‘Tis the Season – Planning the Year ahead
|In a few weeks it is Easter – the first ‘major’ holiday week of the year. While everyone is looking to some well-earned time off it is the perfect time for the small business owner to do some long-term planning. After all, everyone has a broken work schedule for the week, and possibly next, too. While everyone is relaxed, and can think in a much more expansive way, it’s time to call a Planning Meeting. By programming these during the four major Holiday weeks: Easter, July 4, Thanksgiving and Christmas you will be able to gather everyone’s thoughts on planning for the next quarter, what has worked in the last and long term planning for the next year.
While this sounds like a reason for an argumentative free-for-all, some simple planning steps on your behalf can smooth the way, and ensure that everyone is thinking of the Business, and not just their role in it. The result may also mean actioning ideas that will further engage employees to the business, because you will be auctioning ideas that they feel is theirs.
Whether you are able to make this an entire ‘round-table’ day of planning, or a series of one-on-one interviews the overall path is the same: This is your chance to think in a Macro fashion about what is happening – in turn it makes all of the Micro decisions you have to make on a daily basis much easier to understand and track. It also sets up a planning calendar where you can measure progress and results of all initiatives, be they one quarter in length, or tailored for annual outcomes.
This is your day to ask ‘Where are we, What if, and Why not’ – or perhaps just ‘Why’! Don’t worry about tough questions, new opportunities, and embrace changes, but be prepared to leave with a list of jobs, priorities, course changes and equipment requests that will probably change what you are doing right now, and how. It may even change your company’s future! It may be one of the most exciting and exhausting days of your year, but it’s a practice that we suggest every business, no matter the size, commit to doing.
Here are a few suggestions for you to use as a starting point that will help all businesses become more efficient and profitable:
The amount of small details we have to deal with onside a business culture can lead to ‘Paralysis by Analysis’. Identify no more than three priority objectives for the year that result in you aiming higher and stop sending time on low priorities.
Tracking results for ongoing projects can easily be sidetracked. By creating a list of “what we gain” if we win and by contrast “what is costs” if we lose, we create the motivation to overcome distractions and stay focused on results that matter.
Commit to Change
Strategy without change is worthless. If you ask “What needs to change in order for us to actually do this?” the answer will be a simple Yes or No.
Every objective will naturally spin off a list of projects: The things that need to be done, the new products, the new positions, or the new processes. Identify these projects and assigning an owner to each. After all, this was introduced by someone – at least in part – so make them the one that cares the most about the project and carries the responsibility of moving it forward.
Focus on High Payoff
Identify the highest payoff work for everyone in the organization. This is how you properly assign tasks, and stay focused on what matters most. The three or four high payoff tasks will differ for everyone in the organization, but they become a “go to” as you plan ahead Quarterly and Yearly.
The One Page Plan
Finally, take our goals you need to reach and projects that all have identified to reach them, and align them on one page each in support of the proper top-line objective. Assign each project an owner and charge that person with assembling the team, resources and plan for tackling the project related tasks.
When it comes to keeping our entire business focused on what matters most this is the most important day our organization has in search of day-to-day alignment and focus. Take those broken weeks of holiday work, and ignite your business with simple, clean planning tasks that will move your business forward and engage your workforce.