"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." - Mike Tyson
I've never met a CEO who expected his or her team and their plan to fail. People are optimists, for the most part, and most CEOs have faith in their teams to succeed. After all, the CEO hired the team, came up with the plan and work with the team every day to achieve the plan. Yet inevitably, many plans do fail. Why is that and what is it costing you?
Revenue is a great example as it's the lifeblood of any organization. It funds your growth, pays your people, enables you to deliver great products and serve your clients. What happens when revenue goals are missed? Can you not fund R&D to develop that great new product? Does the new piece of equipment that you need to purchase go on hold? Do you have to lay people off or stop providing stellar service to your clients? Are your investors ready to pull out? Scary things can happen when plans are not delivered successfully and revenue goals are missed.
Here are some of the most common reasons we've seen as to why plans fail:
The plan is managed in multiple spreadsheets and systems.
This disjointed approach can cause massive miscommunication and misalignment between multiple departments. Teams don't have a clear picture of dependencies and shared resources. They can't see the company-wide plan all in one place. In this case, the CEO and team leaders lack visibility and real-time information, which forces them to be reactive rather than proactive in solving execution issues.
Roles, goals, and expectations are not clear.
Many plans that fail lack the clarity that is needed for good, solid execution. Who is responsible for each priority in the plan? What is going to be considered success and failure for each priority? Every piece of the execution puzzle has to have a clear owner and a defined expectation for a successful outcome. This allows for clear communication and collaboration on priorities throughout the quarter. When the waters are muddy, it's also impossible for the CEO and leaders to know who or what priorities need help.
It wasn't a great plan from the start.
A great plan starts with a great quarterly planning session to make your annual plan actionable. As CEO, it's hard to wear the hats of both the planning session facilitator and planning participant. We recommend using a seasoned professional facilitator to help the team have the right discussions necessary to build a great plan. Some teams have a person with that strength internally. Other teams rely on a Rhythm Systems Consultant to bring that expertise. A great plan should be focused (only 3-5 top Priorities), accountable (clear expectations and ownership of each priority) and aligned across all departments company-wide (all dependencies and shared resource issues resolved). It's not an easy task but a necessary one to set your team up for success.
So, are your failing plans holding you back from greatness? Think of all you could do if you hit your revenue, margin, profit or client retention goals consistently!
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