The secret to successfully executing is having a plan and having a plan to execute…having an internal calendar of important annual, quarterly, monthly, and weekly meetings or events.
My university roommate started rowing in her first year. She immediately set the goal of making the National team. This seemed like such a crazy objective to me. Who starts a sport and then thinks she can make it to the top within 3 or 4 years? Well, she did make it… and her team made it to the Olympics. Her vision for excellence, focus, and commitment has stuck with me ever since. She once said to me, ‘I see the Olympics as the top of the mountain that I’m trying to climb. Every day I get up know that what I say yes or no to will either bring me closer to that mountain top or take me away from it. So I make a plan to succeed and I stick to that plan as best as I can’.
Commonly in organizations, I hear ‘We don’t have a plan because it ends up going in a drawer to die.’ So the end result of having no plan is simply reacting to the work on hand, year after year.
One of the biggest challenges I see in strategic planning isn’t the inability to create a plan – it’s the inability to execute the plan. Once the plan is created, the day-to-day work becomes the priority. The thought of pausing to review, reflect and reset just seems like a luxury that many businesses simply can’t afford.
In sports, they apply a principle called periodization. It’s the idea that we break down training into phases depending on the time of the year and the seasons, all in preparation for a competition phase. Each phase – whether it be a macrocycle or a microcycle – is carefully planned out and carefully executed. Athletes not only have a plan to train, but they have a plan to execute.
Does your company have a plan to execute? Do you know what meetings you need to be having and when? Are they scheduled a year in advance?
The best way to execute your strategic plan is to consider the key cycles of your business like an athlete would. And then time-block your key meetings, reviews, and collaboration sessions according to achieving your plan and your business cycles. Simply put: make sure that all of your key dates are documented on an internal calendar so everyone knows what is expected of them and by when.
Here is an example of a little template to get you started! Feel free to click File > Make a Copy to then customize for your team, and add your own unique meeting dates! Remember the objective is to help you EXECUTE your plans. Good luck!