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How to Close out the Quarter for Future Success

By Liz McBride

    Thu, Jul 27, 2017 @ 09:00 AM Annual & Quarterly Planning

    As I’ve said before, I learn as much from my clients as they do from me. And then I unabashedly make it myHow to Close out the Quarter for Future Success own, share it with others, and blog about it.

    Igor Sigmundovic, Product Owner and Rhythm Expert at Infobip, shared with me a concept they practice where they “close out” their priorities each quarter. They are asked to add a comment to their priorities at the end of the quarter to capture the final status color, red-yellow-green-SuperGreen, on how the priority landed, and then explain any further work to be done on this priority.

    In working with another client, Cannon, this past quarter turnover, we looked at the complexity of their priorities - the obvious carry over to at least another quarter and the extensive cross-collaboration involved. In cases such as these, there’s always the risk of leaving work on the table in the previous quarter without properly carrying it forward. Ryan Walcott, our Head of Products, calls this “waffle batter” where you pour the priority in the waffle iron and, sure enough, some of it spills over to the next quarter.

    I offered to “close out” their quarter on their first weekly adjustment meeting in the new quarter. This could also be done at quarter’s end but, it fell on a holiday week.

    We morphed a few best practices into one meeting where we closed the quarter, ensured alignment, and I observed them facilitating their weekly adjustment meeting. (I also had already completed a plan review with them.)

    The agenda was as follows:

    • Review the Team Priorities for last Quarter (follow the below steps for each priority)
      • What is your final status color? Why? Add comments.
      • Was this carried over to next quarter? Is there a new priority for continued work? Or a KPI for monitoring?
    • Review the Team Priorities for next Quarter. Expand each Team Priority to view all supporting priorities (follow the below steps for each priority)
      • Ask the Team Priority owner:
        • Do you have everything you need (supporting priorities) to be successful?
        • Have you communicated your expectations to all of the owners of the supporting priorities?
      • Ask the team:
        • Is the priority and RYG success criteria clear to you?
        • Do you have any clarifying questions to this Team Priority owner on how to support this?
    • Observe their Weekly Adjustment Meeting (optional)

    The meeting itself was relatively smooth. We made a few adjustments to how a priority was organized, but there was clarity on what was expected in each priority. I would love to take credit for this amazing alignment considering the fact I facilitated their planning session. However, I must say, I think another best practice Cannon did was probably the biggest factor.

    Turns out, while I was flying home, Cannon was performing a “Mock Weekly Adjustment Meeting” to kick the tires on their new plan. I asked Scott Edgeworth, Executive Vice President, to tell me all about this fabulous concept so I could make it my own, share it with others, and, of course, blog about it! Scott explained that they run through each KPI and Priority to see how the owner would go about statusing each one, and the team would poke holes in whether or not it made sense. Is the Priority clear enough? Does the success criteria make sense?

    In the end, I shared a best practice and learned a brand new one. What these two companies have in common is the knowledge that in order to have a great quarter, you must have a great plan.

    Incidentally, our newly released Rhythm 4.0 helps in this "waffle batter" dilemma, whereby you can extend the dates to priorities that are spilling over into the next quarter. You still run your 13-week race in order to fully cook your waffles. Mmmmmm ... chicken and waffles.

    What are your best practices in making sure your team has a great plan? Who knows...I may blog about it - while eating some waffles.

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    Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images 

      request meeting with Rhythm Systems

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