Having recently completed several quarterly planning meetings I thought I would share the four purposes for doing Quarterly Planning. In my upcoming October newsletter I’ll be reviewing some of the results my clients have achieved through their efforts to do effective Quarterly Plans. You can access many of Positioning Systems previous newsletters here.
What does a quarterly meeting look like and what’s the purpose of having one each quarter, preferably just before previous quarter is about to end.
1) To review your results from the previous quarter;
This portion of the meeting includes looking at what you and your people achieved. Celebrate your victories and brag on others that achieved success in the quarter. There’s nothing more exhilarating that pumping up each other and recognizing what’s been accomplished. Too often one day flows into the next, we never take enough time to glorify and praise or even realize how much we’ve accomplished. We also then take time to discuss “What Did We Learn.” Here again these lessons can provide dramatic impact on the quarter ahead as well as teaching points to others in the leadership team. Any review of the previous quarter includes looking at the company and individual leadership team’s dashboards. Where did we succeed, where did we come up short and why.
2) To check in on your company’s cultural health and team performance;
Here we look at a variety of Rockefeller Habits tools including the Rockefeller Habits Checklist, Core Values, Core Purpose, customer and employee feedback or surveys as well as the health of the leadership team and particularly review the performance of each leadership team in terms of improving the number of “A” players(Topgrading). Reviewing the Rockefeller Habits Checklist should be an exercise at least semi-annually. Reviewing your Core Values to discover employees who have lived them and develop stories/legends about their behavior is a solid path to making sure your Core Values remain alive and dynamic in your organization. An excellent tool for discovering your Company’s organizational health is Patrick Lencioni’s The Advantage Organizational Health Quiz. It’s free! Another exercise to build organizational health and particularly strength in getting results in your leadership team is The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. It’s a five step process which as a conducting Gazelles’ coach I have found identifies where your leadership team needs to improve in order to achieve the results your company wants.
3) To participate in Executive Education to keep you sharp and new ideas flowing to grow the business;
Too many companies pay lip service to education. Gazelles.com provides a number of resources to offer education for your executive team including on line courses and seminars. As Gazelles coaches I’m often called upon to deliver a presentation on a new book or best practices. Frequently this portion is dedicated to review and help complete a portion of our One Page Strategic Plan on a subject like X-Factor, Brand Promise or Profit per X or perhaps another element of the Four Decisions. It could be there’s an important development in your industry, new software, or supply chain that needs to be discussed and understood. Too often education and learning play a background role, never get the attention deserved, and our efforts in the field fail. Don’t allow your leadership team to be without the competitive edge of learning and education.
4) To plan your next successful quarter.
Of course this is the most critical aspect of quarterly planning, to plan for the next quarter. This process is made much easier when the company has previously done an annual plan. In my meetings with clients we always review the company’s 3-5 year plan as well as their annual plan. By the fourth quarter often times there are only a few stragglers left on the annual priorities list that haven’t been given the attention they are due and need to be focused on in order to achieve all the expected results. Of course having the listing of priorities for the annual plan to review each quarter makes it easier to choose what to focus on for each quarter. One Thing should have been chosen as the dominate focus for the year. If the company hasn’t achieved or is close to achieving this by 4th quarter, it’s a good idea to put all hands on deck to secure success. Each quarter you should also choose One Thing to focus on for that quarter. Plans can change, and there’s nothing more frustrating or disruptive to recognize in a quarterly planning meeting that a ripple in your industry, a competitor merging or buying out another competitor requires changing your quarter if not your annual plan. That’s exactly why these quarterly meetings are so critical. As Michael Gerber noted, “Businesses that plan always do better than businesses that don’t. But business that change their plans are always more successful than businesses that plan but don’t change them.” For further proof of the value of changing your plans read Without A Plan: Expect 40% Less and Software Firm Thrives With Customer Service Focus which documents one of my clients changing their annual plan in the 2nd quarter resulting in a 35% increase in sales and 50% improvement in profits.
If we achieve these four objectives in our quarterly planning meetings, rest assured it will be a very successful day spent together and project success for the next quarter as well.
The results from the biopsy last week that I received today offered some encouraging news. Hope to have an update for you on this tomorrow or Friday that keys to strategic discipline and growing your business.