At Rhythm Systems, we teach our clients to grow their businesses with purpose using our Think Plan Do® methodology. We believe the best way to manage sustainable growth is by deliberately setting three rhythms:
- Think Rhythm - to work ON your business. This is the time you set aside for strategic planning: thinking about the competitive, economic, and political landscape; analyzing opportunities and threats; and brainstorming and testing new revenue generating ideas. We recommend spending this think time iteratively, putting it in your weekly flight path so that you flex your strategic muscles on a regular basis.
- Plan Rhythm - to plan your year and quarter. This is the time where you take all that great thinking and strategy and turn it into actionable plans for your team to execute with discipline and focus. Meeting with your team each quarter to discuss, debate and agree on your priorities and establish the main thing for the entire company to focus on for each 13 week race will help you stay agile and aligned with your team around achieving your strategic goals.
- Do Rhythm - to implement the plan and make adjustments. This is the time each week where you hold yourself and each other accountable to the results you set out to achieve at the beginning of the quarter. You don’t set the plan and forget it - back to business as usual. You meet weekly to review your dashboards so you can see how you are executing toward achieving your goals and make adjustments if you are not on track to get your desired results at the end of the quarter. This is where the rubber meets the road.
In addition to being a very powerful system for growing a business, the Think Plan Do method can be applied on a more personal level as well. For example, if you have career enhancement or personal development goals, applying these same principles can help you maintain the focus and discipline you need to achieve your goals.
- Get in a Think Rhythm. If you aren’t exactly sure where you want to go with your personal goal, chances are high you’ll never get there. Set aside some time to think about the result you really want to achieve. Is it a promotion to manager? Is it a completely new career? Is it a specific skill you want to develop? Or maybe a goal to get involved in the community or meet more friends who share your interests? Once you nail down the general goal you are shooting for, keep up the Think Rhythm and do some research on that goal. Who do you know that has the skill or trait you are trying to develop? Do you know anyone who’s gone back to school or had a career change? What are the best places near you to take guitar or yoga lessons? Keeping a journal or having a buddy to bounce ideas off of will be helpful at this stage and the discipline of keeping your think time will help you stay accountable to your goal.
- Once you are armed with the insights about what you are trying to achieve and some data to guide you, make a Plan. Determine your goal and set a realistic due date. Then, set Red-Yellow-Green success criteria. If your goal is to start volunteering on a regular basis, you might have a Green goal of “1 Saturday a month,” for example. If your main goal is to get your Masters degree, you might have to break this longer-term goal into smaller, more manageable goals. This month, maybe your priority is to “Research programs and their admissions requirements” and then next quarter is “Prepare for and Take the GRE.” For each smaller goal you set on the way to achieving your main goal, be sure to set a due date and success criteria. For the best chance at successfully completing the goal, enlist an accountability partner and document action items that break each goal down into even smaller pieces. If you are researching graduate schools, you might have action items for calling all of the program directors at schools in your area with a list of questions and when you will make each phone call. If you are setting a longer term goal, be sure to set aside time to continue your plan rhythm; if you complete all of the milestones for this month, then revisit the goal and set additional milestones for next month.
- Now that you have a detailed and SMART plan in place, get in a Do Rhythm. This means executing your plan. Maybe you block off an hour in your calendar each week and protect that time - that is the time you are going to work on your goal. Getting the plan done is when having your accountability buddy can be especially crucial. Ask that person to email or call you once a week to check in and make sure you checked off your action items or spent the time you blocked off working toward your goal. If you are a Rhythm software user, you can put your priorities and action items in your Rhythm dashboard and mark them private. This way you can work on your personal goals right along with executing your business growth plan in Rhythm, and your personal action items can be emailed to you as reminders, checked off on the iPhone app, and even downloaded to your calendar to keep you accountable to your personal goals.
As you embark on a new year with new business and personal challenges, opportunities, goals, and dreams, I hope this framework can help you maximize your effectiveness and give you the discipline and focus to stay the course. If you can dream it, you can Think Plan Do it!