6 Steps to Creating More Ownership of Your Annual Plan

November 17, 2017

Is your executive team able to spend less time in day-to-day execution and more time on growth and strategic planning? High performance senior leadership teams have discovered the secret to developing a successful Annual Planning – the Pre-Annual Planning Accelerator Session, which brings together your middle management with emerging leaders to get their input and buy in while training and developing them in collaborative business planning.

The collaborative session, working in small groups, provides frontline feedback and perspective to the senior team on your 2018 Annual Plan. The 6 steps in the process are:

1.     Conduct a detailed, sequential, brutally honest 2017 SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) facilitated exercise.  Look internally for Strengths and Weaknesses and externally for Opportunities and Threats. Also identify a small number of activities that you can either start or stop doing to address each.

2.     Core Values – Are they alive and well? Who exemplifies them? Is there a Value we need to refocus on? 

3.     Top 3–5 Priorities for 2018 – Can you agree on the small number of right priorities that will move the company forward for the upcoming year? Write your priorities so they are SMART: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, time bound. Also, remember the “less is more” rule. The less you have, the more time you can spend focusing and executing on them.

4.     Start, Stop, Keep – What do we need to start doing, stop doing, and keep doing to make our company more efficient, effective and/or productive? Any start and stop doing from the above SWOT analysis can also be used here.

5.     An executive briefing to the senior team on each of the items above, with interactive discussion among participants prior to the start of the 2018 Planning Meetings. This is a vital step in a successful annual planning process for a growth company, plus a key learning opportunity for the middle managers and emerging leaders to get exposure to thinking at a higher level.

6.     A post-session “team time” for further team and relationship development.

The Pre-Annual Planning Accelerator Session, when done rigorously and intentionally, can lead to breakthrough growth ideas and actions.

Additionally, a conscientious Pre-Annual Planning Accelerator Session will produce an energized group of middle management and emerging leaders who have contributed to your Annual Plan; greater ownership of your Annual Plan among middle management and emerging leaders and their teams; and more senior leadership time spent working “on the business” rather than “in the business.”