With a new year, comes a new plan. Planning is a great way to review and reflect on individual progress and progress within the organization. However, planning can be a waste of time unless we are using it to continuously review progress, or what we call short-cycle planning.
Short-cycle planning is an opportune time for leaders to review progress measures and assess how well the strategic actions are working. The greatest value of planning rests with how leaders approach short-cycle planning. In Maximize Performance, authors Quint Studer and Janet Pilcher recommend 60- to 75-day planning cycles because every day within that 60-day window counts.
It is vital to have weekly debriefs with teams trending in both directions. These debriefs do not need to be long. A 20- to 30-minute debrief session work well as long as leaders give team members the chance to speak.
Here’s the point to remember: every day counts! If we don’t have a process for reviewing our goals and evidence showing our progress along the way, too many days will get away from us.
8 quick tips on short-cycle planning:
- Determine how progress monitoring measures align with weekly progress toward measurable goals.
- Use the results to help you decide on strategies.
- Use results on the progress monitoring measures to report at the end of a short cycle.
- Create a Stoplight Report (green-yellow-red assessment) for each goal.
- Describe areas that are working well and look for what’s causing improvement.
- Describe areas not hitting the target and find out why they’re not.
- Determine if, or how, areas need adjusting.
- Define the next short-cycle priorities and focused measures.
The short-cycle planning process shows where we need to focus our efforts and it highlights leadership gaps. The most successful leaders have a strong desire to adjust plans when needed and engage in development opportunities to make them better leaders.
How can you, as a leader, apply short-cycle planning to prepare for the next year and strengthen your organization?