Strategic Planning


Strategic PlanningSeasoned Strategic Planning Consulting

Our Associates are experienced strategic planning consultants.  We can help you and your executive team develop an integrated strategic plan that builds clarity and consensus among you on a critical game-plan for the future success of your business.  Just as importantly, our team-based approach to strategic plan development orchestrates the involvement of your key stakeholders in a way that optimizes your chances for successful plan implementation.  And as any executive leader knows, a strategic plan is only as good as your ability to execute it effectively.

Our Proven Approach to Strategic Plan Development & Implementation

Over more than twenty-five years, our seasoned strategic planning consultants have helped many different client executive teams develop comprehensive, reality-based, accountable, action-oriented strategic plans across many varied industries and business situations.  Perhaps you need support for a single-day, strategy offsite to update or revisit an existing plan.  Or, you may require a more comprehensive approach, such as the one described below, in order to develop a completely new plan from scratch.   Either way, our experience and flexibility enable us to design an approach that will suit the operating requirements and constraints of your business.  

“. . . your business focus to Strategic Planning . . . and the advance preparation you demand of yourselves make planning sessions the most productive I have ever experienced in my career.”

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In the case of a business that is developing a strategic plan for the first time or one whose existing plan requires a completely fresh take, the process described here has delivered solidly for many of our clients over many years.  (Please see what our clients say, below.)

The cornerstones of our successful Team-Based Strategic Planning Process are:

  • an open, candid, fact-based assessment of a company’s current and prospective operating environment
  • customized, structured planning Conferences, carefully designed and facilitated by Gagnon Associates consultants, against concrete outcome goals
  • a parallel, “Offline,” Feedback/Input Process, “interleaved” with planning Conferences, that enables representatives of a company’s key stakeholder groups to review and influence in-process planning material, as well as to provide fresh, “front-end” inputs to planning Conference discussions and deliberations.

This approach facilitates broader organizational involvement in the kind of high-level planning that is often the exclusive purview of only senior-most executives.

Since commitment and ownership are always a function of involvement, our Team-Based Strategic Planning Process not only provides a leadership team with the data, setting, process and support they need to achieve alignment among themselves, it also ensures the kind of stakeholder involvement that’s needed to build broader ownership for the final plan and commitment to its ultimate implementation.

Strategic Planning Model

Getting Started:  Strategic Plan Development

The “Strategic Planning Model,” shown here, lays out our most comprehensive Team-Based Strategic Planning Process at a glance.

It begins with:

  • Confidential Executive Interviews of the Planning Team members, conducted by the Gagnon Associates consultant who will be leading the Strategic Planning Process,
  • Preparation of the Environmental Scan, a “snap-shot” of the enterprise’s:
    • macro business environment,
    • industry,
    • major competitors,
    • financial and organizational health.

This contextual material, as well as a thorough SWOTS analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) serves to lay the factual foundation upon which all subsequent planning Conference deliberations are based.

The Strategic Planning Conferences

The Planning Conferences represent the heart of the Team-Based Strategic Planning Process.  A configuration of three, two-day sessions, taking place over as little as three months, has proven suitable for many clients, but, again, our experience enables us to customize this schedule, as required, to suit client needs.

The accompanying “Architecture” depicts the key strategic questions the Planning Team works through in the course of the Conferences and the sequence in which they confront these questions.

Strategic Planning Architecture ChartGagnon Associates consultants play the role of content-neutral moderator/facilitator/trainer/task-master, and catalyst at all Conferences.  This ensures:

  • unbiased management of the content agenda and the deliberative process,
  • the CEO’s interaction as a full participant vs. obligatory “meeting leader”
  • a healthy confrontation of critical, yet sometimes sensitive, issues identified in Executive Interviews and surfaced anonymously and “safely” by the consultant/facilitator,
  • high-productivity sessions based on a proven approach vs. “making it up as you go along.”


“Offline” Organizational Feedback/Input Process

Between the formal Planning Conferences, members of the Planning Team serve as “Task Team” Leaders.  Following a process provided by Gagnon Associates, “Task Team” Leaders meet with representatives from the enterprise’s broader constituencies to:

  • review and prepare feedback on previous Conference draft outputs and outcomes and
  • provide input to the strategic questions to be addressed in subsequent Conferences.

“Task Team” Leaders prepare this “Offline” material for presentation and discussion at the Planning Conferences, thus ensuring substantive stakeholder input to the Strategic Planning Process.

This in-process involvement before a strategic plan is final builds awareness and ownership for the planning process itself and maximizes the chances for broader organizational “buy-in” for the strategic plan that results.  In terms of effective implementation, this approach provides a leadership team with far better chances of gaining traction for new direction than if, as is so often the case, their strategic plan had been “hatched” privately behind closed doors.  In this case, the likelihood of a successful strategic plan implementation is much stronger.

Clients of Our Strategic Planning Process

We have conducted customized applications of our Team-Based Strategic Planning Process for executive leadership from the following for-profit companies:

  • Colgate-Palmolive
  • The First-Brands Corporation
  • FTD
  • Rodale, Inc.
  • Russ Berrie and Company, Inc.
  • The Orvis Company
  • POLO.COM  (a subsidiary of Polo Ralph Lauren)
  • Financo, Inc.
  • AdvaMed
  • Noble International, LTD

In the non-profit arena, we have conducted Strategic Planning engagements for:

  • St. Bonaventure University
  • The Frank Foundation,
  • Gilda’s Club
  • Food Pantries of the Capital District (Albany, NY)
  • Trout Unlimited

“I’d like to focus primarily on the benefits of the Strategic Planning Process to the leadership of the company, that is, to me as CEO and to my leadership team. First, my top-line statement would be that I gained valuable insights that encouraged me to change my style and approach to leading the company.” ... Read the full Testimonial »

“We had just completed a major acquisition in Europe that almost doubled the size of the Company. We were in the beginning of the process of not only combining our businesses – one in North America and the other in Europe – but, since the entire senior management team of the European business stayed on to continue to run the business, we also needed to meld together two very different cultures, while determining how to create value.

"Of importance to me as CEO was the opportunity that the Strategic Planning Process provided for this new, global senior management team to work together and become more comfortable with each other. By the end of our last planning session, each of the executives who participated truly believed they had played an important role in developing our new Strategic Plan and that their voice had been heard and respected.

"In this context, Gagnon Associates’ involvement with Noble was invaluable.” ... Read the full Testimonial »

"The Strategic Planning Process provided clarity and concreteness to our goals, strategies, and timetables. It also created a bond that brought my group together both as a new business as well as a team. Most importantly, your process allowed me to create a real sense of commitment within our group that has helped us survive a volatile business environment. To this day, we still speak the “language” established in that first strategy session over a year ago." ... Read the full Testimonial »

“I . . . want to note that working with Gagnon Associates has been a real pleasure. Your business focus to Strategic Planning, your skills in facilitation and the advance preparation you demand of yourselves make planning sessions the most productive I have ever experienced in my career.” ... Read the full Testimonial »

As you know, I’ve been running Trout Unlimited for 12 years, a period of time that has included the development of three strategic plans. Yet I can say I have never had a better sense that senior management and volunteer leaders were more committed or engaged. This time around, it’s so strong it’s almost palpable. ... Read the full Testimonial »

Case Study: Strategic Plan Development & Implementation

THE COMPANY: America’s oldest direct-mail catalogue marketing company.
THE SITUATION: After years of enviable growth, the company encounters a business down turn and withstands the first layoffs in its history. Impact on company morale is significant, and though the imperative to resolve on a future course is clear, ... Read the full Case Study »