Prepare, Practice, Plan

Data is the backbone to any strong action plan. Are you making the right decisions using the right information? Use these tips to begin critically thinking about how you use your data in actional planning:

  1. Plan backwards.

    Ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve by the end of the year, how am I going to monitor my progress, and what are the highest leverages and actions I can take to get there?” We recommend you start with annual results. Then, think about how you’ll monitor progress and specific actions you’ll take. Decide who owns what and what cascades to others, at the start. It is also important to pin-point and put a name on where responsibility lies.

  2. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

    Sometimes when we are using all that data to action plan, we can get stressed over wondering if we picked the right measure and if that measure is most ideal for what we want to achieve. Most often, there is not one single right measure. The “right measures” are often the best available. Over time, you may find better measures.

  3. Draft a list of things to “Stop doing/ Keep doing/ Start doing.”

    Sometimes we can wallow in the data for so long that we lose the opportunity to action plan.  Once you settle on the data or measures you’re going to use, it can be tempting to keep adding things to do and what we think will help us achieve that goal. Limit your “start doing.” Here, it is valuable to use and rely on the concept of the 20/80 principle. 20% of your actions are the highest leverage ones that will earn you 80% of your results. We really need to think strategically about the actions that fit into the 20%. These are the kind that make you think, “I can’t finish my day without doing this.”

  4. Hold the first 90 days tightly. Loosen up on the next 90 days.

    After the first 90 days of a new phase of learning and leading, you will want to adjust. In our world of continuous change, it is important that we are holding the next 90 days loosely and anticipating adjustments.

  5. Validate your actions.

    Be able to answer, “How will I know if I implement?” Then, schedule yourself a “dipstick” about 45 days in to check that you have begun your new action(s).

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datastrategies for reflection and planning