How many times have you lived through it? Late in the year, you are gathered with cohorts to build a business plan for the following year. Your team invests many hours of thoughtful time strategizing and developing a detailed plan. Everyone is tired but optimistic that the plan will lead to a big year.
12 months later, you gather again. You dust off the plan (which hasn’t been referenced all year long) to see how you did! Lo and Behold, you didn’t get most of the strategic objectives completed.
What’s happening here? You’re all smart, hard-working people who are effective in many other areas. The problem is that your planning system is missing important steps.
The most important part of a plan isn’t the strategy section; it’s the execution section. What is the Plan to Execute? We have found that getting hyper-granular with execution is the key to actual progress. Let’s demonstrate with an example.
Your number one plan for 2017 is to develop an e-commerce site to sell your widgets online. Your plan outlines the target market, the messaging, price points, operations setup, etc. Nice Start. Now to the important stuff. What is the execution plan for Quarter 1 (first step in getting granular)? Perhaps the biggest objective for Q1 is to hire a web design firm. Good objective. Now let’s get more granular. What are the individual tasks required to hire a firm? Develop a list of criteria that you desire in the firm. Develop a list of candidates. Develop a list of interview questions and other steps to assess each candidate. Interview candidates. Make a selection. Negotiate a contract. Good. Now we have tasks. Who is the accountable person for each task? What is the due date for each task? How often will the team meet to review progress and adjust the plan if necessary (We suggest at least monthly)?
The tasks listed above could all be broken down into smaller tasks by the accountable person, but you get the point. By creating a plan in which each team member can review his task list every day to know what he or she must execute on, with an assigned due date, the plan becomes concrete rather than abstract.
We facilitate an annual and quarterly planning process with our clients. We have found that the execution on those plans increases significantly if each objective is broken into tasks as suggested above.
Why does planning fail? Because it doesn’t get granular. How can your planning succeed? Get granular!