Four Tips to Help Gather Great Insights and Supercharge Your Annual Planning Session

By Patrick Thean

Annual Planning

dateThu, Nov 30, 2023 @ 11:00 AM

If you feel like your last annual planning session was not as great as it could have been, you may have been missing a key ingredient: the right data. Data is the secret weapon that will allow you to have meatier conversations and write much better goals. And guess what? The best data and insights come from the people who know your company best: your team members! 

annual planning

How will you ensure that you get the most accurate and relevant data possible? This process goes beyond just sending out a survey. It is about relationships and building a culture of trust among your people. 

Here are four tips to help you gather great data and supercharge your annual planning session:


1. Collect data and insights from the frontlines

The closer an employee is to the front lines, the more rich their insights will be! As part of the executive team, you have a great high-level view of the business. But you don’t know what you don’t know. It is essential to identify the employees who touch your customers directly and ask for their stories. Their experiences interacting with customers may spark an idea that you would have missed out on otherwise!


2. Make people feel heard early in the process

People often do not bring their ideas forward because they feel unheard. Year after year, quarter after quarter, you have been telling them your plans. But have you asked for their feedback and considered their input? Start building a culture where people are asked for their input, especially during planning, and where that input is taken seriously. One way to do this is to invite each departmental team to do their own Start, Stop, Keep exercise prior to annual planning. Review their ideas with your executive team. Your employees will gradually become more and more comfortable sharing their thoughts and experiences. 


3. Ask the right questions

If you use Ask Patrick, the Rhythm AI Coach, you know that you get better answers when you ask more specific questions. People are the same way! You want to let their creativity run wild, but you also want to be specific in what you are asking. 

Here are some questions to get you started: 

  • What are some strategies or ideas you think we should consider for our three-year plan?
  • Are there any obstacles stopping the progress of our current strategies?
  • Are there any adjustments we should make to our current stated strategies?
  • What are the top three most important things to accomplish next year and why?
  • What are the top three things that we should stop doing - that add little to no value?
  • What are the top three things that are working well that we should keep doing next year?

4. Add value by inviting guests

Often, we assume that only the executive team should attend the annual planning session. Yes - and who else? If your team doesn’t have expertise in all the topics you will be discussing, you are missing out. Bring in other team members to share their knowledge. Tell them that you will be exploring a topic that needs their insight and that their expertise will help the company develop the best plan possible for the upcoming year. They will feel valued, and like their knowledge and experience are contributing to something that goes beyond their day job.

Don’t overlook the diamonds in your backyard - your very own team. The data and insights they have to share, especially when it comes to stories from the frontlines, will level up your session and help you create a well-informed annual plan. 




For More Information Check Out These Additional Resources

2024 Annual Planning Meeting Agenda: 5-Step Process to Create an Annual Plan

Data-Driven KPIs: How to Make Data-Driven Adjustments to Hit Your Targets

The Secret to Compounding Business Growth

Rhythm Systems Introduces The First AI-Driven Business Coach for Strategy Execution

A 5-Step Process to Pressure Test Your Growth Strategy


Patrick Thean


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images