Last week I invited a select group of business owners to my home for a time of teaching, planning, and goal setting for 2013. This week I am taking some time to walk through this process with my own business; something I do three times each year (every 4 months).
Verne Harnish, in his book, Mastering the Rockerfeller Habits, writes about rhythm – one of the three success factors of business alongside priorities and data (access to key metrics he refers to as smart numbers and critical numbers). The rhythm he speaks about is found in a series of meetings that happen daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly.
I recently heard a very successful business man (Steve Dulen) speak on taking sabbaticals. He said, “I live from one sabbatical to another.” His point wasn’t that he is just wasting his time waiting for the next one, but that his planning process if built around achieving goals that focus on the next 4 months, and then he’s off measuring and course correcting for the next 4 months. I’ve done this now for two years and it has proven to be extremely beneficial.
In Harnish’s book, he recommends following GE’s example of setting a far reaching goal, for instance 25 years out. This is where you are headed long term (or what I refer to as your long term vision). Once your vision is in place, you should then turn your attention to 90 days (1 Quarter). Harnish argues that, after 90 days, nothing really matters. Focus on the short term, execute well, and then regroup for the next quarter. At each point, make sure you know where you are, and where you need to go.
How My Version of Rhythm Works
I have chosen to do this every 4 months, rather than 3, but the key here is rhythm. By getting into a rhythm of every 4 months, I don’t have to think about when to do this. The time is set, as is the process. This week I will work through a process I’ve developed that includes reading, listening, reflecting, and brainstorming. As I go along I am writing down goals and refining where I am headed over the next 4 months. I’ll consider things that are working, and things that are not. I’ll look at market conditions, the best use of my time, partners and employees, and key clients. I also look at my person life, spiritual life, and every factor that affects the important areas of my life. By establish in routine to work through as I go through the day, I end up using my time efficiently. I may refine the process, but essentially its the same thing each time. This cycle repeats as I work through questions I have, past goals I have set, and needs I have identified. At the end of my planning period I will have refined my vision, set my goals, understood my metrics, and identified those things that need to change. I will also be refreshed and ready to take on the next 4 months.
What Does Your Process Look Like?
If you don’t have a process to plan your year, you need one. Companies that plan well tend to outperform those that don’t. My process will take me through to Friday – and after spending three solid days on planning and strategy, I should have a pretty clear picture of where to spend my next four months. (Note: I do this out of the office to reduce disruptions – this also becomes a great time of rejuvenation).
© 2013, David Stelzl