How to Stress Test Your Quarterly Plan (Video)

By Tiffany Chepul

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So you've just completed your Quarterly Planning Session and are ready to execute.  Before you start, how do you know you have the right plan?  Are you setting your team up for a successful quarter or not?

In the past few weeks, I've been helping teams do just that - evaluate their Quarterly Plans. Some were great, some needed a few tweaks, and others needed to return to the drawing board. The good plans pass these 4 simple tests:


Plan Financial Test:

- If we successfully complete this plan, will we also achieve our financial goals?  It seems like an obvious assumption to make, but we have seen companies successfully achieve every one of their priorities and at the end of the quarter, tell us that it was a lousy quarter.  It’s important to stretch the team and move the company forward every single quarter, but not at the expense of letting your core business suffer.  There are some basics that you just can’t take your eye off of.  Make sure you have the right KPIs in place as part of your Quarterly Plan.

Plan Focus Test:

- Is our Main Thing clear to everyone and supported by the Company Priorities?

- Is each person's list of Individual Priorities 5 or less?  Is anything on their lists out in left field?  Teams should challenge each other's priorities to make sure no one is overloaded or focusing on things that aren't important to the Company Plan.

- If you are using Rhythm, are all Individual Priorities linked to the proper Company Priorities they support?

Plan Energy Test:

- Do we have enough energy (Individual Priorities) focused on the #1 Company Priority?

- Does each Company Priority have enough Individual Priorities driving it to achieve Green?

- Is the bulk of the team's energy (Individual Priorities) focused on the Company Priorities instead of on their Day Jobs?

- If you are using Rhythm, look at your Company Energy Map to see this quickly.  Is the team's energy deployed properly?

Plan Accountability Test:

- Do all Priorities have clear Red-Yellow-Green (RYG) success criteria that everyone agrees on?

- Do all the Due Dates make sense on priorities that are dependent on each other?

- Do all KPIs have the correct RYGs for the current quarter?

- If you are using Rhythm, is each Priority ready to be statused in a meaningful way for your first weekly meeting?

If your plan doesn't pass all four tests, reconvene the team and make some adjustments.  It is best to slow down and do things correctly in Week 1 instead of realizing your plan wasn't the best in Week 10. 

Rhythm Systems Pre-Quarterly Planning Bundle


Read our other strategic planning blogs below:

Annual Planning: 9 Tips to Focus & Align Your Team with a Great Plan

Annual Planning Playbook: 5 Steps to Create a Winning Annual Plan

How CEOs Can Avoid High-Cost Mistakes in Annual Planning

Best Practices for Annual Planning

16 Strategic Planning Tips to Keep Your Strategic Plan Alive

9 Steps to a New Revenue Growth Strategy [Infographic]

Photo credit: iStock by Getty Images

Tiffany Chepul


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images