Tips to Shake up Your Planning

By Liz McBride

quarterly planning

I am incredibly lucky to work with clients quarter after quarter, year over year. We’re part of each other’s quarterly planningextended family. My home state of South Carolina was hit with two hurricanes in recent months and my clients were ping-ping-pinging me making sure I was safe - inquiring, perhaps, as to whether or not they needed a new consultant. Luckily, we were in a boring section of the storm and three McBride boys with no school benefited on all accounts. I might add my state also sold the winning Powerball billion dollar ticket, and these same folks texted me to again see if they still had a consultant. They do. I would still do what I do with a billion dollars. I would just look AMAZING doing it.

To remain in the fabric of my client’s lives, I feel the need to keep things fresh.

Here are some tips you may want to use to shake up this next Annual or Quarterly Planning:

  • Shake up the Prep Work: Think of the discussions you want to have. What prep work questions do you want to collect to provide themes or insights to the discussion? Are the traditional Start, Stop, Keeps feeling a bit stale? You have the Ideas board at your disposal so take advantage! What items do you want brainstormed? Perhaps you have a top Threat to your organization to address. Perhaps your Start, Stop, Keeps could be focused on how to mitigate this particular area?
  • Peel the Strategy Onion: Revisit your core strategy every year and every quarter. Ask your consultant for advice on areas of your strategy you can strengthen. Hit a growth plateau? Culture non-existent? Lack of focus? Building out a successful strategy is an iterative process and will infuse excitement in each planning session if you allow the collective minds to spend time in high-level strategy. Crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s of execution is a different part of the brain...there’s room for both.
  • Revisit the Destination Postcard: Last year’s visualization or Destination Postcard of where you would be by this time this year could be a wonderful leaping off point to your Annual Planning. Did we do what we said we would do? What should we copy/paste to next year? Pound on the table, stand up, and cheer for every success you’ve won. Success breeds success. And people next door who need silence need a life.

Free Download Quarterly Planning Agenda

  • Share the Stage: To make creating the plan an accelerated experience, ask the owners of the 3-5 revenue generating Winning Move to present their case. What assumptions have they tested? What are the results? What is left to do? Where do they need help? Use this same approach for any elephant in the room, hot topics or trends you feel coming on the horizon. Ask for 1-2 presenters. If you do this, provide a template for all to follow so the presentations get to what is needed and are consistent.
  • Break up Groupthink: There’s nothing more disconcerting for a facilitator than pairs and pairs of eyes just staring at you. And blinking. Blink-blink-blink. Move into action! If groupthink is in the way with no one willing to speak up - hand out paper for them to share their ideas privately. Call out the ideas anonymously. Also, use every opportunity to break the larger group up into smaller think pods. Why not? It could be on the same topic but, you get a quick way to generate multiple perspectives on how to tackle.
  • Ask a ‘Me’ to Facilitate: I would still do what I do whether or not I won the Powerball. You have a team of 'Me’s' who will find out what is top of mind for you and tailor all of the above to get you where you need to be. We will figure out the right strategic topic to discuss, the right prep work questions, and we will prevent the blink-blink-blink of eyes. And we all look amazing, despite our lack of lottery number selections.

In the end, if you are gathering your team to have real discussions on where you need to go and how you’re going to get there, you are ahead of the game. I hope these tips will help you stay on top of your game so that you always come out with a plan you can get excited about. Let this plan be what your team is pounding on the table and clapping about next year/quarter.

What do you do to shake up your planning? I would love to know...especially now I’ve given away some of my secrets.

Looking for more information on planning to help get you started? Check out our additional resources:

Annual Planning Meeting Agenda

Best Practices for Annual Planning

Rhythm Systems Annual Planning Resource Center

How to Choose the Right Priorities During Your Quarterly Planning Session

The Definitive Guide to Quarterly Planning

Rhythm Systems Quarterly Planning Resource Center

Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images

Liz McBride


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images