The things I'm most excited about in the new version of Rhythm are the features for cross-functional teams and departments. Achieving team alignment during the planning process is key, and most teams get really good at it once they get the hang of it. Where I have seen teams really struggle is in maintaining that alignment once execution begins and they are in the thick of their 13 Week Race.
Below are some tips and new ways to support cross-functional team alignment and execution in both the Plan and Do Rhythms.
Align to the Company Plan
At the Company level, the executive team determines the Winning Moves (3-5 Year Plan), Annual Initiatives, and Quarterly Plan that guide the entire organization. Now departments and teams can also record their own Winning Moves, Annual Initiatives, and Quarterly Plans in Rhythm to align to the Company Plan.
Ideally, the executive team should determine the Company Plan first, then teams should align to that plan in their planning sessions. However, in some more complex organizations, I have seen some modified planning models work. For example, in one company with over 40 different teams, the teams do some pre-planning each quarter. They determine the priorities they think they need to be working on, then make adjustments after digesting the Company Plan. This can work if everyone stays connected to the overall strategy, keeps an open mind, remains flexible, and understands that the Company Plan trumps everything in the end.
Align Plans Across Departments
After teams have filled in all the details on their Quarterly Plan – Priority descriptions, due dates, Red-Yellow-Greens – teams should share plans with each other. Focus on dependencies and cross functional priorities. Is everyone aligned on what is success and what is failure? Do the due dates line up and support dependencies?
They should also make sure that all Priorities are linked to the Priorities they support in Rhythm (you can now link to more than one Priority!). This will ensure a seamless Project View of each Priority that shows all of its supporting Priorities. Slowing down to do this right after planning will ensure you are aligned and set you up for successful execution throughout the quarter.
Stay Connected Throughout the Quarter
Strong Rhythm habits around Weekly Meeting Preparation are still a must - you still need to status your Priorities & KPIs and put Comments in where appropriate. You should also make a habit of looking at other teams’ dashboards, commenting on other users' priorities, and holding each other accountable throughout the quarter. Attend another team’s weekly meeting a few times if that will help execution on a cross-functional priority. Read other people’s comments and look for opportunities to help.
You can now Follow Priorities (and other items!) that you need to know about throughout the quarter so those comments show up in your email inbox.
In addition, you also have the ability to status any Winning Moves or Annual Initiatives you own in Rhythm. Statusing these items quarterly helps you stay accountable to your strategy and update your team.
Use Rhythm to plug yourself in and stay connected with your team, as well as other cross-functional teams throughout your 13 Week Race. Start by getting aligned during the planning process and stay strong with connected execution throughout the quarter.
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