Can you believe we are already approaching Q4 of 2021? Earlier this year, we touched on the power that comes from working in a 90-day world, but as we wrap up this year, let’s take it a step further and really consider and see how this can apply in quarterly planning. Working in 90-day increments requires planning in 90-day increments. One of the most important things you can do is touch base with your leadership team every quarter and ensure you’re on the same page working towards the same goals.
If you think quarterly planning sessions are all fluff and just a waste of everyone’s time, you’re just not doing them right.
A strategic quarterly planning session could very well be the missing ingredient to your company’s success. They don’t just ensure everyone feels heard and understood, but they keep things in true alignment which is essential to running a successful organization.
EOS Founder and Author of Traction Gino Wickman says, “Your Leadership Team coming together every 90 days to dust yourselves off from the previous quarter, get on the same page, solve Issues and plan for the next 90 days creates a “90 day world” for your company that helps you avoid “the fray” that occurs when your leadership team doesn’t meet every 90 days. “The fray” is when you get off track, get disconnected, lose focus and start to scatter. Ninety days is about as long as humans can focus, which is why “the fray” starts right around the 90-day mark.”
There is power in the 90-day world.
Whether or not you’ve tried holding streamlined, intentional quarterly sessions before, below I am sharing with you my Quarterly Planning Session System that I’ve seen work time and time again. This will be an all-day affair but after you cover the detailed topics I’m about to list out, you’ll see how the time spent was well worth it. Let’s dive right in.
Here’s a plan for your Whole-Day Quarterly Planning Session
The first thing to remember is your objectives for the day are more important than the agenda. Your objectives should be:
- A Clear Vision – make sure everyone is on the same page.
- A Clear Plan for the next quarter – who is doing what and when.
- Resolve Key Issues – and resolve them for good so they do not come back.
As for the agenda, here is a sample:
STEP ONE: Review the prior quarter
First, acknowledge where you’re currently at with last quarter’s efforts. Allow everyone on your leadership team to chime in and share their progress, comments, questions, and concerns.
STEP TWO: Celebrate past accomplishments
It’s important to go over what’s going right in your organization and what you all have accomplished. This establishes a positive energy to carry on throughout the rest of the meeting. We look at the tasks checked off and goals hit then we move on to what’s next. It is critical to truly take time to be grateful and proud of what you’ve made happen individually and collectively.
STEP THREE: Discuss where you can improve
Now that you’ve set the tone and aligned the conversation, it’s time to go over the areas within your organization that could use improvement. Without suggesting solutions just yet, create an open dialogue around your company’s weaknesses, pain points, and/or challenges. Also, use this time to look at the goals you set last quarter. What didn’t get done and why? Were the goals not SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, or Time-bound)? After you’ve discussed this openly and in-depth, then you must decide what to do with the things that didn’t get done. Are they tasks for next quarter? Are they still relevant? Should they go on the list for future quarters? How can you improve goal setting to make sure they do get done in the future?
STEP FOUR: VTO – Vision Traction Organizer Review
As I’ve mentioned over and over again, clarity is KEY when it comes to creating a highly productive and effective team. Review your Vision, Mission, Values, your one-year plan, and the long-range goals you have established. This reminds everyone of the lenses that all decisions made today will need to be made through.
STEP FIVE: Set next quarter’s rocks (goals)
Now that you’ve covered what’s been successfully completed and what is needing improvement, you can begin to adequately set your priorities (AKA: rocks) for the following quarter. This is finding solutions in a strategic way. Waiting to have this conversation until later in the meeting is essential to the overall success of your conversation. Remember if everything is important, then nothing is important. Choose 3-5 rocks for the quarter and make sure they are SMART and have an owner.
STEP SIX: Clean up all issues
Lastly, review your entire Issues list. Remove things or add them as needed. Then use the proven IDS (Identify, Discuss, Solve) process for issue solving. Make sure each issue you tackle ends up with a clear task to be accomplished to solve it with an owner responsible and a due date. Most meetings are full of discussion of an issue with everyone sharing opinions and venting. However, if you notice, nothing is usually solved with clarity. You think you’ve accomplished something because you had such a great discussion, but it is ambiguous and no one knows what decision was made or who is doing what to solve the issue for good.
Try it Out
Now it’s up to you to try it out with your team! One way to definitely ensure your quarterly meetings stay on track is by bringing in a skilled facilitator. Consider hiring me to lead your meetings and ensure everyone gets heard and action items get done.
When preparing for a Quarterly Conversation™ with each of your direct reports, get specific on leadership and management skills by sending them a Leadership, Management, & Accountability questionnaire once per year. Have them answer how you are doing for each of the questions as well as assessing your own performance. Follow that up with a Quarterly Conversation with them, and together, IDS™ how you can get to all Yeses. It’s a powerful conversation.