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Three Good Habits to Keep Your Plan on Track

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Three good habits to keep your plan on track

Who doesn’t love a good old strategy session? You get the executive team together for a day or two. Maybe an overnight stay and a few bottles of vino to celebrate all the hard work. You’ve bonded, you’re pumped. And then what?

So many companies fail to deliver on the promises of the annual planning day. It’s not unusual. You need to create a culture of discipline to stay focussed on your big vision. And that requires alignment with the team on the main goals, clarity and foresight as to how you are actually performing, and improved communications to enable better and faster decision making.

 
To take that further let me share with you three habits to improve the follow through on your planning day, based on the Rockefeller Habits Checklist from the Scaling Up methodology, used by more than 40,000 executives around the world.

 

1.Priorities

 

The great, late Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, famously noted:

 

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

 

Post your planning day it is paramount you all end up knowing what your “main thing” is. Both for the company and yourselves.

 

To help in starting this process business guru Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, writes about the need to have one Big Hairy Audacious (BHAG™) goal. Where do we want to be in 10 to 25 years’ time? The Scaling Up process builds on that same premise. How do we get alignment between what we are working on today, the next 90 days, in the next year, the year after that and then beyond?

 

First step is to be very clear about where you are headed - what might be your BHAG™?

 

Once you have identified where it is you are heading then in the planning day you should aim to build the road map of how you plan to get there. Given your BHAG™ may well be audacious, hopefully a ‘stretch’ but certainly inspirational for the team you need to map out what your main things need to be so you all get a sense of how you can aim for it with confidence.
 
By the end of your planning day you need to have connected your BHAG™ with where you are planning to get to in three years time, one year, and the next 90 days. Once the company ‘Road map’ has been articulated it is then time for each person in the room to identify what their personal priorities need to be in the next 90 days to play their part in delivering on the main thing.

 

Now here’s the thing, it is all well and good having a clearly articulated plan it is then essential to track how you are going executing it post the planning day. Which brings us to ...

 

2.Data
 
Making sure the team has visibility to qualitative and quantitative feedback, linked to the priorities, providing them with clarity and the ability to look forward from an informed perspective.

 

It’s easy to measure lagging indicators such as current revenue. What is far more useful, however, is to look for leading indicators so that you can react sooner. Take, for example, DemandWave – a B2B Digital Marketing Agency. They were growing nicely and measuring the number of deals they were securing each month, but by the time they were able to measure their sales it was too late to improve it for that particular month. Their sales cycle typically being a couple of months. This is what’s known as a lagging indicator.

 

DemandWave needed a better predictive indicator to be able to measure what sales would be in the near future.
 
To do this they developed the measurement of forms completed on their website – that is, interested potential customers could register for a webinar, download a white paper, or other web-based activities that would be an indicator to DemandWave of intent to purchase. They developed a ratio over time that was predictive of the number of form fillouts (leading indicator) necessary each month to drive the number of sales orders (lagging indicator). This, in conjunction with knowing their sales cycle in days, made sales a much more scientific, predictive process, which in turn helped predict cash flow and thus made growth more manageable.

 

Can you flip the way the way you do data? What might be your leading indicators?

 

So we have clarity on our main thing, we are measuring performance to the plan well, Now we need to ensure communication is operating at a level that ensures we can make quick, decisive adjustments to succeed ...

 

3.Meeting Rhythm
 
 
 
 
Verne Harnish, author of Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make it…and Why the Rest Don’t and founder of the Young Entrepreneurs’ Organisation (YPO), now known as Entrepreuneurs’ Organisation (EO), says

 

to move faster, pulse faster. At the heart of a team’s performance is a rhythm of well-run daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual meetings.

And yet most people complain that the last thing they want are more meetings.  The Scaling Up process counter-intuitively advises that meeting regularly leads to better and faster decisions. It actually increases efficiency and effectiveness when done right.

 
This rhythm of meetings cascades communication throughout the organisation around priorities and delivers the metrics to efficiently execute your strategy. Essentially this provides visibility to the ‘main thing’ with:

 

Annual

sets the strategic direction and priorities for the year and beyond

Quarterly

breaks these longer term priorities into bite-sized priorities that the company can digest

Monthly

addresses the bigger issues or opportunities that surface around the strategic direction

Weekly

keeps the priorities top of mind and drives discussions around input from customers, employees and competitors which feeds back into the quarterly and annual planning process

Daily

tracks progress and brings out sticking points that are blocking execution of the strategic direction

     

    So there you have it; know your main thing, track qualitative and quantitate data to measure progress and communicate really well and often.  

    Would love to know what you have found to be the most effective ways to get the most out of your planning days and look forward to joining the conversation in the comments below.

     

    KEEP SCALING!
    So what might you do now?

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    Reference

    Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make it...and Why the Rest Don't

    Verne Harnish

     

    IMAGES SOURCED FROM WWW.SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

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