Many companies begin their annual planning process by first creating their annual budget. Then they bring the budget to their annual planning session. This process has some inherent limitations:
Rhythm Blog | Annual & Quarterly Planning
by Patrick Thean and the Rhythm Team
By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail – Benjamin Franklin
It is that time of the year again: time to prepare for your quarterly planning session. A question that I get frequently is, “should we plan for a one-day or a two-day quarterly session, and what do most of your clients do?”
At this point in the year, many companies are gearing up to plan for the next year. Before you lock down your budget for your next year, ensure that you spend a few days with the executive team to assess where you are on your strategic plans and growth targets and really think about where you may need to make additional investments to grow your business. Your annual planning session is a key part of your business rhythm; this is where you develop and advance your 3-5 year growth strategies or Winning Moves, map out the annual initiatives to get you there, and create your blueprint for your entire year of execution. In order to get maximum value out of this expensive time with your team, it is critical to have each person in the room prepare well.
Who is facilitating your next One-Day Quarterly Planning Session?
Whether you are doing it yourself, bringing in an outside facilitator, here are some tips to help you.
Every quarter is like a 13-week race that contributes to your Annual Plan priorities and Long-term 3-5 year goals. It is important to take the time to prepare a sound plan that your team is aligned with and bought into. To ensure a good planning session, you need to do some preparation.
Have you ever been in your departmental quarterly planning session, and you feel resistance from a team member about taking on another priority? You may hear things like, “I’m too busy - I have too much on my plate.” In the meantime, some team members are wondering why they are saying this. From their perspective, they don’t seem to have more to do than everyone else. I mean, what do they do anyway? This can fuel some resentment between two people or the whole team.
Or, maybe you have team members that want to take on a lot of new priorities. They are the ones who say, “I got it” - “I want to be on that team” – “Add more priorities for all of us.” This can make some team members uneasy because they feel that last quarter some members overcommitted and did not complete a project on time. Someone may suggest they do not volunteer and hand it to another team member – hmmm. How is the team feeling now?
You go to your doctor every year for a physical, but you rarely do this for your business. As you prepare your team for Annual Planning, it’s a great time for your annual check-up!
Do you feel like there might be some underlying issues as to why your team consistently falls short on execution? Or, that holes in your strategy might be contributing to things just feeling “off” at your company?
We work with hundreds of companies to help them find and address gaps in their strategy and execution using the Think-Plan-Do methodology.
Quarterly Planning is just around the corner, are you prepared to create a winning plan this quarter with your team?
Here are 10 tips to get you started:
I would challenge you to think very hard about this question as it’s not an easy one to answer based on my experience as a facilitator, strategist and execution coach. Part of my job is to help companies prepare for and have effective annual planning sessions that are strategic to help them reach their long term goals. Too often, time is spent at the operational level, action planning or setting unrealistic targets with no real strategy how to achieve them. It is very important for the team to spend ample time researching, gathering data and preparing for their sessions to get the most out of them. I have said many times through the years that it is not enough for a bunch of smart people to get together in a room for a couple days and expect to come up with great plans. There is a lot that goes into the preparation, and the strategy work needs to continue long after the session concludes.
I think this question is so important, I am developing a workshop for this year's Breakthrough Conference to help companies evaluate how they are doing at strategic annual planning and share ideas on how to get better at planning strategically.
For the most effective weekly team meeting, your executive team should consist of 8-10 people. If your group is too large, consider who truly should be part of the executive team meeting. Perhaps some people should participate at the departmental team-level weekly meeting only.
Also, the executive team should be using your Quarterly Plan as the framework for the meeting. The plan should consist of 3-5 Company Priorities and 3-5 Personal Priorities each. Owners of those Priorities should have statused them Red, Yellow or Green prior to the Weekly Meeting.
“A good plan executed right now is far better than a perfect plan next week.” - George S. Patton
Patton had it right. An executive pattern that I’ve often seen is paralysis while waiting for perfect. As a mid-market company, you don’t have the time, profit, or revenue that allows you to wait for perfection before execution. It may not be a sexy story, but it's time to SMACCC to save your company.
Several years ago, I was coaching a CEO for a $17mm company. He had a financial officer who would not get the books quickly closed at end of the month, who often had to restate earnings, and who only reported instead of interpreting the numbers for financial decisions, realistic projections, and future initiatives. This CEO worked hard but was unwilling to be hard on the financial results. I sent a copy of Simple Numbers by Greg Crabtree to no avail. My final advice to the CEO? Replace his financial officer. The CEO didn’t, and one year later the company let go of nearly 30% of the workforce. Waiting for the perfect that never happened put them at risk of what occurred. They haven’t recovered.