Are you as a business trying to be everything to everyone? You may hear “We go for everything as an organisation as we increase our probability of success. We look to grow our revenue, our contacts and our market presence by hard work, by sheer luck and good fortune but no long term plan”. These are common sentiments of organisations that are very reactive, and struggle to build a proactive organisation based on a clear strategy, clear markets and discipline to say no. In the short term it may work to react to everything but in the middle to longer term cracks will appear and impact employee engagement, delivery on projects and client satisfaction. This is why a 90 day plan is critical for your firm to stay focused.
The shift towards focus in an organisation must start with the leadership team. There are several questions that the team can ask to identify their focuses and their target, such as:
- What are the key issues?
- What is the organisations purpose?
- What should our immediate focus be moving forward?
- How do we ensure key messages and themes are consistently applied across the organisation?
- How does this link to our long term vision and plans?
- What do we need to focus on now?
- Who is responsible for delivering on these key actions?
Focussing on a long term strategic plan is beneficial, however for some the big picture can seem out of reach or overwhelming – like an elephant. The best way to eat an elephant is to eat one bite at a time. This analogy is very relevant for focussing leadership teams. Patrick Lencioni’s book ‘The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business ‘suggests you break the elephant down to 90 day planning cycles. It is an exceptional approach as key focus areas are established, and the theme for the next 90 days is agreed upon uniting the leadership team to deliver around these areas. 90 day plans also become the leadership teams key communication themes and drive accountability when reviewing progress for the quarter. Getting this process up and running as a quarterly initiative allows the entire team to come together to reflect on performance, celebrate wins and share lessons learnt. Then the next 90 days start with a new theme and key focus areas.
The results are significant in increasing the probability of successfully executing on your key priorities. Everyone understands what’s important and why!
The hardest part to this approach is the discipline to say no when other items pop up. The new market, unexpected crises and the increasing rate of change are all potential distractions. Leaders must remember that success in delivering against strategy is not always about what you do, it is more often about what you choose not to do. Have the discipline to stay focused and you will reap the rewards. Your staff will thank you for removing distractions and silencing white noise, because let’s face it, the ripple effect we inadvertently create when we lose focus as leaders adds little value.