One of the biggest differentiators between companies that stay small and companies that get BIG is having an effective Annual Planning Process. In this three-part series, we’ll explain how to prepare for, execute, and follow through on the meeting that sets the agenda for your company’s whole year. CLICK HERE for Part I: Pre-Work.
Now that you, your leadership team, and your professional outside facilitator have completed all the necessary prework, it’s time to talk about how an effective one- or two-day annual planning meeting actually works.
But before I do that, I want to make two things clear about your annual planning meeting.
First, this is THE most important business meeting on your calendar for the year. Done well, it will set the stage for explosive growth and BIG accomplishments.
Second, there’s a considerable amount of nuance and customization to these meetings. Yes, we have a best practices format that we use, and we’re sharing the broad strokes of that format in this series of three posts. But the real secret sauce can’t be boiled down to a list of 10 steps that you rigidly follow. A skilled facilitator will know, over the course of the meeting, when to prod, poke, drill down, zoom out, press, or pivot in order to meet the exact needs of that leadership team at that moment. And a professional facilitator will ask the right questions ahead of time to customize the content of the meeting in a way that delivers maximum actionable value.
With that said, here are some key best practices to help you get BIG results from your annual planning meeting.
1. Align expectations. You’ve all done the prework and have come into the meeting with your own ideas and expectations. Now, a skilled facilitator will ask each attendee to share their expectations and then he’ll distill them to a set that everyone is aligned with. By the end of this brief discussion, it should be clear to everybody “what success looks like” for this meeting.
2. Review prework. As you review the prework, what pops out? What patterns are apparent? What is becoming clear?
3. Review last year’s results. Even though it’s in the rearview mirror, take a moment to review how you did compared to what you said you would do. On a scale of 1 to 10, how well did you execute on last year’s plan? What could you do to improve your execution this year? Were any of your answers to the prework informed by your results from the past year? Are there any problems or issues from the past year that will need to be resolved this year?
4. Determine high-level outcomes. Now it’s time to start nailing down the specific and measurable outcomes you want to achieve. As facilitators, we typically start by looking out three years because it’s far enough out to achieve a Huge Outrageous Target (HOT), but not so far that it’s easy to forget about. From there, we’ll zoom in and look at the next 12 months and determine the specific objectives we want to achieve that will keep us on pace to hit our longer-term HOTs.
5. Determine specific initiatives. It’s one thing to set a goal, or a HOT. That’s the easy part. The hard part is to determine the specific and measurable initiatives that will lead to achieving those HOTs. A skilled facilitator will walk you through a process that could include divergent thinking, convergent thinking, prioritizing, voting, and challenging so you arrive at a manageable number of initiatives that have a high probability of leading to achieving your HOTs.
6. Drill down and assign ownership. With the annual initiatives in place, now you have to break them down and identify the specific, shorter-term milestones along the way to measure your progress. We’ll answer such questions as:
- What will it take to guarantee it happens?
- What will stand in the way of making it happen?
- How will we overcome what stands in the way?
- Who owns it?
- When will it be done?
- How will we keep score?
7. Commit to Make BIG Happen. We’ll end the meeting with a strong, united commitment on the plan and a clear understanding of “who will do what by when.”
Okay, now we have a great plan in place. But how will you follow through to guarantee the plan gets executed over the next 12 months? That’s what we’ll talk about in Part III of this series on the Annual Planning Process.
About Mark Moses
Mark Moses is the Founding Partner of CEO Coaching International and the Amazon Bestselling author of Make Big Happen. His firm coaches over 200 of the world’s top high-growth entrepreneurs and CEO’s on how to dramatically grow their revenues and profits, implement the most effective strategies, become better leaders, grow their people, build accountability systems, and elevate their own performance. Mark has won Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award and the Blue Chip Enterprise award for overcoming adversity. His last company ranked #1 Fastest-Growing Company in Los Angeles as well as #10 on the Inc. 500 of fastest growing private companies in the U.S. He has completed 12 full distance Ironman Triathlons including the Hawaii Ironman World Championship 5 times.
About CEO Coaching International
CEO Coaching International works with the world’s top entrepreneurs, CEOs, and companies to dramatically grow their business, develop their people, and elevate their overall performance. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 350 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 25 countries. Every coach at CEO Coaching International is a former CEO or President that has made big happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from startups to over $1 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight and nine figure exits. CEOs and entrepreneurs working with CEO Coaching International for three years or more have experienced an average EBITDA CAGR of 66.4% during their time as a client, more than five times the national average. For more information, please visit: https://www.ceocoachinginternational.com