One of the biggest challenges the staffs of our business coaching clients tell us is how dizzy they are when their founder/owner changes too many things too frequently.
As one of our client’s staff members put it at a recent workshop I spoke at, “It feels like just when I start getting some momentum on a key initiative he [the owner] changes things on me. I find this very frustrating and unproductive.”
How about you? Are you someone who chases after bright, shiny objects? Or do you doggedly stay focused on one strategy and pursue it with single-minded determination?
The reality is that you need both flexibility and the focus to stay centered on a strategy long enough for it to yield dividends.
I call this the balance of flexibility and momentum. Markets changes, opportunities appear, and the facts on the ground must be accounted for, while at the same time if you don’t give your company time to work on a plan of action, you won’t make meaningful progress.
This is where the quarter comes in – it’s the perfect time period to bridge your bigger company goals and strategies with the daily doing and weekly organizing that needs to happen to make actual progress.
I want to share with you our proprietary format for a one-page, 90-day plan of action. Then each quarter you’ll update your one-page plan of action for the coming 90 days. Think of it as a rolling series of 90-day sprints.
Here’s what the plan of action looks like:
Let’s work to create your company’s plan of action.
Step One: Pick Your Top Three “Focus Areas” for the Quarter
Start your plan by choosing a maximum of three “focus areas” for the coming quarter. Your focus areas are the most important areas for your business to invest its best energies.
Of course, you’ll still have to take care of the day-to-day operational needs of your business, but your focus areas are where you’ve identified as important to invest your best resources of time, talent, attention, and money on in the coming quarter.
Possible focus areas include making a key hire, implementing a lead conversion strategy, securing an additional round of financing, or building a key operational system.
Make sure to have no more than three focus areas max. Why? Because too many top priorities means you have no top priorities. Ninety days comes fast, and if you spread your company too thin, you’ll find that you partially do more things instead of fully doing a few key chunks that actually produce value for your company. This dissipates key resources and frustrates your team.
Step Two: Clarify the “Criteria for Success” for Each of Your Three Focus Areas
Now that you’ve picked your three focus areas for the quarter, it is time to clarify your criteria of success for each. What would you need to accomplish this quarter in order to feel successful in this focus area? Be ruthlessly realistic about what is possible for you to accomplish in ninety days.
It’s tempting to jump straight to your action steps and milestones but resist this urge. If having written and reviewed several thousand action plans over my past twenty years as a business coach has taught me anything, it’s this: establish your criteria of success for each focus area first, then your action steps and milestones will be much more directed and meaningful.
Step Three: Lay Out Your Key Action Steps and Milestones for This Quarter
What are the key action steps to help you meet your criteria of success in each focus area? What are the milestone landmarks you will aim for? Because we want to keep your action plan simple and actionable, break each focus area down into five to seven action steps and milestones. Assign a team member to “own” each specific action step, and by when.
With your action plan in hand, review it each week to pull key deliverables out to work on in the coming week. This is how you root your 90-day plan of action into the weekly scheduling and daily doing you need to translate it into concrete results.
Now it’s your turn to create your company’s one-page rolling 90-day plan of action. Get to work.