1: “Planning is 1 percent of the effort; execution is the other 99 percent,” write Mark Moses and his co-authors in Making Big Happen.

Once we’ve created our annual plan and communicated it across the company, our next task is critical: We must create a culture of accountability across the organization.

Which is what the Make Big Happen framework is all about.  “Before we adopted the Make Big Happen System, we thought we were doing an admirable job of strategic planning, meeting each year to define our goals,” says Fluid Life CEO Heather Nichols.  “In retrospect, however, we never really challenged ourselves, we didn’t have consistent follow-through, and we lacked a process to hold ourselves accountable.”

“The Make Big Happen System is a disciplined framework of annual, quarterly, and weekly meetings, with tightly defined goals and initiatives represented by who/what/whens,” the authors note.  

What happens when we follow the framework consistently over time?  We create a culture of accountability across our organization.

2: We begin by scheduling four Quarterly Alignment Sessions.  We take our annual goals and break them into the four quarters of the upcoming year.  This “stacking of steps” by making progress each quarter is how BIG things get done and how we benefit from compounding.

We start each quarterly meeting by doing a check-in.  Each leader shares how they are doing professionally and personally.  “This is also a good time to break out the Secret Ballot [hyperlink to: How self-reflection takes strategic planning to a whole new level] we introduced in the annual planning session to uncover any misalignment.”  It’s also a great time to take a moment and refocus everyone on our core values.

3: Now, it’s time to get down to business.  We’ve prepared for each quarterly planning session just like we did for the annual meeting: By asking our leadership team to reflect on a few questions in advance of the meeting:

• What went right this quarter?

• What went wrong?

• What have we learned?

• How did we do compared to how we said we would do on our goals?

• How did we do compared to how we said we would do on the specific and measurable activities that we are keeping score on, which we said would lead us to the outcome we wanted?

• What are our most significant opportunities in the next quarter?

• What are our most significant challenges?

• What is the number one goal we could achieve that would have the biggest impact on our growth?

The goal is to “push past superficial answers and keep asking questions until we get to the root causes of any shortfalls, as well as the root activities that will drive future performance,” they write.  “Too often, we stop the conversation at ‘what went wrong’ and fail to identify the key leading activities that will drive future outcomes.”

The culture of accountability must start at the top.  “By ruthlessly holding ourselves and our leadership team accountable to the goals we set thirteen weeks ago, there is no room for excuses,” Mark and his authors write.  We must “see what progress we have made and what areas still need additional focus.”

The next step is to outline our quarterly goals and initiatives to keep us on track to achieve our annual plan.  

Our approach to this process has a twist.  We’ll cover that in tomorrow’s post.

More tomorrow!


Reflection: Does my team or organization have a “culture of accountability”?

Action: Discuss with my team or with a colleague.

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