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By Robert Fish
Does your company have a proven and repeatable Annual Planning process that is used and referenced throughout the year? Does the full company BELIEVE in the plan and know how they individually contribute to make it a reality? Does your Annual Plan create simple but powerful strategies and direction? Even if you said ‘yes’ to the above, does your leadership team run out of steam half way through the year?
As a serial Entrepreneur, Gazelles Certified Coach and Professional level mountain bike racer, I have learned one very powerful thing. Often, the best way to have a strong finish is to start at the beginning. If I want to have a strong finish at mountain bike Pro Nationals, my ‘start at the beginning’ means lots of long easy and slow miles on the bike in the off season. This is my base. I can only layer in intensity to my training in direct relation to the size of my base I create… think the base of a pyramid.
My fitness pyramid will only be as high (peak performance) as my ‘base’ is wide. From a business perspective in relation to Annual Planning, the base of the pyramid is review, and re-commitment to Core Ideologies such as Core Values, Core Purpose and the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal).
Want your company to reach peak performance, engage your people, execute without drama, and turn revenue into real profit and cash? Start at the beginning!!! A common mistake during Annual Planning is trying to start in the middle with goals and priorities. A good plan on paper may be possible, but the team will not reach peak performance during the year.
Focusing on Core Ideologies at the beginning of Annual Planning gives your team CLARITY on why they are doing what they are doing and MEANING on why it’s important. Developing a simple set of rules and guidelines that people believe in creates the engine or batteries that will help carry the plan through the year. Developing a plan around revenue and profit alone just does not work in most cases. There is not enough emotional connection to carry through the rough patches. The team needs to physically connect with the Goals and Priorities for the year, and why it’s important to make them happen.
Think about the power of creating a Core Ideology driven Operating System for your team during Annual and Quarterly Planning. There are two major outcomes by creating this:
1) Strategy development (things that drive revenue) becomes simpler because it’s easier to decide WHAT NOT TO DO. Does the proposed strategy idea accelerate our BHAG or does it pull us away? Any strategy that violates any of the Core Ideologies is not a good and SUSTAINABLE strategy. They fail.
2) Scale Up faster by better alignment of resources. By aligning strategy with Core Ideologies, and eliminating projects that conflict, your team will not be fighting over resources during the year. One common mistake many companies make (and they never know this is the reason) is the annual priority stack which pulls resources in opposite directions. The CEO thinks the team is in alignment because of the agreement on the annual plan. But the plan itself (not the people) pulls the company apart and makes execution and profit very difficult. It’s important during annual planning that the priorities build on each other and do not compete for resources. There are other methods to aligning resources but always start with Core Ideologies first.
The fastest way to Scale Up your business and reach Peak Performance is to slow down at the beginning of Annual Planning and get the Core Ideologies dialed-in and re-engaged 100%. Everything through the execution phase of the plan will be easier and faster as a result.
When is the best time to start Annual Planning? Now!!! Especially if any of the Core Ideologies are in question, are missing, or your leadership team is not 100% on board with them. You’ll also give your team a running start into the new year and you’ll have a chance to address potential issues that might prevent success in advance.