The cardinal rhythm for a high growth scale up is the quarterly rhythm. The 90-day cycle is the optimal planning horizon for a few reasons:
- Planning can be reasonably accurate even in a fast changing environment (unlike annual plans);
- Execution timeframe is long enough to get big things done (unlike a monthly timeframe);
- The next review and planning session is not so far away that the plan drifts miles from reality when things change (unlike an annual timeframe); so that people can just get on with executing between the 90-day RAPs.
Think of your quarterly cycle as a series of 4×90 day races, punctuated with review and planning sessions (RAPs).
But taking an entire day out for the entire senior team is expensive! Because the opportunity cost is so high, you’ve got to make sure you get maximum from the meeting. Below is a starting point for an agenda.
You’ll notice a few things about the meat of the agenda:
- Build accountability. Give every leader the chance to present performance against committed goals / targets, and reasons for deviations; then give them a chance to make commitments for the next 90-day race.
- Begin by looking backwards (‘how have things gone, against plan?’), learn (‘how must we adapt?’), then update your goals for the next 90 days.
- Separate planning operational goals (e.g. sales targets) from ‘business building’ priorities (e.g. go live with CRM).
- Make time for major tactical issues; if you don’t, these will derail the meeting. How much time depends on how many major issues and decisions there are.
- Record actions and commitments.
Quarterly RAP agenda guidelines:
- Connection (45min)
- Highlight – Best thing that happened last quarter
- Lowlight – #1 ‘Bug’ in the organisation that needs fixing
- Expectations for the meeting
- Review (60-180min)
Each leader shares, in 2 mins each:
- Performance against quarterly goals and P&L Performance
(business of today)
- Performance against Strategic Initiatives
(business of tomorrow)
- Performance against Scale Up Goals
- FORECASTS: Implications for Year End performance
- Major insights from the quarter (what’s working, what’s not, what needs adjusting)
- Strategy refresh (30-120min)
Reflect on the strategy for the year. Based on what we’ve learnt, what needs to be evolved? Are changes required MAJOR (the strategy is wrong; we need to go back to the drawing board) or minor (business model / target tweaks)?
- Performance Priorities (30-90min)
- Workshop the Enterprise Level Performance priorities for the next quarter. Prioritise down to 3 – 5 at most
- Individual leaders to refine and then present their divisional goals & targets for the next quarter, to make their biggest contribution towards the business delivering its priorities
- Scale Up Priorities (30-90min)
(building the business of tomorrow)
- Workshop the Enterprise Level Scale Up priorities for the next quarter. Prioritise down to 1-2 at most
- Individual leaders to refine and their divisional Scale Up Priorities, Initiatives and Goals for the next quarter, to make their biggest contribution towards the business delivering its Scale Up priorities
- Each leader presents scale up goals in 2mins each; with 8 mins of Q&A / debate per person
- Key Issues (60-90min)
- Prioritise the top issues to be resolved here; allocate a facilitator for each; decide whether to break up into subgroups or discuss as 1 group
- Resolve issues; conclude with accountability and actions
- Next Steps (60min)
- Finalise the action plan. Circulate.
- Conclude (30-45min)
Each person shares:
- Highlights from the meeting;
- Rating (1-5) – how effective was this meeting;
- Solutions – things to do better next time;
- #1 insight from this breakaway