business Growth Curve Specialists

Our corporate retreats help your team create an actionable strategic plan to be used for daily decision-making. Managing company growth is challenging. Our consultants facilitate an unambiguous strategic plan that enables you and your team to:

Stages of growth matrix - click to view
  • implement your strategy
  • align the efforts of your workforce
  • reinforce the most befitting culture for the organization
  • share management's plan for where the company is going
  • define long term and short term goals (and obstacles)
  • set clear, measurable milestones that mark progress
  • develop strategies for staff accountability and more

In a recent strategic planning retreat with a Stage 6 company, we had 12 leaders who, according to their own words, were “astounded” and “at a loss for words” by the experience. They gained a clear understanding of what the company needed to prioritize for the next six to 12 months, which would clear the way for the next 3 years. There was immediate alignment behind their top five challenges:

  1. Hiring quality staff
  2. Not able to quickly get systems in place
  3. Staff/leadership communication gap
  4. Insufficient capital to grow
  5. Need for better staff buy-in

Our facilitated discussion around these challenges resulted in an acute awareness that their top problems were technically leftover issues from previous stages of growth. Simply put some members of the leadership team were eager to move on to more innovative growth endeavors, while the rest of the team was convinced that building out a new product line could only be successful, if they had cleared the way by resolving serious problems. Through a heated, but productive debate the team came together on a strategy and a tactical plan.

The magic in our strategic planning process happens when productive conflict and deliberate conversations result in satisfying both the progressive innovators on the team and the more conservative protectors. Successful leadership teams and companies recognize there’s an important ratio to maintain of what we call “builders” and “protectors.” An overemphasis on either side and the company’s stability and sustainability suffers.

Leadership team alignment is a keystone for successful business growth. Achieving alignment requires more than nodding heads around a round table. By working with an experienced facilitator, alignment, clarity, commitment and accountability become one of the most valuable by-products of our strategy planning sessions.

Most organizations have an awareness of the issues they, as a team, have been tolerating. However, the human factor often obscures the solution, and thus toleration becomes the norm. For example, employee turnover, low staff morale, customer migration, or diminishing profits become the self-fulfilling manifestation of a general, “that’s just the price we have to pay in our business” belief.

Once the leadership team gained alignment around the top priorities, the energy of the room was palatable. They started working feverishly on identifying their top six initiatives:

  1. Create a communication plan to articulate the need for changes, nurture staff buy-in, and the timeline for driving the message home through repetition
  2. Identify key metrics for all departments that tell us when we are meeting or exceeding standards
  3. Review roles and responsibilities and include expected outcomes
  4. Overhaul profit model
  5. Improve financial health of the organization through improved financial controls
  6. Communicate, train and tweak project management template

What’s cool is that our strategic planning process gets to the critical initiatives quickly. Groups that go through our strategy planning sessions come out of the retreat energized and eager to make things happen.

For this business, the CEO was initially shocked by the assessment and aggregate report (which revealed troubling disconnects). However, by the end of the retreat, he was relieved and pleased with the results. In addition to a well-formed strategic focus and plan, he also gained clarity about his own blind spots, such as his team’s perspective on the priorities.

He said, “While the outcome was different than what I expected, I'm grateful that my plan was back-burnered for the time being. I needed this wake-up call. I had overestimated the team’s buy-in to our larger expansion goals. We have some clean-up work to do first. Knowing we will be more likely to succeed, now with a more unified approach, is a relief. Our expansion goals are still on the horizon, we just have to take care of first things first.”

As experienced strategic planning consultants, we have seen time and again how our strategic planning service and growth planning framework benefits our clients

A few of the outcomes and benefits from our consulting:

  1. Improve the way the team communicates which in turn improves circulation amongst employees.
  2. Engage staff and enable them to help the company succeed by cultivating a common language of growth.
  3. Clarify the top areas of focus and what must be improved, in what order, to align the team around common goals and objectives.
  4. Through trusted research, leaders eliminate the guesswork and better manage the company's growth strategy.
  5. Making unknowns about your business disappear and eliminating the fear of growing a business Rewrites the sentence in a professional tone: Ensuring a fear-free experience and clearing up any unknowns while providing solutions for specific growth issues.
  6. Provides a well-reasoned roadmap for optimal performance
  7. Help improve a leader's ability to address conflict and reduce tension that leads to unproductive behaviors.
  8. Clarify the team's top 5 most critical challenges with a focus on a specific stage of growth to gain traction quickly.
  9. Benchmark areas of greatest opportunity and challenge via a structured analytical process.
  10. Reduce time to market and sales cycles.
  11. Identify and support employees' core values to proactively address the tendency of 71% of employees to become disengaged within six months.
  12. Reveal the impact of the company's caution vs. confidence ratio and juxtapose that against the research to determine when risk vs. vigilance is the right course of action for growth.
  13. Lead the dialogue across three categories: People, Profit/Revenue, or Process, which makes communication clearer and enables a faster approach to assessing problems and solutions.
  1. Improve "critical thinking" skills in a safe setting and improve decision quality across the management team.
  2. Pull back the covers to reveal the truth underneath each challenge thereby improving objectivity and the best prioritization of initiatives.
  3. Identify when the company is in a "flood zone" or a "wind tunnel" to ensure the team knows when to improve process first vs. people or revenue issues.
  4. Ameliorate customer satisfaction and client retention by zeroing in on the most important activities that matter most, right now.
  5. Encourage more productive conflict skills, employee satisfaction and productivity.
  6. Finally put to bed past business issues, with confidence and team buy-in.
  7. Increase performance by creating a bias for action around the right priorities, in most critical order.
  8. Areas of contraction are clarified, roadblocks are revealed, and impediments to growth are addressed, enabling the team to systematically row in unison towards greater growth and success.
  9. Examine the organizational strengths via a detailed analysis, then collaboratively create an aligned strategic approach for unlocking the revenue and productivity streams that will significantly impact the company's goals.
  10. Uncover real issues using self-diagnosis, performance assessments to gain a new perspective based on factual information.
  11. Establish a clear vision for improvement that is fundamental to your organizational success. A graphical roadmap is produced that details the plan to achieve results, outlines where the company wants to be and how it intends to get there.
  12. Once the plans and initiatives have been identified and agreed upon, we aggregate them into a timeline with key performance / target indicators and confirm commitments.

About Our Business Strategy Consultants and Strategic Business Planning Consultants

Since 2004, TurnKey Coaching and Development Solutions has had the privilege of serving more than 1000 clients, including Fortune 100 companies, mid-market enterprises and start-ups poised for fast growth. We specialize in facilitating effective, productive leadership retreats that produce executable strategic plans. We are a management consulting company with a pragmatic and talented team of experienced consultants.

Leveraging business growth research from the most successful companies, we facilitate retreats that give your team the space, time, and proven framework to process through the options and land on an aligned plan to drive results. With more than 30 years of business consulting and senior leader experience, our team of experts make sure your investment is worth every penny and more.

A few of our clients include:

Microsoft Licensing, Corelogic, Pfizer, Aim Aerospace, HUBER+SUHNER, US Army Corps of Engineers, Goodwill Industries, Universal Music Group, Rolls-Royce, N.A., Culinary Institute of America

There are several advantages that we offer our clients.

Our clients include both small to medium-sized companies and large enterprises, including privately-held, public, and family-owned companies. We have experience in many industries, including manufacturing, retail, healthcare, technology, construction, transport, financial services, and more. Our consulting work in diverse and successful businesses gives your team the opportunity to learn from our experience.

Our clients say, “This was the workshop I've ever experienced!” We welcome the chance to discuss your goals and see if we are a good fit.

While our program is not for all companies, those that we work with are assured satisfaction - or we refund their money. Call us today for a no-obligation consultation: 281-469-4244

Senior executives realize the importance of strategy implementation, but a majority acknowledge that their companies fall short.
88% of survey respondents say executing strategic initiatives successfully is “essential” for their organizations’ competitiveness over the next three years. Yet 61% of respondents confess that their firms often struggle to bridge the gap between strategy formulation and its day-to-day implementation.
Moreover, in the last three years, an average of just 56% of strategic initiatives have been successful.
Such poor implementation means that a company’s stated strategy fails to shape what happens in practice: only a small minority of respondents say that their business model is extremely well aligned with strategy.
Not surprisingly, companies that are poorly aligned with strategy also report weaker financial results than their peers.
- Research by The Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by the Project Management Institute (Survey, March 2013 of 587 senior executives - 25% of companies surveyed had $10 billion+ and 58% had $1 billion+ in annual revenue.)

Most businesses fail when there are too many priorities, absent or insufficient KPIs, and too little strategic analysis

Having a meaningful strategic plan is essential for every serious business enterprise. Unfortunately, most fall short; triggering a series of dominos including poor accountability, execution, frustration and missed opportunities.

Our strategic development and planning services help leaders formulate strategic plans that are clear, data-driven, aligned, and led by an organization's vision and mission. When your team is all on the same page…. rowing in the same direction and engaging in constructive discourse… now, that's a powerful force for growth.

Potential problems your Senior Leadership Team's Online Strategic Assessment may uncover:

  • Anticipating Problems
  • Business/Profit Design
  • Cash Flow
  • Chaotic Periods
  • Communication Gap
  • Cost of Lost Expertise
  • Customer Migration
  • Employee Turnover
  • Expanding Sales
  • Flexible Planning
  • Growth Plans
  • Hiring Quality Staff
  • Inadequate Profits
  • Limited Capital
  • Market Change
  • Marketing Position
  • New Product Development
  • New Staff Orientation
  • Problem Diagnosis
  • Project Management
  • Resistant to Change
  • Staff Buy In
  • Staff Morale
  • Staff Satisfaction
  • Staff Training
  • Systems Development

Typically, strategic management consultants, at this level, charge anywhere from $100K and up for the kind of prepared growth strategy your team will receive from our program (at a fraction of the cost).

Fortunately, there's a proven, more effective and cost-efficient way.

With our data-driven, strategic alignment program and strategic retreat services, you can create alignment, clarity, buy-in, and a vetted action plan within the session.

With our innovative strategic facilitation, your team's outcomes include:

  • Clarity. A leadership team that understands your company's real opportunities and a growth strategy they can get behind.
  • Confidence. Through tough conversations and facilitated discussions, your team builds trust, confidence, and cooperation around the big problems and what to do about them
  • Collaboration. Each leader on your team buys into the elimination of silos and the cohesive behaviors required for more effective collaboration
  • Identify the hidden agents that are creating obstacles to growthIdentify the top five challenges (of 27) that your team considers to be the biggest problems they face, right now
  • Improve your team's ability to diagnose problems, gain consensus and the authentic commitment required for rapid change and growth.

Strategic Planning Consultants & Business Strategy Consulting Firm

Contact us today to learn more about how our business growth consultants can support your strategic planning retreat and company goals.

Call 281-469-4244 or email SOGX @ TurnKeyCoachingSolutions (dot) com

Our Strategic Business Planning Retreats facilitate a common language for growth and an organized strategy for unified strategic management

But don't just take our word for it. Take a look at what clients are saying:

“As a senior executive in a fast-growing company that is currently at Stage 5 in the 7 Stages of Growth, I can tell you that the X-ray/27 challenges & Strengths / builder / protector / stages of growth process have been more valuable to our company than words could ever express. It has helped the leadership team understand, and then navigate the stages of growth based on an accurate and brutally honest snapshot and assessment of our company at scheduled and timely intervals. Having experienced it firsthand, I can tell you that it helped us make better decisions, helped us lead with confidence, see what issues and challenges we needed to address, and ultimately help us set the right priorities, strategies and plans in place - and correct them when needed. Lastly, these tools enabled every employee in the company to be in alignment on all aspects of our business and specifically critical Initiatives. This alignment made it easy to communicate clearly and effectively to the entire organization daily, weekly, monthly and annually that drove growth while building a solid unwavering culture that drove our success.

I can’t tell you how many times this process gave us a calm assurance that we were “doing the right things” because we could see from the x-rays and data what we were experiencing and being challenged with - was actually exactly what our company should be experiencing at that moment in our growth curve. And we could see what we needed to change or address at that exact stage of growth to continue up the growth curve.

I am thankful that our consultants and leadership team bought into and supported investing in these tools, assessments, and the process. We are leading our industry and continuing to achieve almost all of our goals thanks to these assessments and the process that surrounds them.”

- T. Sumney, CIO, Real Estate Services Company


“[The program] helped me as a leader in my company gain an understanding of the effect of growth on our staff. Understanding that focus and that my leadership style needs to change as the company grows was a huge wake-up call for me."

-- L. Franklin, CEO, Service Based Company, Boise

"I’ve owned businesses for 50 years and currently employ more than 1000 employees and I had no idea that a strategist, trained in this process, could help us in this way.

Frankly, our first experience with Anisa Aven and the Stages of Growth X-Ray program was like a dream come true for me. The team's revelations were just incredible to hear, for instance, “One of the best things we have ever done as a team,” and "I feel energized and hopeful now!" I'm very excited about our direction and we'll be doing more of these!"

- T. Brundage. Founder and CEO, Multiple holdings in the financial services, storage facilities, and real estate management industries

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“The biggest "aha" for me, and there were a number of them, was the moment I realized that my team put "sufficient cash flow for growth" at the bottom of our problems.

I have worked with this team for 10+ years, and realized at that moment that our priorities were not in sync and our perspective on what's most important was totally out of whack! This shifted everything about how I approach our executive team updates, meetings, and execution strategy now.

I am very grateful for TurnKey Coaching & Development Solution's guidance and help. We are on the right track now.”

-- T.M., EVP Manufacturing Services, Global Manufacturing company


“Prior to being exposed to the Stages of Growth, some of our companies were like hamsters running in circles with limited forward motion frantically focused on distractions and non-critical issues.

Our most successful portfolio companies are now implementing the tools and processes that will lead to growth and improved profitability. I recommend the team at TurnKey and the stages of growth to any business entity."

-- J.Parks, Angel Investor and General Manager VC

Maybe even after reading what clients think, you're still on the fence.

That's OK. We understand.

Are you thinking about an internally facilitated business strategy meeting?

It can be quite appealing to have a senior leader or business unit leader facilitate the strategic planning meeting. He or she is intimately familiar with the organization's goals, strengths, and challenges and the price tag of "no added cost" is utterly attractive. However, there's ample research that has proven that an external expert with experience facilitating strategic management retreats is far more likely to have the ability to foster alternative opinions, encourage authentic discourse, navigate the conflict of passionate but varying perspectives, and produce an aligned strategically focused action plan that the full team can get behind.

We appreciate that there's a lot to consider when searching for the right consultant amongst the slew of strategic consulting firms.

What we have found is that companies that fail to implement a strategic approach to their management style continue:

  • focusing on the 80% of activities that produce 20% of the results, instead of the 20% of actions that produce 80% of the results.
  • struggling to stay ahead of the ever-changing, VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) environment..
  • worrying about whether or not the team is really in agreement and clear this time, or just nodding because they'd prefer to avoid conflict.
  • wondering whether the execution strategy inspires the discipline to get the job done.
  • settling for just struggling for accelerating growth, engaged employees, and greater stability

Is it time to also evaluate the aggregate impact of the ongoing deficiencies that impede the fulfillment of your long-term vision?

Why You Need to Hire an Accomplished Consultant with a Proven Strategic Planning Framework

In short order, your management team could use our data-driven, strategic alignment program and...

  • Establish a direct correlation between company success (profits), employee engagement and leadership competency
  • Foster team certainty that impacts your customer relationships and inspires the improved quality of your efforts, products, and services
  • Raise awareness of the misalignment on the team and enable the team to execute in a more focused, aligned full-force manner
  • Put a name to the problems - if your team can name it, they can solve it
  • Create bigger, faster results that can turn the vision into reality


Our program requires an intensive effort from our strategy consultants and commitment from your leadership team.
What we do is not for everyone, but for those leadership teams who are fully engaged, passionate, and eager for sustainable growth and improvement.

This is why we ask potential clients to schedule a complimentary consultation. Let's see if what we do and who you are is a good fit.

Strategy Consulting Firm | Strategic Planning Consultants | Strategic Planning Retreats

CALL 281-469-4244 or fill in this form to contact us:


If we are a good match, we launch with a two-step process that safeguards your investment and our reputation before the actual retreat. This includes:

1) A research-backed, quantitative strategic assessment and report
2) CEO/Division Head Debrief on the results

This provides us both with a "pilot" commitment to ensure the best possible results and confirm each other's understanding of and commitment to the goals. The outcome includes a stage of growth X-ray assessment, a comprehensive report, a stakeholder debrief, and a cursory action plan.
If at the conclusion of this first phase, you are not 100% convinced that our framework is the best fit for your team, we walk away, and you keep the reports.
Call us today to schedule your complimentary consultation and secure your spot for a strategic assessment: 281-469-4244 or email: SOGX at TurnKeyCoachingSolutions (dot) com

We are proud of our data-driven Strategic Planning Framework which enables business leaders to get ahead of issues, predict how growth will impact the business and understand what must be done, in what order to grow the business - fast.

James Fischer the 7 Stages of Growth graphic

Known as the Stages of Growth Enterprise Development Model*, this highly-effective service has been successfully utilized by thousands of successful organizations worldwide. A research-backed program, developed by James Fischer, founder of the Origin Institute, this Strategic Management Assessment & Growth Strategy Model is based on a six-year study of entrepreneurial companies including interviews with over 650 CEOs.

The research enables our strategic planners and business strategy consultants to understand and decipher the patterns, behaviors, and characteristics of growth or failure in entrepreneurial enterprises and business units. Your team's perspective on your company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (this is no ordinary SWOT analysis) is then compared to the most successful organizations for a unique perspective on how to achieve your business growth goals.

Our framework provides in-depth methodology for effective strategic analysis, including expert facilitation, team assessment, and facilitated alignment.

You will also learn the different stages of development and the challenges you'll encounter. Before your corporate strategic planning retreat concludes, your team will identify the key steps to achieving your business growth objectives.

A few components of the framework include the rules that govern business growth, the hidden agents to be prepared to overcome, and the 27 challenges every business will face and when.

The Rules: The research uncovered unique “rules” that govern the stages of business growth:

  • Movement from one stage to another begins as soon as you land in any stage of growth
  • What you don’t get done in a specific stage does not go away
  • Time will make a difference
  • If you aren’t growing, you’re dying

The warnings: there are invisible factors that will consistently derail your growth plans, unless they are identified and rectified. We call these hidden agents that have their own roadmap:

  • Factors that lie beneath the surface and create obstacles to growth
  • Surface issues look much different than what it really is
  • Clarity and ability to address the real issues
  • Become constrictors if real issues aren’t addressed

Prioritized Challenges: The research uncovered 27 primary challenges that every business unit, company or non-profit organization will face. When we identify your team's primary challenges it:

  • Forces the team to put words to their top 5 critical issues
  • Provides an opportunity to see how the leadership team defines the top challenges
  • Forces discussion that moves the team toward alignment of the goals and solutions

A little more about what the research uncovered about each stage of business growth:

Stage 1
Start Up: 1 – 10 Employees

What does a Stage 1 company look like?

A Stage 1 company has 1-10 employees, and at this stage of growth, it's all about survival.
A Stage 1 company is CEO-centric — meaning the CEO is likely the ‘specialist’ who has created a product or service and is now getting his/her idea to take shape. It's the energy, passion and vision of the CEO that is the driving force behind the company's success today. The CEO also makes all the decisions and brings in all the sales. Therefore, 50% of the CEO's time should be spent as the technician, or the specialist, while only 10% of his/her time should be spent as a manager. The other 40% of the leader's time should be in creating and fine-tuning the vision of the company.

Stage 2
Ramp Up: 11 – 19 Employees

What does a Stage 2 company look like?

A Stage 2 company has 11 – 19 employees. CEOs of Stage 2 companies are still the center-of-the-universe in their business or division. They need to remain nimble and hyper-focused on critical analysis before reacting to the increases in activity and workload, CEOs/leaders can ask themselves these questions:

  • Am I still focused on driving profits and revenue and is my team?
  • Does my team understand how to distinguish the difference between busy-work and bottomline impact priorities?
  • Where in the business am I the cog in the wheel?
  • Am I delegating, empowering, and mentoring others to do their best?
  • Can I trust them to completely replace me? And, if not, what am I willing to do now to create a capable team that doesn't need me?
  • How regularly do I pay attention to our key indicators of success? Can I recite our KPI's by heart?

At this point, leverage your strategic planning retreat to ensure you have clarity about your core competencies. Profits come from planning and managing the financial side of your business (or division). What exactly is your revenue group(s) or if you are a cost-center division, how and when will you save or make the company money?

Stage 2 companies have double the trouble and must pay attention to the same priorities as a stage 1 company (cash flow, adequate profits for growth,and expanding sales) while also addressing the need for quality, competent staff.

Stage 3
Delegation: 20 – 34 Employees

What does a Stage 3 company look like?

A Stage 3 company has 20-34 employees. At this stage of growth, it's typical to experience a workforce revolt, as the company undergoes destabilization and chaos caused by more more opportunities, work, and revenue but without the processes in place to manage the workload or the history to tackle problems with confidence.

It's essential to get the company focused on the right path for improving performance, while fostering staff buy-in. The team has to develop patience, agility, resilience and a fondness of ambiguity, as things will need to change quickly during this stage of growth. It's also important that the CEO/leader learns to be facilitative and supportive, as opposed to dominant now. A predictor of future success is whether the CEO/leader can let go of the reigns now and train, mentor, and empower his/her team to be their best.
The top challenges of a stage 3 company include staff buy-in, leadership/staff gap, weak profit design, employees resistant to change, and the core values of the organization being unclear.

Stage 4
Professional: 35 – 57 Employees

What does a Stage 4 company look like?

Stage 4 is all about internal focus and internal processes, whereas Stage 3 was all about delegation and the CEO letting go. The necessity of that lesson will become painfully clear if the leader heads into Stage 4 still micromanaging — he/she has to let go.

This stage is all about professionalizing your company/division. The first aspect is building an effective team of individuals that can work together, as opposed to independently functioning individuals/groups. Unfortunately, creating this team might mean that you need to let some personnel go, however it's also a time when you have to pay attention and prevent unwanted involuntary employee turnover.

Growing a company this far means you know how to make good decisions and execute on them. You are aware of your competitors, the economic climate, short-term and long-term opportunities. You know how to make plans and get things done. You take time to focus on the details but are always prepared and can spring into action when needed. However, It's now time to move from running a company and to directing one. This is never an easy thing to do, especially for a founder or a leader used to having to be in the driver's seat. While it may seem like the top priority at this stage is people or profits, it's actually a critical time to focus on ensuring efficient and effective processes first.

Stage 5
Integration: 58 – 95 Employees

What does a Stage 5 company look like?

With a team of 58-95 employees, the company is growing rapidly. Revenues and profits are the primary focus - as the organization's girth requires a reliable, growing and flowing stream. By now, processes should be shored up and thus, the process is the last priority (profit then people then process). However, if process was back-burnered in stage four, leader beware - the leaky bucket will drain your margins and burnout your people.

This stage of growth for a company, a non-profit, or a division is all about integration. Focusing on integrating your processes with your teams can create exponential opportunities. This is often the first time a company begins to think in terms of departmental budgets, and for good reason. Your team has to be empowered to think critically and analyze options against the numbers. Your managers will need a solid strategic plan, a well-considered budget, and OKRs (objectives and key results) to measure every action against to move to the next level.

Now is the time to focus on efficiencies at scale. Leaders that fail to understand the importance of integration at this stage will suffer losses as the complexity and size of the organization dictates consolidation.

Stage 6
Strategic: 96 – 160 Employees

What does a flourishing Stage 6 company look like?

There's a rhythm now and a deliberate cadence and order to the company's success. Leadership styles and cultural norms are well established, processes are in place, and the leadership team can go fishing, at least a little more often. If integration of processes and managerial empowerment has solidified, then your team leads have the authority, resources, and roadmap for keeping the machine whirling. Is it time to relax or be more strategic?
This stage is called strategic because it's time to revisit your business design. Check and recheck the profit model, your plan for innovation, the market and competitors. Stage six warrants celebration but divisions/organizations need to be wary of becoming complacent or overly confident in its "if it's not broken, don't fix it" mentality. If you know where the banana peels lie, you're less likely to slip. Make a concerted effort to forecast how disruptive technology, automation, more agile competitors, consumer buying habits, governmental regulations, and other factors may impact your organization. Make this a part of your multi-year strategic planning process and strategic considerations.

A few of the top challenges a stage six organization will need to pay attention to include:
- keeping your eye on growing profits and what the competitors are up to
- a robust new staff orientation will prevent churn

Talent development, career pathing, and succession planning foster a "people first" culture which is important at this stage for not only engagement and productivity but to lower voluntary turnover.
Remember the bigger you get the more often and in more ways you'll need to communicate the mission, vision, and progress.

Quick tip: Share the company/division's goals, successes and setbacks at least weekly with all employees.

Stage 7
Visionary: 161+ Employees

What does a Stage 7 company look like?
A CEO's challenge in Stage 7 is all about transitioning into a large organization without losing what made it such a successful entrepreneurial business. Management's efforts to professionalize the company often crush the entrepreneurial spirit that is so necessary in order to not to be left behind by newer entrepreneurial firms. A Stage 7 business, non-profit, or organizational unit has greater than 161 employees. Size creates complexity and layers of bureaucracy that can quickly impede performance and growth. Stage 7, called the visionary stage, is a very different world than what's been encountered in the first six stages.

Key success factors include leadership coaching and conflict competency, business acumen, critical analysis, and ability to not only manage change but inspire others to see change and innovation as a reason for choosing to work within your organization. Watch for profit erosion, as even a couple of points may mean there's disengagement in the ranks, waste, inefficiencies, etc. that need to be solved via crowdsourcing your frontline contributors, which will bolster their self-esteem and belief that they matter and are making a contribution to something bigger.

Effective leaders at this stage spend 75% of their time coaching, mentoring, and driving the vision of the organization, 20% of their time managing, and only 5% of their time being the specialist.
Beware of unresolved problems from previous stages which can be like barnacles, teaming up with with low-morale, turnover, or poorly trained managers to cause drag and burn up your people and profits.

To learn more and determine if our process is right for your goals, call today: 281-469-4244 or email us directly at SOGX (at) TurnKeyCoachingSolutions (dot) com. We look forward to learning more about your organization!

How to Evaluate Strategy Consulting Firms and Select the Right Strategic Planning Consultant for your Corporate Retreat

Evaluating strategy consulting firms is not an easy task. You want to find one that has depth in growth consulting, strategic management and corporate retreat facilitation.
You want strategic planning consultants that have mastered the art of team facilitation and productive conflict, and be able to facilitate realistic and achievable goals. Notice, we used the word “facilitate” services as opposed to provide.
Some strategy consulting firms, including those in the “big five”, use formulas, recent MBA graduates, and software-driven strategy templates to churn out nicely formatted, official plans on paper, that simply fail to inspire alignment or ignite the passion of your team.
If you had to choose, a team inspired will get more done without a plan, than a plan without a fired-up, aligned leadership team. Once you have found potential candidates, make sure they have what you need based on the strategy consultant’s character, background in working with comparably sized companies and again, his or her experience in facilitating team alignment.

Strategic Planning Retreat | Strategy Consulting Services FAQ

What does a strategic management consulting firm do?

Strategic management consulting firms provide a variety of services to organizations. These services include strategic planning, leadership development, organizational design and restructuring, and change management.

What is the difference between Strategic Management Consulting and HR Strategy Consulting?

Strategic Management Consulting is the application of knowledge, skills and experience to meet an organization's long-term business objectives. HR Strategy Consulting is the application of knowledge, skills and experience that may be used to meet an organization's short-term business objectives.

How do strategic planning retreats work?

A qualified strategic planning expert facilitator leads the executive (or business unit management) team in a facilitated, prioritized review of the company’s top priorities, challenges, strengths, goals, and opportunities. However, an effective strategic planning retreat produces so much more than a traditional SWOT discussion, including clarity, alignment, and a prioritized plan of attack.

To encourage engagement and establish a safe space, set up the room in such a way as to encourage interaction, creativity, and authentic communication. The leadership team must be able to see the other team member’s faces and thus address disconnection, disinterest, and discord in the moment. For the outcome to be meaningful, dissent must be encouraged and productive conflict guidelines are a key ingredient for success. The space should be big and comfortable enough to allow everyone to participate in the group discussion and brainstorming without feeling intimidated. There’s also something important about making sure that leaders can move away from intimidating energy and a big room grants permission for some movement, as needed, to dissipate the discomfort.

Our proven strategic planning process launches with a data-driven, research-backed analysis of your leadership team’s perspective regarding the company’s gate of focus, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, builder/protector ratio, threats, priorities, blind spots, organizational health, employee satisfaction, and more. As an experienced strategic planning company, we then compare the aggregate data to the research from more than 650 successful companies at similar stages of growth to reveal the issues most likely to need attention now. The outcome enables a focused, productive dialogue that is facilitated to encourage constructive dissent and ultimately clear priorities and an aligned leadership team.

What IS the strategic planning process?

Strategic planning is one of the most powerful ways of solving problems creatively while charting a course to achieve ambitious goals.
Strategic thinking allows leadership teams to view scenarios from a different perspective which increases the odds of identifying alternative solutions to business growth challenges.

A common misconception is that strategic planning is limited to large enterprises. However, business growth planning is widely applicable for any company, organization (for profit, non-profit, government organization) or business unit including large and mid-market enterprises and small teams intent on accomplishing a bigger goal. Effective Strategic planning focuses on long term vision and big picture thinking, but cannot ignore the importance of resolving current business processes, people, and profit challenges.

How do you plan a strategic planning retreat?

First, make sure you have a clear goal for the retreat, gather and visually organize important organizational data (the financials, employee engagement reports, past goals, unsuccessful endeavors, employee performance reports, KPIs and OKRs, industry changes, etc.) and prepare the right people for the strategic planning process.

In addition to a solid SWOT-analysis for each department and person, identify the top 10 challenges via leadership team input. Optimally, this will also include comparing where your company is to what the research says successful organizations do at similar stages of growth.

It’s important to secure a large enough space for comfortable movement and at least two-days on the team’s calendar. While some organizations think they can accomplish a strategic plan in less time, they do so at the expense of team alignment - which in most cases is more important than the documented plan.

Be sure to identify and communicate the rules of engagement, including how to engage in constructive criticism, productive conflict, and the individual participation expectations. Large post-it notes, whiteboards, and plenty of wall space will help the team to capture and document the plans and record all of the team's ideas. Tip: This is an essential part of the creative process, so don't skimp!

What are the steps in the strategic planning process?

A qualified strategic planning expert facilitator leads the executive (or business unit management) team in a facilitated, prioritized review of the company’s top priorities, challenges, strengths, goals, and opportunities. However, an effective strategic planning retreat produces so much more than a traditional SWOT discussion, including clarity, alignment, and a prioritized plan of attack.

To encourage engagement and establish a safe space, set up the room in such a way as to encourage interaction, creativity, and authentic communication. The leadership team must be able to see the other team member’s faces and thus address disconnection, disinterest, and discord in the moment. For the outcome to be meaningful, dissent must be encouraged and productive conflict guidelines are a key ingredient for success. The space should be big and comfortable enough to allow everyone to participate in the group discussion and brainstorming without feeling intimidated. There’s also something important about making sure that leaders can move away from intimidating energy and a big room grants permission for some movement, as needed, to dissipate the discomfort.

Our proven strategic planning process launches with a data-driven, research-backed analysis of your leadership team’s perspective regarding the company’s gate of focus, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, builder/protector ratio, threats, priorities, blind spots, organizational health, employee satisfaction, and more. As an experienced strategic planning company, we then compare the aggregate data to the research from more than 650 successful companies at similar stages of growth to reveal the issues most likely to need attention now. The outcome enables a focused, productive dialogue that is facilitated to encourage constructive dissent and ultimately clear priorities and an aligned leadership team.

How do you facilitate a strategic retreat?
How do you facilitate a strategic business planning meeting?

Prior to the strategic planning retreat, communicate the expectations, logistics, objectives, and pre-work to the leadership team or other participants.

To encourage optimal engagement, charge each leader with delivering three to five goals or challenges to overcome for their division in each of the three primary gates of focus - people, process, and profits. If the unit is a cost center and not a profit center, then the goals/challenges would be about cost-savings and/or efficiency improvements.

While you want your team to consider and evaluate their progress towards their goals, an effective strategic retreat will be an utter failure if it’s just another “how are things going” meeting.

The agenda must be solidly focused on:

  • the data - where we are as a company
  • the goals - where we want to be
  • the actions - what it’s going to take to get there in the areas of people, profit, and process
  • the derailers - what will prevent us from being successful
  • the blind spots - what are we not prepared for or unwilling to address
  • the competencies - what skills, knowledge, abilities do we need to accomplish the goals
  • the metrics - what are the success measures

Additional tips for managing strong personalities and facilitating an effective strategic retreat: Team alignment is essential but difficult to facilitate. Your team will need to have the ability to engage in healthy, productive conflict to ensure a unified, cohesive team approach for driving results together. Strategic retreats can be hard to set up and run, particularly if you have type A personalities that all think they are correct, or worse have a compelling need to be right at all cost. Establish and communicate the rules of collaborative engagement in advance. Then, adhere to the rules of civil, constructive discourse during the retreat and empower each participant to hold their peers accountable to the rules. Otherwise, you'll end up in a conference room with half the team yelling at each other, and the other half withdrawn in silence, plotting how they will ignore the plans and do what they think is best.

It’s essential to a successful strategic retreat to make sure that everyone involved is dedicated to the success of the business and not to personal gain or prestige.
The stronger the team and the more complex the business, the more likely an external, expert facilitator will be a worthwhile investment.

Which businesses need strategic planning?

Every company needs a strategic plan, if profitability and growth are important. However, the strategic planning process can vary greatly depending upon the size, industry, team, and complexity of your business.

At a bare minimum, your strategic plan must be compelling, well-considered, and most importantly align with your mission, vision, values, and guiding principles. If your company does not have a written mission, vision, values, or guiding principles - this is a good place to start.

The right strategic plan directs everything the company does and helps your team stay focused on what really matters according to your mission, vision, values, and guiding principles.

What makes strategic planning successful?

A successful strategic planning retreat will produce a well-considered strategic plan that becomes the blueprint for your company’s vision and leadership team’s goals.

A few elements that are critical for a strategic planning retreat to be successful:

  • All possible alternative solutions and challenges are processed
  • Collectively plan how to mitigate risks and avoid costly mistakes
  • Team engagement, full participation and constructive conflict
  • Vocal, forceful leader(s) that try to facilitate a strategic plan without external assistance, often miss the mark; a team is rarely galvanized when buy-in and the importance of counterviews are overlooked
  • The outcome must be based on reality, touch the imagination and stir enthusiasm for execution
  • Establish the data and historical accomplishments and failures in a visually compelling, inarguable presentation. The program will get more done faster, when the company data is well-organized.
  • Measurements: KPIs: Key performance indicators / OKRs: Objectives and Key Results
  • Roles/Responsibilities: Who is responsible for what, by when.

A successful strategic planning retreat excites the creative ability of the leadership team and produces a documented plan to direct the business in a positive and productive way.

What are the elements of a business plan?

A business plan is not one plan but many plans: a marketing plan, an operations plan, a human resources plan, an implementation plan, and a financial plan.

The true measure of a business plan is its ability to show what you want to accomplish and how you plan to accomplish it. A business plan lays out how you will use the resources at your disposal to pursue your objectives. It’s the road map for the business. It covers ideas that will ensure the business performance and profitability, and solutions for overcoming the challenges it will face in pursuit of the company's goals.

A good business plan introduces a company to the world in a written form and provides a roadmap for driving results.

What's the difference between a strategic plan and a business plan?

A strategic plan should probably consist of things that are more important, more fundamental to the organization.

The business plan is designed to guide an investor (entrepreneur, banker, etc) to a specific point in the future, and includes the business case, the company’s finances, capital assets, income and cash flow projections, competitive analysis, marketing and HR requirements, and other general plans.

A strategic plan and the business plan may have some overlap, but the strategic plan includes the immediate goals, tactics, strategies, and OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) required to achieve the goals outlined in the business plan.

The business plan is the bigger picture, like a world globe; while the strategic plan is the roadmap to help your team get from point A to point B.

Where do strategic plans go wrong?

Strategic planning is the process of defining not just where your business is right now, but where it is headed in the future. When done properly, strategic planning can ensure greater business stability, more efficient resource allocation, and a faster path to financial goals.

Oftentimes, the problem with a company's strategic plan is not the plan itself, but the accountability process, employee input, management’s buy-in, and the measured execution of the plan. The problem is that the plan isn't used as a living, breathing, document. Effective execution requires worn edges and tattered corners, cross-outs and rewrites, and constant attention to the measured results in pursuit of the goals.

Finally, while the executives may agree upon a strategy, they often fail to rally those on the ground to inspire action aligned with the strategic plan. Whether this is because of a lack of communication or a failure to properly define and enforce a strategy, it is a surefire way to send your plan down the tubes.

What is the impact when a company is destabilized by chaos?

As a company grows and achieves certain goals, they add more headcount. In doing so, the company introduces complexity to the organization. Additionally, volatile economic environments, more nimble competition, technological advancements (i.e. artificial intelligence, faster processors, alternative energy, etc.), changing consumer habits, government regulations, and climate change are just a few of the external factors that will derail a company’s plans.

As pressure builds, a lack of strategic clarity and vague decision parameters can have a destructive influence on your team’s ability to achieve the goals. On the other hand, when the company makes a concerted effort to systematically revise the strategic plan on a regular basis, and identify the key process, people, and profit parameters that are required for successful movement from one stage of growth to the next, an organization can more effectively navigate business changes.

The research in Dr. James Fischer’s book, Navigating the Growth Curve demonstrates that there are predictable periods of chaos based on a company's stage of growth.

As a seasoned strategic planning company, we help leaders leverage the research to better plan and respond to periods of chaos.

How does a company evaluate if it has a weak business/profit design?

First, evaluate how your business creates value for customers and whether the value creation process is sustainable. If net margin is inconsistent, evaluate how this value is distributed across your organization, your customers, the operating environment, market demand, competitors, regulations, the broader business ecosystem, etc. Where are the financial fissures, and what’s essential and what’s not.

Where many companies falter is failing to keep a sharply tuned eye on the numbers. If the management team is not beholden to a budget or the leadership team doesn't know the margins, and their responsibility to the margin, there’s a business acumen problem to address.

An experienced strategic planning company can help you evaluate your business profit model and devise a plan for success.

We help your team ask the right questions and process through disagreements to ensure your retreat produces alignment, clarity, accountability, and buy-in for your business growth strategy.

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TurnKey Coaching & Development Solutions is an enterprise learning and development, and management consulting firm. We provide both supplemental as well as fully managed LSO services, including:

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TurnKey's local services in the city include, but are not limited to: executive coaching and corporate leadership development, Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team programs, leadership team development, programs for high potentials and emerging leaders, business acumen trainings and business retreats.

How do you make sure that your time is spent on the right activities to take your business to the next level? It's not just about the business plan, but about strategic priorities and team alignment. Our retreats are designed for senior people in your organization to focus on a clear set of priorities in an energizing and highly interactive setting. The process can get intense at times - but well worth the effort!

Call 281-469-4244 or email SOGX @ TurnKeyCoachingSolutions (dot) com to schedule your complimentary consultation today.