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Rhythm Blog | Annual & Quarterly Planning

by Patrick Thean and the Rhythm Team

Models for Successful Cross-Functional Planning

Tiffany Chepul Mon, Nov 23, 2020 @ 11:03 AM

One of the biggest challenges for companies is aligning their priorities across the entire organization. As a leader, you need the right people working on the right things at the right time in order to move your strategy forward—so how do you do that?!

We’ve seen that the companies who do this the best use at least one of these three proven models for successful cross-functional planning:

Planning for an Uncertain 2021: Tips to Create Plan A and Plan B

Alan Gehringer Wed, Nov 18, 2020 @ 11:03 AM

We recently held our 6th annual Breakthrough Conference, although it was our first ever virtual conference, and I want to share a few ideas from one of the two sessions I facilitated: Planning for an Uncertain 2021.

These are extraordinary times we are living in right now, and traditional approaches need to be challenged. As we enter into the busiest time of the year for annual planning, I hope you will find these tips useful.

Virtual Strategic Planning Sessions: 7 Tips for a Great Strategic Planning Session

Jessica Wishart Fri, Oct 30, 2020 @ 11:03 AM

If you are like many of our clients, you may be considering adjusting travel plans for your team in the midst of the concern surrounding COVID-19. This will obviously have a big impact on most businesses, which makes it more important than ever to prioritize your team’s quarterly planning meeting. You’ll need to spend time thinking about the impacts to your team and your business, so even if you are canceling travel, don’t cancel your session!  This is likely to be the most important virtual strategy session in the history of your company - even if you can't meet face to face.  You need to be agile to respond to the ever-changing market conditions while creating your 3-5 year strategic plans.  

Level 5 Leadership Examples- How to be a Level 5 Leader

Cathy McCullough Fri, Oct 30, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

The Level 5 Leadership Stage is Set…

Have you ever had this "strange" feeling that you just couldn’t shake? I recently went through that. It was after a two-day Annual Planning Session with a newly formed executive team (the company had been through a major transition). It was a great two days but the reality is that as the session began, the “stage” was a bit of a mess because the executive team was fractured in their vision for the company. In spite of that, alignment and clarity of vision were created over those two days. But after the session, my reflective thinking left me feeling suspended inside. It was a strange feeling.

The strange feeling actually began to linger as the two day session ensued; it was just something I noticed but I couldn’t get my mind wrapped around what it was. It was subtle, non-obtrusive yet politely prominent. It just lingered. Upon reflective thinking after the session came the epiphany. It was the CEO. Yet, I still couldn’t pinpoint anything. So, I asked myself: What is it about this CEO that I can’t grasp? What is it? 

Preparation is Key: 21 Quotes to Inspire Your Planning Process

Jessica Wishart Thu, Oct 29, 2020 @ 11:03 AM

Over the last few months, my husband and I have been re-watching AMC’s Mad Men, a show we started a long time ago and never finished in the flood of other enticing streaming content and demands of life with two small kids. While there is plenty of workplace behavior on this show that I by no means endorse, every once in a while, Don Draper drops in with a quote that makes me think. For example, in one episode, he says to his apprentice, Peggy, who’s struggling to come up with an idea for a client, “Just think about it deeply. Then forget it. And an idea will…jump up in your face.”

It got me thinking about how critical it is to prepare well for strategic planning, especially as most of our clients are in the midst of Q4 and Annual Planning. You can’t just show up in the meeting and hope inspiration will strike, and you’ll create the perfect strategy for navigating this challenging environment filled with uncertainty. You need to put the time in to really think, prepare well and clear your head in advance. Maybe then, with the right preparation and when you least expect it, inspiration will strike.

Do You Need a Strategy Refresh?

Alan Gehringer Wed, Oct 28, 2020 @ 11:03 AM

There is no better time than the present to work on completing your strategy. You may have wanted to nail down your work on core customer, brand promise or brand promise guarantee. You may need to review your core competencies and refresh the short list. Maybe you are getting close to reaching your Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) and need to envision a new one.

As many people continue to work virtually, it creates the perfect opportunity to set aside time and schedule a virtual planning session or two. Working virtually allows more flexibility by allowing you to break sessions into 4-hour increments, if desired, and you can schedule the work over several weeks.

Breakthrough 2020: Key Insights and Takeaways

Jessica Wishart Tue, Oct 27, 2020 @ 11:03 AM

One of the best parts of our annual Breakthrough Conference is getting our Rhythm community together to live our core values of Keep Smart, Be Appreciative, Family is a Blessing, No TDC (Thinly Disguised Contempt) and Go the Second Mile. This year’s conference looked considerably different—while we weren’t able to showcase our southern hospitality by having our guests come to Charlotte and enjoy time together in person, we did have an amazing virtual learning experience last week.

Our first virtual conference was a whirlwind of amazing content, and I’ll be thinking about some of the presentations for a long time to come! We heard from amazing speakers and learned a ton from the attendees, as well. In the spirit of our Keep Smart core value, I’m here to share some of our audience’s key takeaways.

The Psychology of Goal Setting & Why You Can't Skip Planning

Jessica Wishart Thu, Oct 8, 2020 @ 11:03 AM

Many companies are tempted to power through the end of the year and see what happens. That approach could prove catastrophic for your business. Your people need to set goals for themselves; you can’t skip the planning process and hope to end 2020 successfully. As we head into 2020, be sure to slow down and engage in a team planning process to set goals together or you risk squandering focus and engagement in addition to missing the opportunity to end a difficult year on top.

How to Facilitate A Strategic Planning Session (Even a Virtual Strategy Session)

Ted Skinner Wed, Sep 30, 2020 @ 11:03 AM

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.

Strategic Planning Tips: 17 Tips to Create a Winning Strategic Plan

Alan Gehringer Wed, Sep 30, 2020 @ 10:57 AM

So, you had a great planning session with your team. Everybody left the 3-day session pumped up and ready to hit your targets for the year and move the company one step closer to achieving your Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) and other long term strategic goals. You've done the strategy work extremely well?  What could possibly go wrong?

Unfortunately, even with everyone’s good intentions, running the day-to-day business can get in the way of making progress on your annual and quarterly rocks if you are not intentional about your execution or operation planning of all of your important projects to help you achieve your vision.  These strategic planning tips should help you execute on your 3 year strategic plan while keeping track of your day to day activities.  As the experts in mid market planning facilitation we are often asked for our best strategic planning advice, so here you go!