Strategic Planning Retreats

How To Find A Strategic Planning Coach

“My Escape-Proof Accountability™ system prevents faulty execution – the single biggest cause of plan failure – thereby ensuring effective implementation of your money-making ideas and safeguarding your planning investment.”

What My Clients Say  |  Need A Facilitator?  |  Hear 3-Min. Radio Interview With Rick

Rick’s planning process is the best I have done, compared with $250 million ZOLL and smaller companies I have run.
The results have been very measurable after the retreat – Bill walks with a quicker step and has used the system for his 11 operations managers with great success. The team is holding each other accountable and is taking on the extra effort to complete as planned. Rick’s accountability is critical to the success of any ‘heavy lifting’ plan which requires significant effort over time and is on top of our ‘day jobs.’ Our most pleasing long-term benefits are accountability, long-range thinking/planning, and broadening the skill sets of our entire team. Rick has the ability to keep the team on track and pull them back to decision point, without hampering creativity… and the relentless effort to drive outcomes that are actionable and keep the entire process on track for time.”

Vane Clayton, CEO | KPA, Denver

What Would It Be Worth To You To Have These 5 Driving Forces Firing On All Cylinders 24-7, Throttling Your Company’s Success Day In And Day Out, Even When You’re On Vacation ?

  1. The full buy-in of your Leadership Team toward a mutually-agreed, long-term, inspirational vision.
  2. Their committed passion to execute a laser-focused strategic action plan.
  3. Crystal clear, time-bound, well-communicated, motivating goals.
  4. Specific deadlines for completion of critical action steps, with people responsible by name, who reliably get it done.
  5. A bullet-proof system of accountability – including team-created and team-enforced consequences for non-performance – that ensures plan implementation.

How much would you invest to have all that working for you…all day, every day? Let me ask it in reverse:  What’s it costing you now to not have all 5 Driving Forces?

in terms of an unclear vision, no buy-in from key staff, no accountability, poor performance, inaccurate or non-existent communication, customer dissatisfaction and attrition, loss of high-achieving employees, tanked sales, false starts, wasted time, lost opportunities, ill-spent cash, and senior leaders moving in different directions on separate agendas toward non-converging end points.

The cost of these can be multi-millions and can crush a business.

And one day implosion occurs, seemingly out of nowhere.  But it’s predictible!  Staggering fact:  The failure rate of businesses in America is 50% before the 5-year mark and 80% before 10 years.  Success is not guaranteed, even after 10 years.

It may cost less than you think to have all 5 Driving Forces above.

It’s what I do – help CEOs and Leadership Teams install them.  As a former corporate president, having those 5 Driving Forces when I was at the helm was worth gold bullion to me.  Top business leaders can struggle for years, and despite their best efforts, still may never get there.  But it’s not hard and shouldn’t be cost prohibitive.  Hiring me gets it done for an investment that will pay for itself many times over.  Especially considering I help you eliminate the sky-high, profit-choking, multi-million dollar costs of not having all 5 Driving Forces (painful “costs” described 2 paragraphs above).  And I guarantee my deliverables, so it’s risk-free for you.

Power Planning™ helps make it happen.

My proprietary strategic planning process – best suited for small and mid-size businesses – helps new and tenured teams get off the dime and bust through the ribbon to higher results.  It’s called Power Planning™, and when I lead it, my clients will tell you it stimulates action by installing all 5 Driving Forces (noted above) in your company.

It takes very little of your time and manpower.

Just 2 days.  The “traditional” strategic planning model, written about in most business books, takes 4 agonizing months, costs a bloody fortune, and puts shackles on your Leadership Team.

I know – I used to do a version of it for Pizza Hut in the giant PepsiCo system.  The process worked for them, but they had 3 things I’ll bet you don’t:  (1) full-time, on-staff MBA planners, (2) more cash than Fort Knox to pay for the time and manpower, and (3) the patience to draw it out 4 grueling months and put up with all the frustrating complexity, foot dragging, back-to-square-one meetings, corporate sign-offs, and red tape.

You can’t afford any of that.

Entrepreneurs are a different breed.  You’re swift, lean, fast-paced and sometimes cash-low.  You need a planning model that fits the smaller, do-it-on-the-fly size you already are – you should not have to morph yourself to fit the budget-killing, time-sapping, BIG-guy model thatdoes not fit you.

My Power Planning™ model is specifically suited for small and mid-size companies… primarily entrepreneurs… also for autonomous divisions, subsidiaries, and regional offices of large corporations (the ones who run their own shows).

You get 5 additional benefits with my process.

  1. It allows you, as CEO, to be a meeting participant, rather than leader (by using an outside facilitator), which leads to greater buy-in and effective implementation – because team members won’t feel you’re shoving a pre-determined plan down their throats.
  2. It forces buried issues to the surface – even the dark, hidden ones that are only talked about at lunch, on breaks, and over a beer after work.  But only among employees. Seldom, if ever, with you.  Those issues will come forward and be dealt with – and stop holding you back.
  3. It spreads out the responsibilities and gets things off your desk – that have been keeping you awake at night.
  4. The bullet-proof accountability system – so simple yet effective – eliminates the silent nods you thought meant buy-in – only to find a few months later really meant:  “I never agreed to that!”
  5. And you get me.  I’m a skilled, experienced, pull-no-punches, push-for-action facilitator who helps teams think the unthinkable, discuss the undiscussable, and drive to higher levels of performance.  And I insist all team members treat each other with the highest trust, respect and dignity – and never engage in humiliations, name-calling, or character assassinations.  As a former corporate president and current entrepreneur, I’ve been where you are, lived what you now live.  I’ve coached 160+ CEOs in a wide span of industries, in more than 7700 hours of one-on-one sessions, working elbow-to-elbow to help them improve their leadership effectiveness, business results, and life enrichment.  And, I’ve led 292 offsite strategic planning retreats using my Power Planning process.  YOU benefit from that breadth of experience.

Don’t take my word for it – my clients tell it better.

Click Here to see what 20+ CEO clients had to say about my Power Planning™ process, my style of facilitation, and results they enjoyed.  Then, if I can help you, please contact me at 770-391-9122 or Rick@SoarWithEagles.com.

Rick is by far the best facilitator we ever used for strategic planning and his process is the only one that was successful in achieving the desired results. Rick’s planning process and accountability measures provided the foundation to allow us to double the size of our company from $25 million to $50 million in revenues in three years. By using Rick’s strategic planning process, I was finally able to get our leadership team to buy into our strategic goals for company growth and profitability and to hold each other accountable for achieving these goals. The accountability measures insured that everyone was held responsible for their portion of the strategic plan with real consequences for failure to perform. This is probably the most important aspect of Rick’s process for developing a strategic plan. Rick has a unique gift of being able to engage everyone who attends a strategic planning retreat. He can deal with the most sensitive issues and help everyone to find the common ground needed to work together effectively. He is a high energy, enthusiastic group moderator.”

Ned Daffan, (former) CEO | AERA, Washington DC

A CEO’s Guide To Selecting A Strategic Planning Facilitator

Lots of so-called “experts” have hung out a strategic planning shingle.  But few have been corporate presidents themselves…even fewer are top-flight facilitators…and fewer still have a planning process that leads to effective execution.  (Remember, lousy implementation kills more strategic plans than any other single factor, by far.)  If you’re expecting ROI from a planning retreat – and why wouldn’t you? – here are some helpful criteria to consider when searching for a first-rate, top-gun facilitator.

6 beneficial reasons to use an “outsider”.

  1. Greater buy-in and reliable implementation from your team.  When you (the CEO) facilitate the meeting, your planning team believes you have an unannounced pre-determined plan, and you’re cleverly maneuvering them to create what you wanted all along.  They resent that.  They see their involvement as pure window dressing…an exercise in futility…a rubber stamp.  This leads to anger, no team buy-in, and weak implementation.  Worst of all, they’ll never tell you.
  2. No negative personal agendas.  If another insider (like a VP or department head) facilitates the meeting, their ability to objectively lead discussion will be adversely affected if/when discussion focuses on their area of responsibility.
  3. Unbiased objectivity.  An outsider is not financially or emotionally tied to the outcome of the plan – and can be completely objective.
  4. Outside-the-box thinking.  An outsider has no industry or company tunnel vision that your team members have – and will ask valuable beyond-the-norm questions that insiders can’t see, won’t think of, or are afraid to ask.
  5. You get realism, not junior high school game-playing.  An outsider won’t be affected by internal politics and personalities – like which departments don’t get along, who’s mad at who, what the snickers and darting glances mean – and will simply call it like he sees it.
  6. You can participate.  When an outsider facilitates, you (the CEO) can participate in the process.  Result:  stronger plan, deeper buy-in, better implementation.

7 facilitator types that can undermine the planning process.

  1. A facilitator who believes in writing the plan after the retreat, not during.  Why?  Because you’ll get buy-in to that plan only from that single writer, since he authored it – not from the team, since they didn’t.  Kiss implementation good-bye.
  2. A first-time facilitator.  This is your most important company meeting of the year – are you really willing to trust the outcome to a rookie?
  3. A facilitator who has never done a strategic planning retreat before.  Why?  Even a seasoned facilitator can get ripped to shreds on his first planning retreat.  It can get very intense – tempers flare on meaty issues.  It requires a pro with guts.  Hire someone who does it for a living.
  4. A facilitator who doesn’t think it’s important to do “one-on-ones” with each team member before the retreat.  One-on-ones are critically important.  Done correctly, they set the tone for success because the facilitator is no longer a stranger seen as the CEO’s puppet – he/she has established rapport with each participant.  (Team participants will even tell you the one-on-ones created a “success atmosphere”.)  Be careful hiring anyone who sees one-on-ones as irrelevant.
  5.  A facilitator who believes in authoring the plan for you.  Simply put, their plan, brilliant as it may be, will result in little or no team buy-in, leading to weak implementation.  You want your plan executed, right?  Then your facilitator should be a tour guide through a demanding process that forces the team to create its own plan. That causes buy-in and leads to high-powered implementation.  Accepting less is suicide.  A facilitator who can’t check his ego at the door and let the team author its own plan is worthless to you.
  6. A facilitator with no prior strategic planning clients as references.  Or worse, none who say good things.
  7. A facilitator who does not offer a written, 100% risk-free, money-back guarantee.  Ask yourself this:  Why would a service provider (or any business for that matter) be unwilling to make a performance promise?  Or unwilling to stand behind it?  Or unwilling to put it in writing?

5 reasons to hire Rick Houcek as facilitator.

  1. He’s a strategic planning pro – he’s been leading teams, in a variety of formats, for companies large and small, since the 1970s.  He doesn’t paint houses or sell insurance or work at this part-time.  He does strategic planning for a living.  He’s led 292 offsite 2-day client strategy retreats.  You win — by getting the ‘best practices’ from all those experiences!
  2. He’s been a corporate president.  Not just a vice president, or a department head, or a planning guy.  He’s walked a mile in your presidential shoes, has felt the agonizing pressures you feel, and has seen the view from the top as only you have seen it  – taking the problems and opportunities to bed with him every night.  Just like you.
  3. He has a track record of planning success.  Using his Power Planning™ strategic model, he has successfully led teams to create mutually-agreed visions… crystal clear and time-bound goals… laser-focused action plans… tracking systems to monitor progress… and Escape-Proof Accountability™ (including team-created and team-enforced consequences for non-performance) ensuring plan implementation.  This is all verifiable (see “He’ll Give You References” below).
  4. He offers you a written, risk-free, 100% money-back guarantee for a pre-set list of deliverables.  Bottom line, Rick is willing to be held accountable – the same accountability he pushes your team to create – thereby asking nothing of others he won’t demand of himself.  Click Here for guarantee.
  5. He’ll give you references (if you want them) – prior strategic planning CEO clients who have hired him as facilitator and used his Power Planning™ process.  Click Here for client comments.

5 reasons why Rick Houcek would politely decline the engagement.

  1. You don’t believe in strategic planning.  It’s okay if you don’t believe – that’s your choice.  However, success is infinitely more likely with a CEO who does believe – but who may simply have had trouble finding a capable facilitator with an effective process that ensures implementation.        
  2. Your style of leadership won’t allow the Power Planning™ model to succeed.  If you’re a dictator or autocrat… and don’t want participation from others… and you’re unwilling to change… it won’t work for you.  If the only good idea is your own idea… you tellyour people what to do… really aren’t interested in what they think… don’t care if they “buy in”… and don’t believe they could possibly have a better idea than you… it won’t work for you.  If you feel it must be your own plan and no one else’s… you’re unwilling to let others co-create it with you… and you’re unwilling to change… it won’t work for you.  If you fake group involvement by letting a team co-create the plan, but later veto the parts you don’t like, it won’t work for you.  If you’re unwilling to install firm accountability… uncomfortable letting your team members talk to Rick confidentially without you knowing what they said… and unwilling to change… it won’t work for you.
  3. You are unwilling to follow completely the Power Planning™ model, and prefer to ‘pick and choose’, the elements you like.  The pieces aren’t sold cafeteria-style.  Rick has learned the hard way – by tripping and falling himself – that if you remove any of the key elements, you invite failure.  The process works just like it is because it contains all the ingredients for success.
  4. You need a written business plan only to get outside funding.  For reasons that escape logic, money lenders prefer to see the “traditional” business plan model – the one that is 250+ pages long and looks impressive as all get-out.  While that model may get you your money (though it still may not), these plans usually collect dust after the funding is received, and virtually nothing gets implemented.  Rick doesn’t do these.
  5. He’s unavailable.  Rick’s schedule fills fast.  He books first come, first served.  He won’t cram his calendar and squeeze in another client just to make an extra buck – because someone would get diminished value.  You deserve Rick’s A-game.  That’s what he pledges to you and to all his clients. And that’s what he’ll deliver.  Every time.  Nothing less.

This guy is a class act! I run a $50 to $100 million company in the building material industry. I have used Rick as my facilitator for my strategic plan the last three years with remarkable results. He walks the talk and delivers exactly what he says. As the CEO, I can sit back and observe and participate as needed, but the result is a plan we can all buy into and can execute. The results? Sales growth up 70% in 3 years, and profits tripled. An accident? I don’t think so!”

Dave Boivin, President & CEO | Sto Corp., Atlanta

The thing that always seems to get in our way is staying on track of making goals…and holding our team members accountable. But getting everyone to buy in and take ownership, Rick was a great facilitator in making all of this work.
Because we’re all accountable to each other, none of us can stray from the goal, not even us as owners. So the accountability measures will make us successful. It has built a united front to the marketplace in 11 of us going forward at the same time, at the same pace. It is a united front in leadership which our company has lacked with 3 owners often sending mixed signals. But with one strategic plan, and one leader running it, we’ve had far greater success than we ever had in the past. I hope every CEO has the opportunity to work with Rick Houcek – a dedicated business leader and a man who really ‘gets it’ when it comes to business.”

Nan Sharp, CEO | Food For Thought, Chicago

I recommend Rick Houcek very highly. If you are looking for a pragmatic plan that you will actually implement, this is the way to go. We had him do a 2-day session last May and the results have been great. I have him coming in for another 2-day session this May.”

Rick Wolf, President | Wolf-Gordon Inc., New York

Truly, Rick, each member of the Management Team has said that he/she has never experienced a strategic planning facilitator as skilled and as effective as your esteemed self — and the team is a varied group, as you well know, and collectively, have been around a number of not insignificant blocks. And when anyone asks me about strategic planning, you are the first person I recommend.”

Jeffrey LaRiche, President | Castle Worldwide, Research Triangle, NC

Call Rick Houcek today!  Inquire about his dynamic Power Planning™ strategic process for your company – that forever eliminates the crippling effects of the single-biggest cause of plan failure:  lousy implementation! If you’ve felt the harsh sting of poor execution of the great ideas that could drive your business growth, Rick can help.  Call now.   

Contact Rick Houcek 770-391-9122 or Rick@SoarWithEagles.com