As in the past many years, I entered 2020 with a full schedule of strategy and execution planning work with my clients. Then the pandemic hit, and I was not sure what that was going to mean and how I was going to take good care of clients. The good news is that nearly every session went forward virtually. Other consultants in our firm had the same experience. I give our clients a lot of credit for having the trust in us to run the sessions virtually using Zoom, and the courage to work with their teams this way. A couple of CEOs expressed concern and doubt up front, but they knew that moving forward with planning was mission critical; their teams needed to work on their strategies and develop strong execution plans that would ensure people would execute on the right priorities.
Posts about Annual & Quarterly Planning
Many companies have strong Annual Plans but fail to execute on them and miss their targets year after year. They know that they are missing something, but they aren’t sure what. There are many reasons why nearly half of all companies fail to meet their annual targets, but one of the most important reasons is that they fail to implement a strategic software system to drive company execution. As more employees work from home, they need to have an operating system for the business to stay aligned for the full year. It's time to ditch the strategy execution spreadsheet and upgrade to a system that can help your remote teams collaborate around common goals with complete alignment.
From a leadership perspective, there’s a real thirst for increasing leadership accountability. Executives have recently asked me various questions that linger over the concept of building team accountability to help them achieve their strategic plans while creating high performing teams:
“How do I build accountability in teams?”
"How do I increase accountability in leadership?"
“What else can I do to get people to do what we need them to do?”
“How can I hold a team member to be held accountable and still be seen as a good leader?”
"How do I balance leadership accountability and personal accountability when building a team?"
"Creating a culture of accountability is hard, how do I provide constructive feedback without being the bad guy?"
Building team accountability requires that we understand a few dynamics because it’s more complicated than we might recognize. It goes beyond the responsibility for the outcomes, which is obviously important, but effective leaders know that they need a culture of accountability in their teams that provide the inputs needed to achieve the expected team performance. Holding people accountable is one of the most important things that a successful leader does, but it is also one of the hardest.
Business is moving faster than ever before, and these days your business needs to be as nimble possible to respond to the rapidly changing business landscape. In today’s nonstop global economy, there is always somebody, somewhere trying to capture part of your market and your customers. This has only increase with the global coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, you need to be able to pivot faster than ever. You need to create an organization able to respond to the changes in the market more quickly than ever, or you will lose market share to the competition. Unfortunately, many of the legacy software tools that businesses use don’t adapt fast enough to work in today’s cutthroat global economy and need to be modernized. Software teams realized this decades ago and quickly shifted from the outmoded Waterfall methodology to the Agile software development framework; it is time for the traditional business planning to catch up to this advancement when implementing business strategy.
As strategy planning experts, we often get asked how to run a strategic planning meeting, as great strategic meetings don’t happen by accident. They happen because someone is committed to THINKING through the purpose and outcome, PLANNING all of the details in advance, and DOING the hard work of running the meeting. This is the role of an excellent virtual planning facilitator that can help you better define your strategy, create a winning annual plan and leave with an action plan to get your annual initiatives done. In order to facilitate a planning session, there is a lot of hard work that needs to be done. These same techniques should be used for in person sessions and virtual strategic planning sessions with your management team.
Executive Weekly Meeting Team Size
For the most effective weekly team meeting, your weekly leadership meeting team should consist of 8-10 people. If your group is too large, consider who truly should be part of the executive team meeting. Perhaps some people should participate at the departmental team-level weekly staff meeting only if they aren't part of the strategic planning process. You can always invite them into the executive meeting when they have an important project that you need to discuss when it is time for an important update or discussion. Your goal is to avoid unproductive meetings by inviting too many people for the entire executive meeting, when they might only be relevant for a portion of the meeting.
Executive Meeting Framework
Also, the executive team should be using your Quarterly Plan as the framework for the meeting. The plan should consist of 3-5 Strategic Company Initiatives and 3-5 Personal Priorities each. Owners of those Priorities should have statused them Red, Yellow or Green prior to the Weekly Leadership Team Meeting. You need to discuss long term growth initiatives, not just the "urgent" items from your daily firefighting that need to go through the executive decision-making process.
Did you know that nearly half of all companies fail to meet their financial targets? Much of this lack of success can be traced back to poor annual planning sessions. Perhaps you talked about the targets and set them, but you failed to create an action plan to get there. I understand - there is an amazing amount of work that goes into facilitating a winning planning session. We know how hard it is, as our Rhythm experts have facilitated thousands of successful planning sessions to set our customers up for success. This blog will give a high-level overview of the five keys to creating a winning annual plan for 2021. To have an effective planning meeting make sure you and your leadership team follow the five steps highlighted in this article to have an effective planning meeting.
Sounds like a simple concept: Alignment. What makes this so hard to achieve? The fact is, if you are hiring the right people, you will have a lot of smart people on your team who disagree with each other. This is a good thing. Alignment doesn’t mean that everyone starts on the same page; if that were true, then you’d just have a bunch of robots running around who all think the same way and who never challenge your ideas or come up with anything creative, interesting, or groundbreaking.
Difference of opinion among your team members is a key ingredient in developing the right strategies for your team, the ones that have been analyzed from different angles and debated in your planning sessions. However, when the dust settles and the decision has been made, this is where alignment takes over from diversity of viewpoints as the key to your strategy’s success or failure.
How much did misalignment cost your organization in 2020? Misalignment comes from poor planning, and it results in poor execution and missed numbers. The missed numbers happen in many categories: poor customer delivery, lost revenue, employee frustration/bad morale, great people leave the company and the loss of great customers. You don't want your team looking like this one.