It is that time again. I am working with my clients to help create quarterly execution plans with their top quarterly rocks so they can accomplish the goals they set out to achieve. Working with one of my newer clients recently, I noticed we spent a lot of time covering how Company, Group, and Personal Priorities work together to significantly increase their chance of success. I realized that a few of our long-standing customers may have some of the same questions but didn’t want to ask. I thought I would take some time to help clarify how each of these pieces works together in your execution-ready quarterly plan. This blog includes quarterly rock examples for you to use as a template to create your own priorities for the next 90 days. Business owners set a 1 year plan with their team, work with team leaders to set processes for day to day operations.
Let’s start with the highest level, Company Priorities or quarterly rocks at the company level. These are the top 3-5 things that are most important for the entire company to achieve during the upcoming 13-Week Race. These are very specific priorities that will move the company forward in achieving annual goals or improving Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). As an example, let’s say one of the Company Priorities is to “Increase Revenue 10% from the previous quarter to a total of $10 million.” This is a very high-level strategic rock that will likely require time, energy and resources from multiple departments in the organization, like Marketing, Sales, Operations, Finance, and Customer Service. Quarterly rocks are due in 90 days, so that you can break a larger project down into more easily digestible projects with clear deliverables and timelines.
That’s where Team Priorities come in, often called departmental quarterly rocks. Although groups can be set up many ways, for the sake of our example, let’s say these groups are all functional departments. Proper company planning will allow each of these departments to consider their team’s role in successfully supporting the Company Priorities first. In this example, the Sales team knows they must increase the number of sales opportunities they’re actively working on in order to increase Revenue. So they set up a Group Priority to “Increase Outstanding Qualified Proposals.” They believe that in order to increase Revenue by 10%, they must increase Qualified Proposals by 15%, so they set that as their Green goal. They know if they only increase their Qualified Proposals by 5%, they have a very poor chance of meeting their target, so they set that as their Red criteria. And to stretch the A-players, they set a SuperGreen goal of 20%.
Group Priorities that support a Company Priority, like this example, are linked together in the Rhythm strategy execution software for increased visibility, alignment, and accountability. This linking allows the management team the ability to get a bird's eye view of how their Company Priority is doing as they can see progress on all of the priorities linked to it with a simple click. Linking allows the management team to see if a Group Priority is off track and might need some additional support or if it’s performing ahead of plan. When you establish your rocks with clear action items you move the business towards its goals in every weekly meeting and creating team alignment.
Let’s go back to our example. In the subsequent Marketing Group planning session, they plan to support this Company Priority with an aggressive email marketing campaign to prospects already in their sales funnel. They work together to come up with the appropriate Red-Yellow-Green criteria surrounding the amount of engagement they need on the email to increase sales activity. The Operations team realizes they will need to be prepared to ship 10% more product out the door with the same number of people. They create a priority for their group to begin using electronic shipping labels to save time and increase accuracy when filling the orders. In Rhythm, it is easy for team leaders to see how each of the department’s Group Priorities line up to support the Company’s #1 rock of Increasing Quarterly Revenue by 10% as targeted by the leadership team.
Now each of those departments must determine the specific steps individuals on the team will take to complete the Group Priorities. This is where SMART (specific, measurable, attainable and realistic) Personal Rocks (individual priorities) come in. These are the actions that each team member commits to and is held accountable for to move the overall Group and Company Priorities forward. Individual Priorities for the sales team might include John’s priority to increase the number of phone calls he makes in order to get the necessary opportunities to send out proposals. Meanwhile, Jane on the sales team thinks she needs to make additional cold calls in order to get more proposals out the door to help increase revenue. Each of these Individual Priorities supports the Sales Group Priority to increase the number of proposals outstanding, which in turn supports the Company Priority of increasing revenue.
Certain Individual Priorities or personal rocks can be linked directly to the Company Priority without the additional layer of a Group Priority. As an example, the COO might create an Individual Priority to directly increase revenue by reducing the churn rate. The CEO believes he can contribute by directly reaching out to their top clients to uncover unmet needs. These examples will be executed by specific individuals and do not need to be assigned to a Group. They can be linked directly to the Company Priority.
Aligning the energy in your company around the Company’s Priorities by cascading your Quarterly Plan will ensure that everyone is working on the most important things first. Having a hard time visualizing how all of this fits together? Use our handy dandy infographic to see how these priorities fit into the Rhythm software for Scaling Up: Rockefeller Habits 2.0.
Want to learn more about Quarterly Planning? Check out these additional quarterly planning resources:
Rhythm Systems Quarterly Planning Resource Center
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