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Don't Let Your Annual Planning Fail: Create a 4-Quarter Flyover

By Tiffany Chepul

    Thu, Jan 16, 2020 @ 11:00 AM Annual & Quarterly Planning

    Are you setting your team up to fail to deliver your Annual Initiatives? There’s only one way to know: Don't Let Your Annual Plan Failcreate a 4-Quarter Flyover Plan. 

    This is one of the most valuable and often overlooked steps in Annual Planning. This step helps the team shift from strategy to execution and create an action plan to achieve the goals you've set for your year. Fleshing out your year will ensure the work behind each of your Initiatives is spread out to make the best use of your team’s resources and bandwidth. After all, you don’t want all of the heavy lifting for each of your 5 Initiatives to hit in one quarter!

    Download a free tool to help you complete your 4-Quarter Flyover Plan exercise, or if you have Rhythm software, you can build your plan right there.

    Here are 4 simple steps to create your 4-Quarter Flyover Plan:

    1. List your 3-5 Annual Initiatives, your top projects to focus on for the year. Each Annual Initiative should start with a verb, have an owner and clear success criteria (we use a simple Red-Yellow-Green method). The owner should lead the charge on the Initiative, make sure it gets the resources it needs throughout the year, and advocate for it. The owner is key when the team is thinking through the quarterly execution that supports the Initiative.
    2. Determine the WHAT. For each Annual Initiative, list the high-level Priorities that you think will need to happen in each quarter of the upcoming year. Break the Initiative down into the key milestones that you think you'll need to accomplish to complete it successfully.
    3. Determine the WHEN. For each Annual Initiative, decide in which quarters it will require energy from the team. When do you need to complete those milestone Priorities? Some Initiatives will require execution in all four quarters. Some might not start until Q3. Others might just be in Q1 and Q2.
    4. Adjust your Plan. Now that you know the WHEN and WHAT for each Annual Initiative, look at your collective list for all of your Annual Initiatives. Does all of the work fall in one quarter? Is there a quarter with little to no work in it? Is there a quarter that requires too much work from one particular department or person? Make any adjustments needed to ensure the work is spread out in a way that makes the best use of your resources.

    Once you have the blueprint for your year, keep in mind that your 4-Quarter Flyover Plan is not set in stone. You should still meet with your team each quarter to create an execution-ready quarterly plan for the next 13 weeks. The Priorities you've outlined during the 4-Quarter Flyover exercise at Annual Planning are an important place to start, but things change and none of us can see the future. Planning the work to hit your yearly goals is critical to your success, but so is remaining agile by meeting each quarter to make adjustments and fine-tune the plan.

    Download Free Annual Planning Guide

    Looking for more Annual Planning information to help get you started? Check out our additional resources:

    How to Conduct an Annual Planning Meeting

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

    How CEOs Can Avoid High-Cost Mistakes in Annual Planning

    Rhythm Systems Annual Planning Resource Center

    Annual Planning Best Practices

    Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images

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