In working with clients recently to prepare for quarterly planning, I noticed a pattern of two questions I am frequently asked.
Question #1: "How do we balance our future growth with the daily health of our business? Should our quarterly plan be focused on growth for the future or issues that are challenging us right now?"
The short answer: both.
Quarterly Priorities should be a result of the discussions the team has around Starts, Stops, Keeps, Opportunities & Threats, and progress toward achieving your Annual Plan. If your biggest threat right now is the front end of the business "bleeding red," your priorities should reflect a plan to stop the bleeding. What are we, as a team, going to do in the next 90 days?
Depending on the team's bandwidth, and the priorities you end up setting after that discussion, you may or may not have room to work on additional priorities related to your Winning Moves (future growth). That's okay. As a team, determine your Top 3-5 most important Company Priorities for the upcoming quarter. There may not be room for anything else other than "stop the bleeding" priorities. There might be room for one person to have a personal priority around a Winning Move to keep the ball rolling. It all depends on your discussion during planning.
Question #2: "We have so many KPIs that are consistently Red and Yellow. We talk about them at our weekly meetings, but nothing ever seems to change. How do we factor those into our quarterly planning session?"
The answer goes back to the difference between and a KPI and a Priority. In short, KPIs are things you measure; priorities are things you do.
The first inclination that people have in this situation is to just add more leading indicator KPIs. For example, if Revenue and Sales are struggling, let's measure more leading indicators (leads, # of meetings, # of calls, etc.).
However, the way to solve a Red KPI is with priorities, not more leading indicators. KPIs are simple measurements that don't reflect energy. You might find some clues to your best action plan in your leading indicators, but they will not reflect the energy of change. For example, it might provide some insight to measure the number of leads, but without a priority that outlines an action plan to drive leads, you won't see much change in the number (the leads OR the revenue!).
That being said, it is impossible to positively impact all of your Red KPIs in a quarter (unless you just have a couple). You need to focus on the most important one or two (based on the Starts, Stops, Keeps, Opportunities & Threats discussion) and go deeper on action plans. Again, what are we going to do this quarter to affect change? What are our priorities? Focus is key.
Another thing to note regarding KPIs is that the Green success criteria you set really needs to be achievable and realistic. Use SuperGreen to push for growth. Using a stretch goal as Green is demotivating to the team. Again, a KPI is a simple measurement. Growth happens in your priorities. What are you going to do to get 15% growth this year? Simply measuring it won't get you there.
So, set your quarterly planning date and commit to a healthy Discuss, Debate, Agree session regarding priorities. Happy planning!