Having been with Rhythm since 2010, I have some teams that have done over 20 consecutive quarterly planning
sessions. Can you imagine the dedication that takes to never have missed a quarterly planning session in 5 years? It amazes me every quarter to see these teams relentlessly commit to planning as a team - they are completely inspiring! It makes me proud to see so many of them reaping the rewards of solid rhythms and being recognized on the Inc. 5000 list.
With such consistent planning habits in place, it’s increasingly important to keep things fresh for the team. Going into Q4 planning, some teams are shaking up their pre-planning session preparation. The Start-Stop-Keep exercise is still at the core. However, here are some additional pre-work items you may want to consider:
1 - Ask each team member to status the Annual Key Initiatives. Does everyone agree on what’s Red, Yellow and Green? What items need an extra push? Which items could you have the biggest impact on in Q4? The Key Initiative’s owner should also prepare in advance to share an update on their item with the team.
2 - Ask each team member to pick the top 2 KPIs that are stuck in Yellow or Red that you all could impact positively in Q4. What is close and needs an extra push? From the facilitator’s perspective, it’s helpful to see if your team has a shared perspective on what’s most important to impact in the upcoming quarter.
3 - Ask each team member to do a Start-Stop-Keep to solve a specific problem. Usually, SSKs are done from a general perspective. However asking the team for SSKs regarding something specific drives a much different discussion at your planning session. For example, “What should we start, stop and keep doing to retain more customers?”
The pre-work suggestions above can drive some really great discussions at your planning session. From great discussions come great priorities and quarterly plans.
Think what your team could accomplish if you were to focus Q4 energy on your Annual Plan and a couple of stuck KPIs and execute well. It would be a great way to end the year!