As the CEO or team leader, you probably put a lot of time and energy into preparing for your Annual and Quarterly Planning sessions for your business. You probably spend time thinking about the agenda, planning the discussions you think you'll need to have, pulling together some data in advance, working on slides, coordinating with a meeting organizer on the logistics, or at the very least, collaborating with an outside facilitator to do all of these things. It's safe to say your brain is probably in the room long before you get to that planning session, but what about your team?
There's nothing more frustrating than walking into a meeting or planning session where you need creative ideas, data-driven contributions, and well-thought-out insights only to find that the team is only halfway there. You need to get their brains in the room in advance as well, or you will spend too much time catching them up to speed and lose out on your chance to really dig deep on the discussions you need to have to come out with a great plan.
Preparation is key for a number of reasons:
- Engage the team in advance. Get them thinking about what the plan should be before they walk in the room.
- Gather insights and data needed to make decisions. Don't get into a discussion on a topic only to realize that you should have talked to this person first or found out that piece of information. Come armed with all the knowledge you need.
- Save time in the session. If you've prepared well, you can do more with the time you have set aside for planning.
- Confirm the agenda. If you are facilitating and notice that most people have suggested the same topic on the prep work, that is a good indication that it should probably be on the agenda for discussion.
At Rhythm Systems, we recommend a simple Start-Stop-Keep exercise to help your team prepare well for planning.
Here's how to do this simple exercise:
Download image here.
If you lead a team, be sure to have your direct reports complete this exercise as well. There may be some ideas from those who work closer to the customers and the front line that should be considered at the executive team level.
I hope this tool can help you to prepare well and have a great annual or quarterly planning session!
Want to learn more about Quarterly Planning? Check out these additional quarterly planning resources:
Rhythm Systems Quarterly Planning Resource Center