There are many different characteristics and habits of High Performance Teams, but one that has a big impact on execution is sharing quarterly plans across departments. Does your company do this crucial final step of planning?
The process for Cascade Planning starts with the Executive Team. After they determine the Company Quarterly Plan, each Team (department, functional area or location) meets to create their Team Quarterly Plan. Their goal is to support and align to the Company Plan, and determine what other Priorities their Team needs to complete in the next 13-Week RaceTM.
Here’s where things get interesting. The step most often overlooked during this process is getting the Teams back together to share their Quarterly Plans with each other.
Think of this scenario: You lead the sales team. You need HR to help with ten new hires, and you need IT to set up ten more new employees with computers. The product team also needs to hire three new developers and needs help from IT with some hardware to support a new product. Oh, and there are also three more teams that need those shared resources, too. How do those needs impact the Team Plans for HR and IT? And, how do things get prioritized?
The final step of sharing plans across departments is critical to negotiating resources and ultimately setting each Team up to run a successful 13-Week Race. It’s definitely more effective to negotiate cross-functional priorities in Week 1 than to wait until Week 10 only to find out your need was last on the list. Or, not on the list at all!
Sharing plans across departments also ensures alignment of Red-Yellow-Green success criteria and due dates for priorities that are dependent on one another. For example, the marketing team can’t finish marketing materials until the product is ready. The sales team is waiting on marketing materials. These teams must be aligned on due dates and expectations in order for these cross-functional priorities to finish Green.
So what’s the best way to close the loop on planning and share plans? It’s a lot of people and logistics – especially with ten or more Teams! Also, there are other challenges like geographic dispersement and the inability to pull a whole team away at once (like a 24-hour customer support team).
Here are some ideas and things I have seen work for others:
This is a great format if your company has five or less Teams and everyone is located in the same office. In this example, the Executive Team and each of the Teams have already completed their plans. The next step is to have a Town Hall-style meeting where the Company Plan is shared and then Team Plans are shared. Have an open discussion on cross-functional priorities and finalize things together.
Cascade Planning Offsite
This is a great format for companies with people spread out over multiple locations. It not only accomplishes quarterly planning and annual planning, but gets everyone face time with one another once a quarter. In this example, the Executive Team has finalized the Company Plan, but Teams haven’t planned yet. Depending on the number of teams, it can take one or two days. From a high level, the agenda is: CEO shares Company Plan with everyone; Teams go into breakout sessions to complete their plans; Teams get back together to share plans across departments and negotiate cross functional priorities.
Virtual in Rhythm
This is a great format for companies that are not able to travel to meet in person, or are unable to pull everyone off the front lines at once. In this example, the Executive Team has finalized the Company Plan and the Teams have a first draft of their plans in Rhythm. Next, Team Leaders use their team’s regular Weekly Meeting time to look at the other Team plans. If they see priorities that raise a question or concern, the Team Leader records a Comment on that priority and notifies the necessary people. Negotiations and finalizing of the plans happen live in Rhythm. If possible, this works well if all the teams are in Rhythm working at the same time for maximum efficiency and collaboration.
This format is similar to the above, but includes a webinar component. Instead of Commenting back and forth to resolve conflicts, teams are connected via webinar or video conferencing. This format requires a facilitator to lead the call and some advanced preparation to identify conflicts ahead of time.
So, make the commitment to this final step in planning next quarter. Use one of the formats above, or create your own agenda for this important exercise. If there is another format that is already working for your team, we'd love to hear about it!
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