Plans that are not monitored and updated gradually become irrelevant, leaving your business rudderless, rather like driving in an outback region without a map or GPS. Progress only comes from experiential trial and error, rather than design.
Now that the first quarter 2018 has ended, it's time for a reality check of this year’s annual plan.
It’s important for your management team to look closely at that plan quarterly, tweak it where appropriate, and carry on for the next quarter. Ninety-day cycles or sprints are widely accepted as appropriate for short-term goal-setting, providing you with enough time to make substantive progress while keeping the due dates in focus.
Review Vision and Focus. The overall direction and mission of your business should not need updating on a quarterly basis. But it is useful to remind yourself frequently about why you are in this business, who are your customers, and what is your core focus. This will help keep you aligned with your big picture.
Confirm Goals for the Year The goals you set at the beginning of the year may no longer be entirely relevant now that you have been through the first three months. Look at your goals as part of your plan and celebrate those that have been met. Of the remainder, identify those that should be modified or even deleted, and make the appropriate adjustments. Decide whether any new goals should be added. You now have an updated set of goals for the remainder of the year.
Review Rocks for the past Quarter. Rocks are those 4-7 things that you set as the top priorities for the quarter. Review each of the rocks from the past quarter and celebrate success with your team for those that were met. Identify any that are no longer relevant and delete them. For the remainder, identify what prevented the rocks from being achieved and take appropriate action to improve the probability of success for the next quarter.
This could include modifying or re-aligning responsibility for some rocks. Finally, look at your updated goals and define any new rocks that should be added for the coming quarter. You now have an updated set of rocks for the next quarter.
Set Tasks for the next Month. Set the tasks that you and your team must complete within the next month in order to make satisfactory progress toward next quarter's rocks.
Carry On. Check at the monthly management meetings for the next two months on the tasks that have been assigned to the team, to ensure alignment, relevance, and progress. Adjust tasks and rocks as necessary. Set tasks for the next month.
You should complete a similar quarterly review at the end of the second and third quarters. Do the same at the end of the fourth quarter, reviewing your vision and focus in more detail at that time. Prepare a new annual plan for next year.
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