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Rhythm 2.0 - Create a Quarterly Plan for Growth

7 min read

Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images

Published March 17, 2014

Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images

Picture of Ryan Walcott

Ryan Walcott
a Rhythm Consultant

A winning quarter begins with a winning execution plan.  My last blog showed how to create a killer plan for the new year.  This blog will focus on what you need to do to create a quarterly plan to help you achieve your annual goals and grow your business.  Quarterly Planning is part of your business’s Plan Rhythm.  The Plan Rhythm is all about creating a rhythm of execution planning to let all teams and individuals in the business know what they are supposed to do in the next 90 days.

Rhythm 2.0 greatly expanded the ability for your executive team and departments to collaborate on and record your execution plans for your year and each quarter.  Rhythm now gives you a place to prepare for your planning session, record your focus and initiatives for the quarter, attach notes, and collaborate as a team before and after your session to get your plan right.

Below are 3 simple steps for using Rhythm to create a quarterly plan for growth:

Step 1 - Plan Your Quarterly Planning Session

•Plan for two days together in an off-site location to minimize distractions

•Acquire room and materials (i.e., Projector, markers, flip charts, easel, etc….)

•A week prior to the session the facilitator should ask each team member to use the Quarterly Planning Prep screens to record in Rhythm what they believe the company should Start, Stop, or Keep doing in the new quarter.  Opportunities and Threats can also be recorded here for planning session discussion.

Rhythm 2.0   Create a Quarter Plan for Growth   QuarterlyPlanningPrep

•Review our facilitator’s guide for best practices  

•Read this blog post 3 Simple Steps to Facilitate Like a Pro 

•Add pre-planning notes to Planning Notes area screen in Rhythm


Step 2 - Conduct Your Executive Team Planning Session

•We recommend two days so that on day one you can review your year and your quarter and also have some strategic thinking time as a team.

•Day two is all about getting your plan done for the quarter.

•There are 3 key elements in a completed Quarterly Plan:

•Main Thing (Theme) with Critical Numbers

•3-5 Company Priorities aligned to accomplish the Main Thing

•3-5 Individual Priorities for each team member aligned to achieve the Company Priorities

•Review the items your team recorded using the Quarterly Planning Prep screens together and vote as a team on these items to help you better understand what your focus for the quarter should be.

•Use the Quarter Focus screen to set your targets for the quarter, work on your Main Thing & Success Target, Determine Critical #s, and how you will reward and celebrate success.  The focus and Critical #s for your year are displayed in the context area on the right of the screen.  This is helpful for you to reference as you are brainstorming your quarter’s Main Thing and Critical #s.

 Rhythm 2.0   Create a Quarter Plan for Growth   QuarterFocus



•Use the KPIs screens to review your KPIs and make adjustments needed to the success criteria to reflect your growth goals for the quarter.  Add or remove any KPIs as needed to ensure you have an effective set of metrics to run the business.  Be sure to add KPIs if needed to track your execution against your Critical #s 1 & 2.

Gazelles Systems Rhythm 2.0 KPI Energy Map


•Use the Priorities Energy Map screen to brainstorm and record your top 3-5 Company Priorities for the quarter.  Click the + New button to add a Company Priority and record its details.  Work hard to limit your team to no more than 5 priorities that will be your top focus to achieve success for the quarter.

 Rhythm 2.0   Create a Quarter Plan for Growth   PrioritiesEnergyMap


•Use the Priority Detail screen to think through your Company Priorities to make each of them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, & Timely).

 Rhythm 2.0   Create a Quarter Plan for Growth   CompanyPriorityDetail


•Next, have each person on the team think through and record their individual top 3-5 priorities for the quarter and record them using the Individual Priorities screens.  These priorities should also be SMART and several should link to the company priorities to ensure team alignment to the company’s quarterly plan.

 Rhythm 2.0   Create a Quarter Plan for Growth   IndividualPriorityDetail


•Now that you have your Main Thing, Company Priorities, and linked Individual Priorities for each team member, check your plan quality by reviewing your EnergyMap to ensure you have sufficient team energy aligned to achieve your Company Priorities.  An example of a good EnergyMap is shown below.  Each square to the right of the Company Priorities represents an Individual Priority for a team member aligned to achieve that Company Priority.  Notice the bulk of the team energy is directed to achieve the top two company priorities.  This EnergyMap is a patented tool that is highly effective to help you visualize your plan quality BEFORE the quarter starts.  Knowing where your team energy is directed before the quarter starts can help you adjust the plan if needed to ensure a successful quarter.

Gazelles Systems Rhythm 2.0 Completed Priorities Energy Map


Step 3 - Cascade:  Team Leaders Conduct a 1-Day Planning Session with Their Direct Reports

•Each executive team member with direct reports should repeat the process listed above to communicate the company plan for the quarter and create a quarterly plan for the department that is aligned to achieve the plan for the company.

•This is a critical step to drive focus and alignment throughout the entire enterprise.

You can collaborate with your team at any point in the planning process using comments within Rhythm.  You can collaborate on the session itself or on individual plan items such as KPIs and Priorities.  Collaboration with comments will help you use the collective intelligence of your team to ensure the most effective session and quarterly plan.

Now that your planning is done, go and Do the Work.  Execute your plan and review how you are doing each week in a Weekly Meeting with your team so that you can make critical adjustments as the quarter progresses to ensure your success.

Helping you grow,




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