May Round Table Notes – Strategic Planning: Looking Back to Plan Ahead, In Business, In Life

June 7, 2014

The May Round Table meetings at The Business Round Table were full of great insight and discussion from area business leaders. Each meeting group discussed the topic of 2nd Quarter speaker Randy Veltkamp, “Strategic Planning: Looking Back to Plan Ahead, In Business, In Life.” In case you missed out, or need a recap, we’ve shared the notes below.

Discussion Topic: Strategic Planning: Looking Back to Plan Ahead, In Business, In Life.

Kalamazoo, Thursday May 8th

  •  The idea of Strategic Planning has been much more focused
  •  One page Strategic plan by year, quarter, week and evaluate each week
  •  The book “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits” was suggested as a great read.  It can be found at Amazon for $14.10
  • How are we recreating ourselves over time?
  • It’s one thing to look back, it’s another to have the data to look back upon.
  • Be very critical of the reality of your failures, get good data.
  • The market is very aggressive
  • Work/ life balance is more important, enjoyment of life and environment are much more important.        
  • We only have so much energy we can give. 
  • Intentional, strategic vs. winging it
  • Need to “operationalize” your strategic plan.  Stay disciplined and stick to the plan.
  • Accountability
  •  What is the Master Strategic plan?  Keep focused on the vision.
  •  They Key is simple: The more elaborate you make the plan, the harder it is to stick to it.
  • Research and development. Research where we’ve been and where we shouldn’t be again.


  •  If we don’t take accountability for our failures, how can we learn from them and move forward?
  • How can we recognize a failure? We have to recognize there is the failure and what caused it.
  • Have to have the goal and the measuring tools.
  • The longer you go in a misdirection, the more lost you’re going to be.
  • You’ve got to have some measurements
  • Understand the urgency to meet the numbers.  “Did I train that person properly to get the job done? Do they really have the ability to do the work they need to do?”
  • The toughest part is terminating people.  I’ve kept people in the wrong place way too long. Past failure.
  • What do I want to do vs. Lord, what do you have for me.


  • Arrogance, not learning from others that came before me
  • Relationships, family relationships were not in perspective
  • Right on principle but the expression or approach was not appropriate
  • Chasing the almighty $$$ vs. coaching and inspiring

Take away

·   Needing to lead by example and by faith
·   Learn from others’ mistakes
·   Never think “I am above the business cycle”
·   Be humble
·   Lord, What do you have for me?
·   What would be Christ centered?

Kalamazoo, Friday May 9th

  • How do you achieve balance in you work and personal life? How do you make sure that all of your efforts are going to something that is worthwhile?
  • Keep a scorecard on the activities you want to do. Keep track of how what you are doing each day affects your business.
  • How do you focus your quality time when you have it? How do you determine what is important?
  • Cut away the bulk, take some time to decompress.
  • Short time can be higher quality time.
  • Commit to two hours a week for personal development. Have to have the discipline to stick to it.
  • There is so much information coming at us all the time, you have to filter out what is important. Use the plan you have created for yourself or for your business to determine what deserves your attention.
  • Need to find activities that clear your mind and help you to refocus.
  • Balance isn’t the same all the time, life has different phases. You’ll need to continually adjust your plan. Make your plan for a certain time frame, 1-5 years, 10 years, etc.
  • The ultimate solution is to be Christ centered.
  • Who do you surround yourself with? Surround yourself with people who bring out your best.
  • Be intentional about balance and quality, make sure your also allowing time to help others.
  • Scheduling company time so everyone shares the burden of work to be done. Keep every member accountable for the work they’re assigned to do.
  • Getting people on board with your plan has to come from the employees up. Sit them down and ask what the plan looks like to them? If feedback and steps in the plan come from the employees it will be more meaningful to them. Ask them for solutions to the problems your company is facing.
  • An interesting indicator of a company functioning without a plan is one that has high turnover. Is high turnover/burnout part of your company culture? An indicator the plan is not working.
  • Balance is not natural, it is intentionally created.

Kalamazoo, Tuesday May 13th

  • Busy with day to day
  • Look deep inside
  • Challenge should be day to day as we get lost because it isn’t in the day to day
  • Desensitize our self to long term, let’s look at the 5, 10, 15 years we didn’t think creative or strategic
  • Overwhelmed with logical planning
  • Where is the vision-milestones where/how is it aligning
  • Look back to see what’s worked before and how can I do it better. Learn from the past.
  • Looking at the growth curve
  • Thinking of the next generation starting new businesses
  • Check rearview mirror but don’t stay there.  Look at the future too.


  • How did the process pull together? Disciplined. Getting better faster, actual vs. projected.
  • Not monitoring
  • Didn’t reinvent themselves
  • Vague criteria, not accurate for great team vs. setting clear and defining criteria for every team.
  • Industries didn’t learn from 2008 banking –lending to everyone.
  • Discipline and measurement, looking and paying attention. Use tools that work and stay in tune
  • Stop, look, daily
  • Few key measurements
  • Don’t let your business run you – you run your business
  • Not having an inner circle that are are all “yes” people – getting outside influence
  • Made wrong decisions and putting efforts in the wrong places
  • Finding where the real value is
  • Tools are good but more important…implementation
  • Strategic Planning – when you go to the plan/employee do they know and understand it?
  • Vision for the company gives a better understanding/picture

What keeps you up at night?

  • How do we learn from our past failures?
  • Personal plan
  • All the acquisitions head on collisions.


  • Flying by the seat of our pants
  • Deciding where and when we want to be when we grow up
  • Strategic Planning –asleep at the wheel, needed to reinvent themselves, invented for next wave, how do you get it up to the peak and keep it going?
  • Self-evaluation
  • Knowing you, strength, weaknesses, what am I gifted for? Knowing where you are. Remembering I am not good at everything.
  • Where we are today, rock solid, no distortion, a better start tomorrow, what are your reference points, objectives?
  • Outside consultants can be beneficial
  • Who do you bring in? Consultants are many. Pray – interview several consultants who think like you, fit for you, and have the same philosophy. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the people it’s about the people.

Grand Rapids, Thursday May 9th

The Challenges:

1)      Defining our scope and capacity, and then having the discipline to operate within that space.
2)      Staying focused on our core competencies
3)      Finding supplier/vendors that understand our needs and fit our culture.
4)      Expanding wisely
5)      Extending authority and responsibility to department leaders to empower them, so they can empower their staff, and relinquishing control all along the way.
6)      Establishing performance measurement metrics that pull everybody into the process, the vision, the mission and the results.
7)      Finding the blind spots that we have.
8)      Discerning whether to fix mistakes from the past, or to invest resources in other directions, completely.

The Solutions:

1)  Engage 3rd party experts, consultants, contracted specialists, temp help, etc.
2)  Dig as much as necessary to get to the core of the problem, as opposed to treating a symptom of under performance.
3)  Simplify!
4)  Seek wisdom and experience from our trusted network of stakeholders.
5)  Identify what measurement metrics are most important, and then work backwards to improve the process that impacts them.
6)  Instill a culture that allows people to fail or fall short, because that is a necessary component of creating innovative solutions and growth.
7)  Ask and be sure we understand why something works well.
8)  Know when to step back to give people the space they need to figure things out for themselves.
9)  Instill structure to the process.
10) Invest in personal profile analysis (DISC, Strength Builder, etc.) to help teams improve their communication skillset with one another.

The Takeaways:

1)  Invest an appropriate amount of time analyzing a past failure, in proportion to how relevant it is to your core customer service(s) and competencies.
2)  Invest in your people and in their ideas, which usually requires taking more time to listen than we may be offering presently.
3)  Value the failures we experience in business and in life, because our failures are what lead us to understanding the need and the grace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
4)  When we sense that people are telling us what they think we want to hear as opposed to the truth, recognize that as an opportunity to change the culture, change the leadership style and/or change the relationship.

Grand Rapids, Tuesday May 13th

Your Challenge:

  • Defining the vision
    • Create a companywide process
    • Identifying trends
    • Working with forecasting models
    • The rapidly changing environment (technology, legislation, etc.)
    • Finding the time
    • Changing attitudes vs. “We have always done it this way”

The Solution:

  • Commit to separating execution of the plan from creating the plan
  • Communicate the vision
  • Communicate the direction
  • Create buy-in at all levels
  • Everyone needs to be on the same page
  • Trust outside of yourself – Trust God

The Take Away:

  • Make a commitment to plan
  • Identify resources internally and externally to build the plan
  • Check and re-check progress of the plan
  • Do not be afraid to change the plan (i.e. succession planning) when events / circumstances change
  • Create time in schedule to execute against the plan
  • In life (and business), God sometimes has a different plan.  “It is not about you” from the Purpose Driven Life

Join us for our June Round Table meetings starting next week as we discuss the topic: “Using Failures to Drive Successes.” Contact Christa at, to RSVP.