Offsite strategic planning

Make things happen, no matter what.

Developing a successful strategy is hard. Really hard. Not just for you, but for most businesses and organizations. Here’s why: Most strategic planning meetings are overly rigid and end up squashing creativity and innovation. And the results? A plan with little buy-in, no wiggle room, and, at the end of the year, a whole lot of dust. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Our approach to strategic planning elicits the best, most innovative thinking from your group, helping you to look into the future, see around corners, and get crystal clear about the direction you’re moving—with space for pivots and experiments. We call it the Strategic Thinking Lab, and it’s a game-changer!

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Unleash creative solutions that solve old problems.

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Develop a 3-year plan that's challenging and realistic.

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Create collective clarity so everyone knows their roles.

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Be intentionally agile so priorities can shift in a complex world.

Here's what you can expect from your Strategic Thinking Lab experience.


Start off on the right foot.

In this initial 60-90 minute meeting with key team leaders, we'll establish the foundational pieces of your 3-year plan, along with your Powerful Question (a question we develop together that plays a critical role in our process).


Maximize your time together.

As a group, we will uncover where you are now and work to answer your Powerful Question, resulting in a one-page strategic overview, a detailed 90-day action plan, and a rollout plan for collective buy-in and clarity.


Keep your plan front of mind.

During these quarterly sessions, we'll celebrate successes and identify key learnings from the last quarter. From there, we'll make mid-course adjustments, and create the next 90-day action plan.

We’d love to learn about your goals.

We're honored to be trusted by incredible companies.

Here's where you'll be thinking.

You probably have a few more questions...

Is this really the process for us?

Does this sound like you?

As a leader, you are constantly working on goals—goals given to you by your boss or your board, or the ones you have set for yourself and your team. And, while those goals are important to you, it turns out you spend much of your day-to-day time on things like last-minute projects that come up, low performance issues with employees, hiring and onboarding due to high turnover, and dealing with unexpected curveballs thrown your way. Even when you are working on your goals, it usually involves spending time trying to get your team aligned or trying to hold each person accountable for their part in the process.

Here is the thing: Our world has grown in complexity, busyness, and uncertainty. It is no longer a straight line to get from point A to point B. Instead, that path is messy, unpredictable, and ever-changing. That makes goal setting really difficult, let alone the work to actually achieve those goals.

Our Strategic Thinking Lab experience is designed to bring some order to the complex and unpredictable nature of our world and liberate new insights, perspectives, and ideas. The result? Individual and collective clarity for your team on where you are today, what you are moving towards, and how you'll get there, with built-in ownership.

In other words, we can’t predict the future, but we can create a plan that is agile, allowing for pivots, experiments, and incredible possibility.

Who facilitates strategic planning?

The Strategic Thinking Lab experience is facilitated by Thought Design founder, Denise McClennen, and business partner, Tara Colvin. You can read about the extensive experience of both instructors in their bios.

Who should be in the room?

It depends! Reach out and let's talk about what may work best for your crew.

How do we get buy-in from those not in the room?
This is an important part of our process. We'll consider your unique circumstances when determining how to collect input prior to your in-person sessions and how to roll out your strategic plan with crystal clarity and buy-in once it's ready.
What will our final plan look like?

We'd love to walk through a sample plan with you. Reach out to start the conversation!

When should we start?

Annual planning doesn't only have to happen in December. If you're reading this page, it's a great time to reach out.

How much does it cost?
Strategic Thinking Lab experiences vary due to the unique circumstances of each group we serve, and there are additional leadership courses & coaching that can be added at a discounted rate. We'll talk about everything in detail before you start.
Do you provide lunch?
If you'd like! With a professional culinary studio and private chef on staff, we're happy to discuss catering options.
We're coming from out of town; where should we stay?
We are happy to provide you with recommendations for hotels in the northern Grand Rapids area! Just ask.
What is your cancellation policy?

We understand that emergencies and unforeseen circumstances may arise and we also have a commitment to our workshop preparation and instructors. Therefore, we have a cancellation policy in place to ensure that we can continue to provide high-quality workshop experiences.

If you need to cancel your workshop, please do so at least 21 days in advance and we will be happy to apply your 25% deposit to a new event or date within one year of the previously booked event. Cancellations within 21 days of your scheduled workshop will be considered on a case-by-case basis, and we will do our best to work with you to find a solution that is fair and reasonable for everyone.

Have another question? Reach out!


    Shall we recap?

    Through the Strategic Thinking Lab experience, you’ll connect ideas for broader perspectives, embrace differences for insight, and address issues—both obvious and flying under the radar. More specifically, you’ll walk away with:

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    Your team’s unique Powerful Question that deepens thinking, challenges assumptions, and enlightens the strategic process.

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    Structured thinking tools that provide roadmaps for thinking, sense-making, and participation to engage all voices.

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    A 90-day action plan that equips you to make progress towards your desired outcomes in the midst of a changing environment.

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    Rollout support that creates collective clarity, including a careful evaluation of current routines & patterns that could get in the way.

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    Tracking tools that provide a visual way to measure progress towards the goals outlined in your plan.

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    Quarterly follow-up meetings to reflect on the previous quarter and redefine priorities for the next.