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Making Plan Adjustments: The What, When & How to Make Adjustments

By Jessica Wishart

    Tue, Jun 30, 2020 @ 09:00 AM Strategy Execution

    How do you know when it’s time to make an adjustment? You’ve got your quarterly plan, and it just doesn’tRhythm-Systems-Making-Adjustments seem to be going, well, according to plan. Sometimes, knowing when to make an adjustment is tricky. So - when is it time for a new game plan and when do you stay the course, nose to the grindstone, and just get it done?

    What are Adjustments?

    To be clear, when we talk about making adjustments, we don’t mean adjusting the goal - what we mean is adjusting the execution plan to achieve the goal for the quarter.

    For example, you might have a revenue goal of $10K for the quarter. You had a sales plan to get there. But, in the meantime, your biggest client left you. Now, the plan you have for sales isn’t going to get you to that revenue number. Rather than adjusting the $10K goal for the quarter to $7K, you need to adjust your execution plan so you can still hit your target. Now, you have to be more aggressive with your sales plans - maybe you need to schedule an extra webinar series or trade show or run a discount or special to still hit the numbers for the quarter. You might have to hire an intern or bring in a partner to make additional outbound sales calls. You might also focus more attention on your remaining clients to ensure retention so that your bottom line doesn’t take another hit.

    As a side note, there can be exceptions to the rule that you adjust the execution plan and not the target. If you get a few weeks into the quarter and realize that your goals were just plain unrealistic and your team is completely demoralized, that might be time to reconsider the rule. Engaging the team with realistic success criteria may be more important than hitting those too-lofty quarterly targets. If you do decide to adjust the goals, be clear with the team why you’ve made that decision and how it will impact the goals you’ve set for the year and for the future.

    When to Make Adjustments

    This really varies, but there are some best practices that might guide your thinking. Unless you have a key milestone that was missed early in the quarter, you usually want to wait about 3 or 4 weeks before making a change. The best time in your quarter to pull the trigger on an adjustment is in Week 5 or 6. This is far enough into the quarter to pick up a pattern of Red and Yellow statuses that lets you know that you’re not on track to get this done, and it is still early enough in the quarter to be able to execute a new plan that will get you back on track.  The process of adjusting should be a normal part of your weekly team meetings to shift resources to where they are most needed.

    Identifying your key milestones in planning can really help you know when to make an adjustment. Especially on a priority that has multiple people or different departments working together, you need to ensure that you’ve got the milestone action items mapped out with the right due dates. If you miss a due date that throws off all the dependent milestones and impacts the others’ working on the priority, that’s another good trigger for making an adjustment.

    During your Weekly Adjustment Meetings, keep your eyes open for priorities that are Red or Yellow in Weeks 5 or 6 and for action items that are overdue. If you aren’t able to come up with a solution or resolution during your regular weekly meeting time, you might need to take further action.

    How to Make Adjustments

    Plan B: Ideally, during your quarterly planning session, you would take some time to talk through Plan B for your major priorities or targets. That way, if the time comes during your 13-Week Race when you realize that your current execution plan just isn’t working, you already have a plan to make an adjustment. If you’ve ever been under pressure to make a big decision, you know that you don’t always do your best thinking under the gun. You might come up with better adjustment plans when the pressure is off, and you’re just brainstorming during planning. Anytime you have a major strategic priority to execute, having a Plan B for any contingencies is a good best practice.

    You can use the Planning Notes field on the priority detail in Rhythm to write out your Plan B. Then, if you need to make an adjustment, you can do so quickly.

    Adjustment Meeting: If something unforeseeable happens, like losing your biggest client or facing an unexpected industry regulation change, you might need to make adjustments that you couldn’t have planned for during your quarterly planning session. When you don’t have a Plan B ready to roll, the best thing to do is schedule an Adjustment Meeting. Usually, this is separate from your regular Weekly Adjustment Meeting - your agenda is to come up with an adjustment plan. You need to get the right people in the room, brainstorm possible alternatives that can still get you to your goals, and come up with a new execution plan for the remaining weeks of your quarter.

    In a previous post, Melissa gave an example of an adjustment we made to our conference plan last year that had a big impact. I’d love to hear some examples from you of adjustments you’ve made and how they’ve helped you reach your goals. Good luck!

    Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images

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