Second Half Planning Session

Steven Cesare, Ph.D.

A business owner from Maryland called me the other day to talk about the various economic indicators all of us are trying to deal with, in this redux Weimar-like economy. Humbly successful, blessed with superlative management staff, and inquisitive by nature, the business owner waxed prescient trying to chart an adaptive course for the second half of this calendar year.

At that moment, I informed him that my frame of reference is to “suggest” that owners move away from the annual obligatory strategic planning session conducted in January and reposition their chronological calculus into six-month timeframes, establishing semi-annual planning sessions in January AND July.

Let’s face it. There is instability in every aspect of today’s economy (e.g., inflation, labor participation, materials availability, supply chain, vehicle purchasing) upon which valid planning assumptions cannot be confidently leveraged. As we speak, placid year-to-year comparisons, coupled with a traditional mindset for annual planning, are being sized up, for an industry-wide eulogy convention coming to a landscape yard near you soon.

Stop acting surprised, helpless, and confused.

Have you been awake during the past 18 months?

I believe business owners should compile their Cycle 1 successes and failures, discuss them openly (e.g., strategically, tactically, financially) with their management team, and propose a brand-new course of action for Cycle 2. Why would anyone cling to archaic data underscored by discredited assumptions from January, and sincerely believe they have efficacious fidelity to the second half of the year?

Laziness, comfort, fear?

Do those qualities define you, your executive team, or your company?

I didn’t think so.

The July meeting is not building upon the January meeting; it is replacing it. “Out with the old…” New SWOT, goals, KPIs, key initiatives, timetables, incentives, CRM techniques, budget projections, success behaviors, accountabilities, etc.

By truncating the planning process from once to twice a year, the organization implicitly encourages more, crisp, accelerated communication to its employees, renewed commitment to its customers based on recalibrated goals, and a fresh perspective to an energetic company culture. Current data, a new plan, and organizational rebirth foster renascent enthusiasm to attack the second half of the year, compared to the calcified, defeatist mindset of simply “playing out the string” for the next six months based solely on the fact that “existing” information from January, is still the best we have to build upon.

I’m thinking of a word that rhymes with “No.”


Schedule the Cycle 2 Strategic Planning meeting for the second week in July. It is not a surrender; it is a pivot. Have you ever changed your investment options throughout the year? Use available year-to-year data, tracking monthly-trends, extrapolating that path through December 31st. Determine goals, allocate resources, align expectations, and celebrate a new beginning visualizing second-chance success, instead of posturing yourself with the pretense of being a leader, visionary, and capitalist.

If you don’t schedule the meeting, what do you think will happen during the next 6 months?

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Steve Cesare Ph.D.

has more than 25 years of Human Resources experience. Prior to joining The Harvest Group, Steve worked with Bemus Landscape, Jack in the Box, the County of San Diego, Citicorp, and NASA. Steve earned his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Old Dominion University, and has authored 68 human resources journal articles. As a member of The Harvest Group, Steve’s areas of expertise include: staffing, legal compliance, wage and hour issues, training, and employee safety.  Read Steve's full bio.