I was out shopping with my wife this past weekend and started seeing holiday decorations creep their way into department stores. Normally, the sign of giant red bows and the smell of evergreen causes me to have heart palpitations, because it means it’s Q4, the last 13 Week Race of the year. It’s your last chance to hit the numbers and meet your goals. This year, I’m humming a different tune.
This Q4 we will be hosting our first-ever Breakthrough Execution Conference and have two special company announcements to make. Instead of scrambling to pull plans together, we have a strong plan in place to ensure a successful year-end. The first week of the quarter, especially in Q4, often sneaks up on you, but how you set and confirm your priorities in week 1 can change the outcome of your quarter.
I’ve seen a lot of people status Green the first week, because it’s the first week, and they think they’ve got it covered. But by week 4, they start scrambling because they realize suddenly that they do not know how to achieve the goal. And to make matters worse, they have already lost a month! Here is how I recommend you status your first week of Q4 so that you can start your Q4 strong and achieve your goals for the quarter and year.
Green: Status Green if you’ve set clear Red-Yellow-Green success criteria and have 3 milestones planned for each priority. If you don’t have milestones for each priority, you haven’t spent time envisioning and planning how you will get things done. If you can’t see where you are going, how will you know how to get there?
Yellow: Status Yellow if you’ve set clear Red-Yellow-Green success criteria, but don’t have your milestones established.
Red: Status Red if you haven’t set clear success criteria or milestones.
SuperGreen: Don’t forget SuperGreen! Status SuperGreen if you have clear Red-Yellow-Green success criteria, three milestones, and you have actually already started making headway towards achieving your priority.
TIP: Begin with the end in mind by visualizing your 3rd milestone first. Next, figure out what you need to do to get started. Then fill in the blanks in-between.
Milestones are important to help get the project or priority up and running. Even if you’ve already started checking off a few tasks for your priority, if you don’t have milestones or success criteria, you should still status Red. It is important to know you are focusing on the right tasks first, before you start crossing things off your to-do list.
Being able to visualize how you will achieve your priorities in week one will help you have a productive first week. In your first weekly meeting of the quarter, you should discuss your priorities as a team to help confirm each other's Red-Yellow-Green success criteria and milestones. If your teammates don’t “get it”, you probably need to revise your success criteria and milestones.
Okay, now go out there and have a great Q4!