Business planning is critical for success though it often is undervalued because it is rarely done consistently enough and with enough clarity and follow through.
In part three of my series on clarifying your company strategy, we look at how business planning for short- mid- and long-term goals can be correctly implemented and make your projects both easier to accomplish and successful. To be clear, the planning we are talking about takes place every 90 days without exception. There is a clear process for sufficient reflection on the previous 90 days while the majority of the time is spent on planning for the next 90 days.
Let’s reflect on why we should plan in the first place.
Yes, you’ve heard this a million times but how would you currently rate the quality, consistency, clarity and accountability around your business planning efforts? Most of us know we should be planning more but because it isn’t as urgent as other daily or weekly activities it often gets pushed aside. So let’s begin by evaluating why you should plan when you are already extremely busy.
Here are the top five reasons why it’s important to clearly plan and re-plan your objectives every 90 days:
Growing companies need to clearly plan and re-plan their objectives every 90 days to keep up with a rapidly changing business environment, ensure alignment with long-term vision, measure progress, adjust strategies, stay focused and motivated, and improve communication and collaboration.
Many people I work with are happy to invest in the effort of business planning but they haven’t found a way to plan that feels both valuable and consistent. Planning is a critical aspect of business success, and in this blog, we will be exploring how to plan effectively and consistently. Let’s uncover why a business planning process is both simple and effective.
The planning process has three key steps: Prepare, Plan, and Retain. Each of these steps is essential to the success of the business planning process, and when executed correctly, can help ensure that your business stays on track and achieves its goals.
Step 1: Prepare
When the company’s strategic information has been reviewed and brought to attention and the attendees have contributed their points, you are now ready to have a productive meeting.
Step 2: Your Business Planning Meeting
Although some companies may choose to have a slightly longer annual planning meeting, most business planning meetings are quarterly meetings so we will focus on that in this program.
The agenda for the business planning meeting can obviously vary from company to company and meeting to meeting. However, the basic premise should remain roughly the same. Here is the core agenda for most quarterly meetings:
It begins by clarifying what is and isn’t working within the company, along with the desired outcomes for the meeting. This helps to define the core themes for the meeting. My favourite is the early list and discussions on what are some of the current bottlenecks within the business.
The next agenda item is to review the previous quarter’s numbers and rocks, or objectives. Just having experience with a skill set or trying to obtain something doesn’t create any meaningful value or likelihood of improvement over time. Only when you add reflection into the process do you create the space to observe, contemplate and make any required adjustments. This is our time to reflect on the past performance.
This is done in two fundamental ways: First is reviewing some type of financial reports and the 90 days of the company scorecard. Discussing what worked and what didn’t helps sharpen the focus on the issues and opportunities that we will want to focus upon in greater detail later in the meeting.
The second part of the reflection process is to assess the results of the rocks, objectives or projects for the quarter. In doing so we look at four questions and have the owner of the project submit their information so we can review them together. The questions are:
The owner also has an open invitation to share any supporting documentation they’d like to cover during the review process.
The third item of the agenda is to review and remember what the company stands for and what the basic strategy is to achieve its goals.
The fourth agenda item is to identify the core objectives for the upcoming 90 days. This list of objectives is not finalised but gets to the point where it seems like they are addressing the key deliverables, opportunities and issues the company needs to address in the short term.
The next agenda item is to identify the challenges that are likely standing in the way of achieving the objectives. This is often the biggest chunk of time in the entire meeting. This is the time of the quarter when you have the right people unpacking the most important issues with a sufficient amount of time and space to get down to the nub of issues and define a clear solution strategy to resolve the issue fully.
The next to last agenda item of the meeting is to revisit the list of goals, objectives and/or rocks for the upcoming quarter, see if anything needs to be adjusted as a result of the issues discussed and to assign ownership to the items along with a “completion definition” in order that everyone is clear on what specifically is expected to be accomplished.
The final agenda item of a quarterly meeting is to review the tasks that have come from the meeting and for all the participants to rate the quality and productivity of the meeting. Like with all activities in business, there should always be a desire to identify ways to improve – even quarterly meetings!
Step 3: Affirming the Process
This retention of information and objectives shows up in the weekly meetings and will continue throughout the subsequent 90 days.
How this is done will be covered in my upcoming blog on weekly meetings.
By following the Prepare, Plan, Retain process, you can ensure that your business stays on track and achieves its goals. Remember to gather all the necessary information and data, develop a detailed plan of action, and monitor progress regularly. With these steps in place, you can take your business to the next level.
The importance of planning consistently cannot be understated.
Business Planning is a critical element of success, but it’s not always easy to be consistent with it. Consistency is key because planning isn’t a one-time event. It’s an ongoing process that requires regular attention and revision. Here are some strategies that you can use to plan consistently:
One of the easiest ways to plan consistently is to make it a habit. Set aside a specific time every 90 days for a quarterly meeting and stick to it. Make it a non-negotiable appointment.
The sheet, the final tape of your Business Operation Spreadsheet, provides you with a basic agenda and all of the different items that need to be documented and discussed. It will both help you be organised for the meeting and retain the information within the spreadsheet for quick reference.
Accountability is essential when it comes to planning consistently. Find an accountability partner who can hold you accountable and help you stay on track. If you like the idea of having someone else facilitate this process so you can r focus on the content of the meeting, please reach out to us to see how we can support business leaders in this way.
Consistent business planning is critical to achieving your goals. By setting aside a specific time for planning, using a planner or business planning software, breaking down your goals into smaller tasks, holding yourself accountable, and celebrating your successes, you can create a habit of planning consistently.
Remember, business planning is not a one-time event. It’s an ongoing process that requires regular attention and revision. Consistent planning will help you stay on track and achieve your business goals.
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