1: “Too many companies never take a moment to nail down what they learned and, as a result, are doomed to repeat mistakes or let up on what has been working,” write Mark Moses, Craig Coleman, Chris Larkins, and Don Schiavone in Making Big Happen: Applying The Make Big Happen System to Grow Big.

This week, we’ve been looking at the critical importance of an annual planning meeting. So far, we’ve looked at how to prepare and start the meeting

Once the ground rules have been established, and the ice breaker is complete, it’s time to get down to business. The first “working section” of the annual planning agenda is reviewing the past twelve months. All leadership team members will have completed the pre-work outlined in the preparation phase. All of the answers will have been compiled and distributed before the meeting.  

“As you review the pre-work, what pops out? What patterns are apparent? What is becoming clear?” the authors ask. “Even though it is in the rearview mirror, take time to review how you did compared to how you said you would do. On a scale of one to ten, how well did you execute on last year’s plan?”

Our goal is to crystallize the critical lessons learned to avoid repeating mistakes and double down on what is working. 

2: Another exercise that will generate conversation and insights about the current level of performance is the “Secret Ballot.” This tool is outlined in Making Big Happen and seeks to uncover areas of misalignment across the leadership team. This exercise can be added to the pre-work detailed on Monday. Members of the leadership team anonymously submit their answers to the following questions:  

o On a scale of one to ten, how well do we communicate our vision?

o On a scale of one to ten, how well do we live our core values? 

o On a scale of one to ten, how satisfied am I with my current position? 

o On a scale of one to ten, how strong is our leadership team (or another team)? 

o On a scale of one to ten, how likely are we to succeed at our strategy?  

o On a scale of one to ten, how well do we internally communicate as a company? 

o What is our “weakest link” or Achilles heel?

o What is the #1 problem we need to address right now?

o Is there something that we are “ignoring the obvious” about?

3: Another tool from Making Big Happen which can generate “aha moments” is the “3 Provocative Questions” exercise. Once again, we can distribute this exercise as part of the pre-work that the leadership team prepares. With this tool, we imagine if we are starting a new company to compete with our current company.

We ask:

1: What am I doing now that I would stop doing in my new company?

2: What am I not doing that I would start doing in my new company?

3: How would I compete to try to put my old company out of business?

The authors share a story from one of their clients: “After staring at what they designed on the whiteboard at the front of the room, the consensus was, ‘That’s pretty cool. We want that company instead of the one we have,’ they write. “The exercise resulted in a full reimagination and reinvention of the business.”

More tomorrow!


Reflection: Do I have a formal process to assess my performance and that of my team and/or organization? 

Action: Have my team complete the “Secret Ballot” exercise. Discuss the results.

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