Proper Quarterly Planning Rhythms. In order to achieve orgazinational alignment, there needs to be an established planning Rhythm that cascades to the next level of management. For example, the Executive Team has a planning session first, to determine the Company Priorities and execution plan. Next, each member of the Executive Team with direct reports goes back and has the same planning session with their Group to determine their Group Priorities and execution plan. The Company Plan is shared with the Groups during their individual sessions. It is the function of the Group Leader to ensure that the resulting Group Plan is aligned with the Company Plan.
Use a Theme and Critical Numbers. As part of the Company Planning Session, the Executive Team will determine the Theme (main thing) for the quarter as well as the Critical Numbers. Critical Numbers are the two most important KPIs for the quarter that illustrate how the Company is performing on their Theme. For example, if the Theme for the quarter is "Grow our Client Base," the Critical Numbers might be "# of New Clients" and "Client Retention Rate." As Groups go through their individual planning sessions, the Theme and Critical Numbers function as everyone's "north star."
Proper Weekly Meeting Rhythms. Once planning is complete, weekly execution habits must cascade to the Groups as well. The most successful Rhythm is to have the Groups meet first, and have the Executive Team's weekly meeting follow. For example, the Groups meet individually on Monday morning and the executive team meets Monday afternoon.
Do the Start Stop Keep exercise at the Group Level. The recommended prework for any planning session is to have all planning participants complete the Start Stop Keep exercise in advance. To help achieve alignment with the next level of management, members of the Executive Team should ask their direct reports to complete the SSK as well. Before executive team members submit their personal SSKs for the executive session, they should have gotten input from their teams regarding SSKs in advance. This will ensure that the Group Leader has an accurate picture of their team's concerns going into Company planning.
Increase Visibility. Once the Executive Team and all the Groups have completed quarterly planning, make the plans public and accessible. Encourage Groups to take a look at each other's plans to look for areas of cross over. Is everyone aligned on due dates and Red Yellow Green criteria? If you are using Rhythm, viewing other teams' EnergyMaps will be easy.
What experiences can you share about driving alignment in your company?