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Quarterly Planning

Work with Rhythm Systems to develop an execution ready quarterly plan to achieve your strategic goals

Quarterly Features From Rhythm Systems

  • Manage and Prioritize Your Growth Ideas
  • Build and Track Inspiring Annual Initiatives
  • Annual Planning Facilitation Experts
  • Execution Ready Tests Minimize Surprises
  • Execution Training and Support for High Performing Teams
  • Quarterly Planning Facilitation Experts 
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Effective Quarterly Planning Process: Know Your Purpose

The purpose of your quarterly plan is to drive your annual plan and your long-term strategy forward. Many companies create winning annual plans to help you achieve your BHAG but don't take the time create an executable quarterly plan that lays out the path of progress to achieve the targets.  The secret to a winning quarter is to focus on your top 3-5 company priorities or rocks. Create a plan and finalize it, say no to the things that aren't as important. Then take your Main Thing, cascade it to all departments and transform it into a daily question that everyone uses every day to maintain focus on the priorities that are important to your business.
Want to get a head start on how to run a successful quarterly planning meeting?  Download our free quarterly planning agenda template to help you create your 90 day plan.
Free Download Quarterly Planning Agenda
Quarterly Planning Meeting Facilitation

Quarterly Planning: Preparation is Key

Everyone should be involved

Good preparation is key to ensuring you create the right strategy and execution for your quarter (we call it a13-Week Race and many call it a 90 day plan), to stay on track to hitting your annual goals. You should be thinking of prepping for the next one as soon as every new quarter starts.


Three months prior you should set the date, place and time. Determine who should come and secure a facilitator for the quarterly alignment meeting. The facilitator can be the CEO or any team member. We strongly advise companies larger than $10mm in revenue with 50 or more employees to use an outside facilitator, your team will have a more successful session with an impartial view at the helm. If you are going to do-it-yourself:  Download this step-by-step Meeting Facilitation Guide

One month prior you should hold a pre-planning meeting with a core group to review your Annual Plan and determine the meeting objectives. Discuss strategic and operational topics that might be useful during the session and gather as much employee and customer feedback possible.

One week prior you need to send out the agenda for the quarterly team meeting. Also, give the team homework and create a place for them to state what they think the company should Start Doing, Keep Doing and Stop Doing in order to be successful. Make sure the meeting room is stocked with all your facilitation tools.

We have done some of the pre-session work for you!

Download the Pre-Quarterly Planning Bundle:

  • Quarterly Meeting Planning Checklist
  • Quarterly Planning Agenda
  • Start-Stop-Keep Tool w/Directions

Meet With The Quarterly Planning Experts

Great Quarterly plan

Appoint a Quarterly Planning Meeting Facilitator

Preferably not the CEO or an executive team member.

When designating a facilitator, consider this: when senior team members facilitate your important planning meetings, it can cause participants to withhold agendas or thoughts, to resist challenging others, to not be challenged in their thinking, and to not be fully engaged.

If you are a company with more than 50 employees and $10mm in revenue, we suggest you hire an outside facilitator to bring out the best in your team and you.  We have an excellent resource on the Value of Outside Facilitation for Quarterly and Annual Planning for you to read and determine if that is the best for your organization.

If you are the CEO, it is almost impossible to participate and facilitate your own planning session at the same time. Your team is already used to deferring to your opinions. Couple the power of being the CEO with the power of being the facilitator, and your opportunity to listen, learn and get the best ideas from your team falls dramatically. Instead, pass the facilitation duties to someone else and immerse yourself in the meeting. Your ideas and contribution to the discussions will provide a much greater return compared to your facilitating the meeting.

If you, or someone else in your company is going to facilitate the quarterly planning session, read our meeting facilitation guide.

Download Guide: 3 Steps to Ensure Your Meeting will be a Success

quarterly planning meeting facilitator

Create a Quarterly Planning Agenda

Use this quarterly planning agenda template to facilitate effective and executable 90-day plans

Recommended Quarterly Planning Agenda

Download Agenda

Communicate Quarterly Plan Across the Company

Cascade the executive plan so each department can align to the goals.

Quarterly Planning Communication Gap.png

In order for each department to align their goals for the quarter to the company's, they need to know the plan. Sharing plans across all departments can be challenging, especially when you have ten or more groups, geographic disbursement and/or the inability to pull a whole team at once (like a 24-hour support team).  In order for CEOs to close the strategy execution gap, they need to take this step to get everyone on the same page.

Here are some ideas that work:

Town Hall

This is a great format if your company has five or fewer Groups and everyone is located in the same office. In this example, the Executive Team and each of the Groups have already completed their plans. The next step is to have a Town Hall-style meeting where the Company Plan is shared and then Group Plans are shared, which we call cascade planning. Have an open discussion on cross-functional priorities and finalize things as a team.

Cascade Planning Offsite

This is a great format for companies with people spread out over multiple locations. It not only accomplishes quarterly planning, but gets everyone face time with one another once a quarter. In this example, the Executive Team has finalized the Company Plan, but Groups haven’t planned yet. Depending on the number of groups, it can take one or two days. From a high level, the agenda is: CEO shares Company Plan with everyone; Groups go into breakout sessions to complete their plans; Groups get back together to share plans across departments and negotiate cross-functional quarterly priorities, remember that a 90 day plan is a fixed amount of time - don't overload your team!  It is better to have fewer priorities done right than to have an overextended team that doesn't execute against its plan.

Web Conferencing

Teams are connected via web conferencing software, such as Skype, Zoom or GoToMeeting. This format requires a facilitator to lead the call and some advanced preparation to identify conflicts ahead of time.  Make sure that all of the participants use the video feed so that you can better communicate with each other and get the most out of your time together.  

Virtual in Software

Rhythm cloud-based software is a great format for companies that are not able to travel to meet in person, or are unable to pull everyone off the front lines at once. For example, the Executive Team has finalized the Company Plan and the Groups have the first draft of their plans in Rhythm. Next, Group Leaders use their team’s regular Weekly Meeting time to look at the other Group plans. If they see priorities that raise a question or concern, the Group Leader records a Comment on that priority and notifies the necessary people immediately. Negotiations and finalizing of the plans happen live in Rhythm. If possible, this works well if all the teams are in Rhythm working at the same time for maximum efficiency and collaboration.  Learn how quarterly planning software can drive your execution.  Plus you can learn how our software walks you through the 4 tests of an execution ready quarterly plan.


Check on Your Plan Weekly in Your Weekly Team Meeting

The only way to know if you need to make adjustments is to track your quarterly planning goals weekly.

Your weekly meeting should drive accountability and engage your team to focus on working on solutions rather than spending the time giving status updates. Weeks 4-6 are the most important, avoid being blindsided by missed priorities and KPIs (check out our 25 KPI Examples For Manufacturing Companies for some industry leading KPI examples) by using the collective intelligence of your team to make critical adjustments during the quarter to achieve success.  We also love to do lean quarterly planning to help systematically drive our waste in your organization.
Weekly Adjustment Meetings are a key part of an overall strategic meeting rhythm that helps grow a company toward excellence. Your Annual Plan is important, but the degree to which you can up the ante on the content of your Weekly Meetings is the degree to which you can build a great organization.
Quarterly Alignment in Weekly Meeting

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