Do you know the situation? You start the annual strategy process in the management team and, as every year, you invest a lot of energy in updating the usual analyses. You then try to communicate the results of the strategy work – with very little effect on the currently quite demanding day-to-day business. It is also very difficult to involve your key people in the implementation. And as long as everything is not fixed and approved, the implementation is not even started.

“Dialog with your experts on burning strategic issues saves time-consuming analyses and reduces blind spots in the management team.”

The Strategy Workout method offers a particularly efficient approach to working on your strategy.

The logic of Strategy Workout

The Strategy Workout is a simple and straightforward method to reduce complexity in strategy work. The key is to leverage the intelligence of the organization by involving selected key people from multiple organizational levels in the process. Core elements of the method are:

  • Bring together the people who know the issues best.
  • Challenge them to come up with creative solutions
  • Make decisions immediately
  • Empower people to take responsibility for implementation


In an intensive meeting with top management, you set the framework for the strategy work: initial situation, challenges, ambitions as well as the direction of strategic developments – formulated, for example, as a driver statement. Based on this, a small design and preparation team as well as the participants for the workout are set. These are your relevant experts from several hierarchical levels, with whom the strategy is worked on in depth and subsequently also implemented. The design meeting is followed by a lean preparation process for workout agenda and fact gathering.

Strategy Workout

Well prepared, attuned, and motivated, the management team and typically another 10 to 20 key people meet for a two- to four-day workout. On these days, they work together with high intensity on strategically shaping the future of the company. The first part of the workout consists of a compact strategic assessment of the company’s position, a dialog on the vision of the future and a sharpening of the strategic questions. The really burning issues are then worked on directly in the workshop, in different constellations and with creative methods. There is constructive debate about the content. Concrete proposals are presented, discussed, and defended already in the workshop. Ultimately, broad-based decisions are made immediately. Stopping points such as decisions requiring supervisory board approval must be considered. The result of this energetic process is prioritized strategic initiatives with an implementation roadmap including Objectives and Key Results. This makes it possible to concentrate on the things that really matter and to set the right focus.

Thanks to the digital possibilities, a workout can now also be conducted completely virtually. Here, too, the work is very dialog-oriented, alternating between plenary sessions and small group sessions with digital whiteboards. In the case of a two-part workout, more in-depth preparation and the involvement of further experts can be carried out between the blocks.

However, an undivided workout can better keep the momentum of the strategic work high.


The implementation is already set up in the workout and an implementation team (sprint team) is defined. It is crucial that this team can work intensively on strategy implementation and is also empowered to make quick and autonomous decisions within a defined framework. During the sprint, the team meets regularly in short-scheduled stand-ups to manage and coordinate strategy implementation. The focus is on obstacles and task packages for the next two weeks. This way, everyone knows what the others are working on and can make important cross connections. Every three to four months, the team meets for detailed review meetings in which the work backlog is filled, i.e. the next activities are planned. Regularly, an hour should also be invested in evaluating the collaboration and improvements in the team (retrospective). The key results are evaluated at the latest in the review meeting. A look is taken at any changes in the environment and their impact on the strategy work. The goals for the next sprint period are then planned, new Sprint teams are started if necessary, and the process starts again from the beginning.

Success factors and effectiveness

  • Dialog with your experts on the burning strategic issues saves time-consuming, usually backward-looking analyses and reduces blind spots in the management team.
  • Involving your key people in strategy work mobilizes, simplifies communication, and ensures commitment to implementation right from the start.
  • Quick decisions and the possibility of readjustments bring a significantly higher implementation speed for your central strategic topics.

There is typically more potential in the organization than management is aware of. A suitable procedure is needed to raise and mobilize the potential. The “Strategy-Workout” format ensures that the team has this powerful strategic orientation and rapid implementation.

The three phases of Strategy Workout

  • Meeting with the sponsor
  • Initial clarification of strategic ambitions, issues, questions, and other parameters
  • Selection of the design team and the workout participants
  • Preparation of facts and further preparations
  • Design of the workout phase
  • Two- to four-day workshop, if necessary, in two blocks, involving experts on the strategic topics
  • (Expert) dialog on the initial situation, future vision, and strategic issues
  • Creative development of proposals
  • If required, intermediate phase for in-depth preparation of concepts
  • Presentations or pitches, on-the-spot decisions
  • Commissioning of implementation, implementation roadmap
  • Start of implementation teams (sprints)
  • Work according to agile methods, controlled with OKRs
  • Reviews and adaptation steps every three to four months, start of next Sprint teams
  • Ensure sustainable effectiveness and celebrate successes


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