Despite the fear of wasting time writing a plan in a rapidly changing world, you still choose to write a plan with some goals and strategies. You realize like Yogi Berra, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” At the same time, you know a plan without action will only leave you with words on paper, a lack of results and a reinforced belief system (BS) that plans are useless. If there’s anything that will prevent you from planning again, that will do it. So what’s the secret to the execution of your plan? It’s adopting the 4 Cs of planning.
Commitment is the cornerstone of planning. Without it, you will end up doing what you’ve always done, hoping for different results. What do you call that? Oh yea, insanity. The good news is commitment doesn’t require you to feel like executing. It eliminates lack of motivation as an excuse because you’ll do what you’re committed to doing, period. Quitting and abandoning your plan is not an option. When you commit to something, it eliminates alternative choices. Remind yourself why the goals are important to you, then decide to follow through until you cross the finish line.
Cadence is the process of accountability required to execute a plan and the reason why plans must be documented to include a dashboard showing progress towards company goals. The key to cadence is determining how frequently the plan needs to be reviewed and with whom. Ideally, you and your team have individualized the business plan by translating it into a focused 90-day action plan. If so, you’ll want to at least look at your plan monthly, measuring progress, adjusting for unknowns, and recommitting to follow-through. If you lead others, lead by example. Be accountable to them by fully participating in sharing your own action plan and progress. If you’re a solopreneur, find someone to be accountable to, a colleague can be great, but a professional coach can make it so much easier, fun and fulfilling. Tactics or action items should be reviewed weekly. Dashboard metrics and plan adjustments should be reviewed monthly. Finally, the business plan and individual projects and plans should be reviewed and revised every 90 days.
Correction is the antidote to plan obsolescence, the biggest excuse for not planning. Circumstances are fluid so change is a given. Adapting to new circumstances and what’s not working in your plan is an essential process. Correction happens as part of your weekly, monthly and quarterly cadence. In your more frequent checkpoint, weekly and monthly, it usually comes down to adjusting tactics, specific activities and time management for getting things done. It might mean setting up new or adjusting existing time blocks, routines and process improvements. Corrections made during the less frequent monthly and quarterly periods allow you to step back, get above the tyranny of the urgent and look at the next period to clear the path for better execution. You learn from the prior period, see where things have changed and anticipate changes to come, adjusting strategy and course-correcting as needed to hit the goals.
Celebration is sadly a commonly missed step. Business leaders tend to be high achievers, never satisfied with hitting a goal. As soon as they do, it’s off to the next goal and so the cycle repeats itself with little time for celebrating successes. After a while, if they don’t burn out, those following their lead likely will. Imagine an NFL football game without any celebration. How boring and exhausting! Coaches find opportunities to celebrate successes because the emotion that comes from it anchors positive behaviors while filling the tank of enthusiasm for perseverance. We’re wired to behave in ways that reward us, and celebration provides that opportunity. Find people executing, learning from their mistakes, and pressing onward. Acknowledge them privately and where possible, publicly. Team celebrations are also amazing like one of my clients taking his team on an outing. If you’re the leader, come up with a way to celebrate your own success. Keep in mind, it’s easier to celebrate others’ success than your own but both are equally important. Do or buy something for yourself you’d otherwise not likely do or buy.
If you’ve written a simple one-page plan and you and your team have turned it into personal action plans, let the 4 Cs reward you and your team with exceptional results. Success breeds more success as the annualized planning process becomes a system for constant and never-ending improvement in your business. That is how you graduate to elite status.
Plans are also more likely to succeed if aligned with your thinking, talent, and culture. We’ve developed a powerful and complimentary “Confident Leader Insight Assessment” to help you do this. Click HERE to take this brief but powerful assessment. Even though we know you’re name and email, the system asks for it anyway but that information will not be shared. The report is immediate and if you have any questions about it, I will personally reply to your email at firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule a complimentary laser session to go over the key results and how to align your planning process. Just use this link: Confident Leader Strategy Session