How to Build an "Execution Ready" Quarterly Plan

By Tiffany Chepul

dateThu, Oct 15, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

I'm excited to be leading a breakout session at our upcoming Breakthrough Conference. Admittedly, at first, I was a little nervous. Then, I realized it really is what I have been doing with Rhythm clients for the past 20+ consecutive quarters: teaching teams how to build "Execution Ready" quarterly plans.

It sounds so simple, but I see it challenge even the most seasoned teams.  They have their quarterly planning session and deliver what they think is a great plan.  Then, as we dig into it together, we identify gaps that would have toppled their execution mid-quarter if left unaddressed. 

Here are some high-level tips for creating an Execution Ready plan, which we will dig into more at the Breakthrough Conference breakout: 

Solid Quarterly Planning Prep.  You cannot achieve an Execution Ready plan without having a very well prepared for quarterly planning session.  A plan can only be as good as the work that goes into it.  The CEO should prepare, the team should prepare, and the facilitator should take their job very seriously.  The team should have the right discussions and make decisions about their quarterly priorities in the context of their strategy.

Well-Written Priorities.  Priorities should be specific and actionable.  They should have a verb and describe exactly what is going to be accomplished during the 13-Week Race.  For example, "Sales" is not a well-written priority.  "Achieve $10M in new product sales" will drive a much better outcome and prompt the right behaviors from the sales team.

Effective Red-Yellow-Green Success Criteria.  In order to have solid execution, the team must be aligned around the definition of success and failure for each priority in the plan.  It must be specific and measurable.  Success isn't "100% Complete."  Success is "New process in place and being used on all orders."

Test your Plan.  Before execution begins, the final plan has to be tested against four criteria: Energy, Focus, Accountability and Financial.  If it fails any of those criteria, adjustments need to happen before resources are wasted executing on a plan that is set up to fail.

Communicate Your Plan.  Once an Execution Ready plan is in place, it has to be shared and cascaded throughout the organization.  Departments need to build their plans and share them with each other.  Ultimately, every person in the organization needs to know the plan and have at least one priority for the quarter that aligns to it.

Again, it sounds simple, but in practice it can be very difficult!  An Execution Ready plan is the result of a group of people, all using the Rhythm methodology and speaking a common language, with the shared purpose of achieving their strategy.  Easy, right?

Join us at the Breakthrough Conference to learn how to build an Execution Ready quarterly plan with your team!

Tiffany Chepul


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images